Of course, these days even some of the most civilised countries in the world are plagued by the occasional outbreak of tennis. Many countries do, of course, maintain strict border controls on the importation of racquets, nets and – of course – balls. Still, even in this modern, technological age, they are not immune from any sudden outbreak of tennis.
Back in the early years of the Twentieth Century, several outbreaks of tennis struck the UK. Unfortunately, here was little the authorities of the time could do to halt its spread. The only option that remained was to set up a specialised quarantine area within the London region. They wanted a place where those who they suspected of infection by with the disease, or were possible carriers of the disease, could be isolated for up to a fortnight or so. The authorities of the time were especially concerned that those with the highly infectious tennis balls were isolated too. Until the disease itself passed out of its dangerous phase, those infected with tennis could not be allowed to mingle with normal people.
Thus was – what we now know as – Wimbledon fortnight created. A time when the populace of London flees the city, much as they did in centuries long gone whenever there was an outbreak of plague.
Of course, over the centuries there have been many cures for tennis proclaimed. However, it was not until the Twentieth Century that scientists fully understood the nature of various diseases, especially those contagious ones known as sports.
Nowadays, most throughout the medical world accept that tennis passes from sufferer to sufferer through repeated contact with the infected balls. Still, however, some believe that even passing too close to a tennis court is enough to catch tennis. More surprising there are still some who – naively – believe that it is safe to practice tennis as long as everyone involves uses a net.
However, the World Health Organisation believes that it will not be long before a vaccine is developed. Such a vaccine would help rid this world of the scourge of tennis, and other similar racquet-based infections such as squash and badminton well before the end of this century. So in the future those with no natural immunity to the disease will not have to quarantine themselves away for the whole of Wimbledon fortnight. All hoping for the rain that is the only known cure for this calamitous and disfiguring disease. A disease that often leaves its sufferers – those that survive – forced to wear shorts for the rest of their all too brief and unhappy lives.