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The English “taste” of the Bordighera Lawn Tennis Club

It is now history. Not everybody knows that the one in the centre of Bordighera was the first Italian Tennis Club, bound to colonialism and England.

It was 1878 when tennis matches began being played on the first lawns located in an area near the public gardens and the Anglican Church in Bordighera: a location discovered by the Englishman Wingfield who imported this sport to a place with the mildest climate of the Mediterranean thus beginning the history of the “Bordighera Lawn Tennis Club”. Behind the English Church there is a place where athletes (and non athletes) meet in  friendly rivalry with the English Comittee chaired by the Bishop of London and Gibraltar.

The matches were played in the spring  at the time when the English colony was ending its seasonal stay in the mild winter of Bordighera. This was when the Club of Bordighera was at its peak and  the most famous of the Riviera.

Backed by the noble applause of the King of Sweden and the Princesses of Savoia, Mafalda and Giovanna, great players confronted each other on the sixteen “red” courts of the “city of palms”: internationally famous players  such as the great Tilden, Lacoste, Cochet, Hopman, as well as our De Morpurgo, De Stefani e Vido. This tradition still continues.

Staying on the topic of tennis and England, the influence of the British bourgeois on holiday in the city of palms launched the first Italian factory of tennis rackets, the S.I.R.T.

Captain C. W. Murray, tired of having to organize and order his “tools of the trade” by mail from London, one day thought of having everything for tennis  made locally so he turned to the famous firm in Bordighera, Nada & Billour which, besides furniture, began making tennis rackets, at least in part.

In just a few years, the rackets “made in Bordighera”, sporting also the English logo, won over all the tennis fans because of their excellent features.

The S.I.R.T. (Società Italiana Racchette Tennis) had acquired the necessary know-how in wood carving.

[Donatella Lauria]

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