International Tennis Federation Celebrates 100 Years

itf book

(March 1, 2013) The International Tennis Federation (ITF), founded on 1 March 1913, today celebrates its centenary as the international governing body of tennis with the publication of its new book The International Tennis Federation: A Century of Contribution to Tennis. The book, published by Rizzoli New York, will be released on the inaugural World Tennis Day on Monday 4 March, when the ITF’s National Associations join some of the leading tennis stars in promoting tennis participation around the world.


The book will be available for purchase on the online ITF Store: https://store.itftennis.com


A Century of Contribution to Tennis, written by Chris Bowers, charts the ITF’s important role over the last 100 years in developing tennis against a backdrop of political turmoil, the changing geography of the globe, and the impact that this shifting landscape has had on international sport.


The book examines the formation of the International Lawn Tennis Federation (ILTF) in 1913, when a group of 12 tennis administrators gathered in Paris to found an umbrella organisation to allow their sport to grow with uniform rules, standards and expectations. The game of lawn tennis was only four decades old at the time, but the four Grand Slam tournaments and Davis Cup competition were already in existence. With national governing bodies for lawn tennis already established in several countries, the time was right for an international federation to oversee the sport’s development, and 15 founding member nations formed the ILTF on 1 March. The word ‘Lawn’ was dropped from the name in 1977. The ITF is now one of the largest international federations with 210 member nations.


The ITF’s first century has been a period of enormous growth, particularly since the introduction of ‘open’ tennis in 1968 which changed the face of the modern game. The book looks at how the transition from amateur status to professionalism challenged the fundamental character of tennis, and the role of the ITF and its National Associations.


The publication looks at the success of Davis Cup and Fed Cup competitions, whose growth has mirrored that of the ITF. The 100th Davis Cup Final in 2012 marked the start of ITF Centenary celebrations, while Fed Cup celebrates its 50th birthday in 2013 having been founded on the 50th anniversary of the ITF. It also reveals the challenges navigated by the ITF along the way to tennis’s re-inclusion into the Olympics Games in 1988, and the impact this had on the growth of the sport in many regions.

The book also looks at the lesser known but equally important activities of the ITF, highlighting the pyramid structure in which much of the important work is done at grassroots level through its Development department. The ITF has created opportunities for players of all ages, including junior, professional and seniors circuits, and has overseen the dynamic rise of Tennis10s, wheelchair tennis and the relatively new discipline of beach tennis.

The publication also demonstrates how, through its cutting edge laboratory, the ITF balances technological developments in the sport while remaining true to the spirit of the game. It also looks at its role in officiating, including the establishment of the unified ITF Rules of Tennis, and the development of anti-doping and anti-corruption programmes.

Francesco Ricci Bitti, President of the International Tennis Federation, said: “On our 100thbirthday, I hope the full range of the ITF’s involvement in tennis will be recognised. Much as we highlight the successes of our top players, we are equally proud of our role in encouraging players at all levels to participate in the sport. A Century of Contribution to Tennis reveals just some of the work of our 210 member nations, six regional associations and the thousands of volunteers who have worked tirelessly on behalf of the ITF to make tennis the global success it is today.”

About the ITF

The ITF is the world governing body of tennis and beach tennis, responsible for the rules of both sports and maintaining the integrity of tennis. In addition to its administrative role, the ITF is the owner and international rightsholder of the two largest annual international team competitions in sport, Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas. The ITF also manages the Olympic Tennis Event on behalf of the IOC. Through its Science and Technical Department, the ITF closely monitors both equipment and technology, while its Officiating Department oversees the education and advancement of officials worldwide. The ITF organises over 1,000 weeks of men’s and women’s professional tournaments on the ITF Pro Circuit and coordinates the rapidly growing ITF Beach Tennis Tour. Through its Tennis Development Department that oversees the development of tennis worldwide, the ITF manages the ITF Junior Circuit and team competitions for elite juniors as well as international tennis events and programmes for wheelchair and senior players. The ITF also manages the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme on behalf of the sport and is a partner in the Tennis Integrity Unit.


About World Tennis Day

The ITF is launching World Tennis Day on Monday 4 March in a bid to promote tennis and increase participation among young players around the globe. World Tennis Day will be centred around two high-profile events – the well-established BNP Paribas Showdown in New York’s Madison Square Garden and a new event of the same name to be played at the AsiaWorld-Arena in Hong Kong. Both of these special events, organised by the promoter StarGames, will feature current and former professionals together with demonstrations of the ITF’s Tennis10s programme aimed at increasing participation among young players around the world. Alongside these events, the ITF will be encouraging its 210 National Associations to support World Tennis Day with their own grassroots and club activities to attract new participants to the sport.