Is this from some literary source?
Tradition holds that Humphrey Bogart had the line in a play early in his career, but I don’t recall if it is true or not. It has been awhile since I read the latest biography on him, and the book is packed away for an upcoming move.
I thought it was ‘anyone for tennis?’
Sounds like it might be P G Wodehouse or Agatha Christie or something.
Could have originated there, but it’s most associated with a(n unconfirmed) story about Bogey.
I found this photo, though. And the thought of a young Bogey saunteringly skipping around, elbow raised, racquet bobbing around, with a mirthful “Tennis, anyone?” is kinda intriguing.
A lot of guesswork going on here. This is the closest I could find to a definitive source, from Brewer’s Dicitonary of Modern Phrase & Fable (a very useful book!):
I think we can rule out Bogey, since he was ony 11 in 1910.
Humphey Bogart got his start on the stage in the 1920s, playing “well dressed young men entering a room carrying a tennis racket” and similar characters in drawing room comedies. I’ll see if I can find the reference to his first role. His career was in the doldrums until he aged and started playing heavier characters.
In the Dictionary of Misinformation, Tom Burnam says that Bogart always denied he uttered the line.
Some years ago a local station in St. Louis broadcast a series of Humphrey Bogart films in the early a.m., titling the package “Bogie all night”. At station breaks a snippet of an interview with Humphrey Bogart was played. In it he said (I don’t claim to have the exact phrasing): "(t)here are two things I never said: ‘tennis, anyone?’ and ‘all right Louie, drop the gun’.
Bartlett’s Familiar Quotationsused to credit the phrase to Bogart, with the notation that it was his only line in his first stage role.
No one has yet addressed the point of the line. Having a person run in and say something of this kind was a cliche device for clearing the stage so that the leading man and the ingenue could be left alone to sing a love song or whatever.
If you are asking where the exact phrase “tennis, anyone?” first appears, Barry Popik has posted over at the ADS list a cite from 1951. That’s the earliest so far.
The posters who have offered the cites from early comedies are no doubt correct about the phrase having its roots in earlier play devices.