Who invented badminton?

The sport of badminton takes its name from Badminton House, the family seat of the Duke of Beaufort, in Gloucestershire, South West England. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, badminton was first played in that locale circa 1873, but its origin can be traced back to antiquity.

Traditional folk games involving hitting a shuttlecock back and forth have been popular in Asia, Europe and the Americas for centuries, if not millenia. In England, for example, the game of battledore and shuttlecock, a.k.a. jeu de volant, is depicted in a Medieval engraving held by the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Initially a children’s pastime, the game involved taking turns to hit a rudimentary feather-trimmed shuttlecock with small rackets, known as battledores, without allowing it to fall to the ground.

The evolution of modern badminton took another step forward in the second half of the nineteenth century, when army officers stationed in the city of Poona, now Pune, in Western India during the days of the British Raj improved battledore and shuttlecock by introducing a net and a court and drew up the rules for a new game known, unsurprising, as ‘poona’. Returning officers subsequently re-imported the revised, competitive game to England, where it gained trained traction in various locations including, of course, Badminton House.

The original rules and regulations of badminton, as the game became known, were revised in 1887 and again in 1890 before being published by the newly-formed Badminton Association of England, now Badminton England, in 1893. Nowadays, badminton is the second most popular participation sport globally, behind only association football, or soccer, with an estimated 220 million players worldwide.

Which tennis player(s) denied Tim Henman a place in the Wimbledon final?

One of the most successful British tennis players of the Open Era, Tim Henman had the distinction of being the first British man since Roger Taylor, in 1973, to reach the singles semi-finals at Wimbledon. Indeed, he did so in 1998, 1999, 2001 and 2002, but never reached the final.

In 1998, Henman, seeded 12, beat subsequently disgraced Czech Petr Korda, seeded 3, in straight sets in his quarter-final to set up a semi-final clash with reigning champion Pete Sampras. In what he later described as the ‘most intense match of my life at that stage’, Henman lost in four sets and did so again, to the same opponent, at the same stage, in 1999, emphasising his ‘nearly-man’ status.

In 2001, Henman faced unseeded Croatian Goran Ivanisevic in a semi-final that was played over the course of three days due to rain delays. He lost the first set 7-5, but battled back to win the second 7-6 and the third 6-0, having lost just four points. He led 2-1 in the fourth set when rain arrived, but when play resumed the following day, Ivanisevic fought his way back from the brink of defeat to level the match in a tie-breaker. After just five games of the deciding set, with Ivanisevic leading 3-2, play was suspended again and did not resume until the following afternoon. When it did, the Croatian converted his third break point to lead 5-3 and served out the match to win 7-5, 6-7, 0-6, 7-6, 6-3.

After his third semi-final defeat, Henman said, ‘Unfortunately, my best was not good enough this year but I certainly know I’ll be back for many more tries.’ However, he reached the Wimbledon semi-finals just once more, in 2002, when a straight sets defeat by Lleyton Hewitt extinguished his chances of reaching the final in SW19 for a fourth and final time.