Why is a tennis bracelet called a tennis bracelet?

So I’m shopping for Mrs. Bricker’s Christmas present, and as I peruse the jewelry counter looking at tennis bracelets it occurred to me that I had no clue why in the world a diamond bracelet would be called a “tennis” bracelet.

So – why?

The in-line thin diamond bracelet that features a symmetrical pattern of diamonds is called a tennis bracelet. According to Diamond Bug, in 1987 Chris Evert, the former World No. 1 woman tennis player and the winner of 18 Grand Slam singles titles, was playing in the U.S. Open. She was wearing an elegant, light in-line diamond bracelet, made by jeweler-to-the-stars George Bedewi which accidentally broke and the match was interrupted to allow Chris to recover her precious diamonds. The “tennis bracelet” incident sparked a new name for the item and sparked a huge jewelry trend. Tennis bracelets continued to be worn by various tennis stars like Serena Williams and Gabriela Sabatini.

From Wikipedia. Digest as necessary.

Also at http://www.diamondring.com/journal/1090-tennis-bracelet/

Lots of sites on line give the derivation that Philster gives. It surprises me that the name is so recent.

I am certain I’ve heard the term way before 1987.

Completely unhelpful WAG: When I was a kid, I always assumed it was called such because if you were the kind of rich asshole who spent all day playing tennis, you could probably afford one of these.

That is completely unhelpful.

Me too. Did the bracelet have a particular name before that incident?

I think it was probably just called a bracelet.

That style bracelet (now known as a tennis bracelet) was previously referred to as an eternity bracelet.

They became popular when a lot of women started wearing Rolexes–you wear the tennis bracelet on the same wrist as your watch so it looks a little girlier. I’ve worn one with my watch since the eighties. I think they just used to be called diamond bracelets.

Here is a cite from 1986.

Better cite.

Great. Now we have a new question.

That could still be influenced by the 1987 Evert incident, as it implies she calls it a tennis bracelet “these days”, indicating a recent adoption of the term.

I’d always heard that is was because it was small enough that it was allowable to be worn while playing tennis (like pitchers in baseball can’t wear flashy chains and whatnot due to the distraction)

Don’t know if there is an actual USTA (or other body) rule regarding jewelry, but there you go.

I can find cites in newspapers from 1975 advertising “eternity bracelets” which were essentially the later diamond tennis bracelet. The idea was, you bought your wife one after you were married, to show your love would last for an eternity(or for the length of the marriage–whichever came first).

At least now I know it’s not because it was thought that these thin bracelets resembled the seam that encircles the tennis ball in an undulating pattern.

Ignorance fought, well done!

That doesn’t really explain the cited use of the term in 1986, though, if the term was invented in 1987 as has been claimed. The “Chris Evert’s bracelet broke at the US Open in 1987” story, while it appears all over the Internet, always traces back to the same source - Diamond Blog - which makes it highly suspicious. There would be other primary sources if a story like that, involving a high profile athlete, were true. that doesn’t mean Evert didn’t have her bracelet break during the '87 Open, but clearly that incident did not result in the invention of the term.

The more prosaic, and likelier, explanation is simply that it became fashionable for tennis players to wear diamond bracelets in the 1980s, and so the name started being used.

It certainly does seem to be a 1980s term, though. That surprises me, but then, a lot of terms become so common that you assume they’ve been around forever. If you ask a hundred people when “Murphy’s Law” entered the language they’d probably all say it predates their birth by generations, but there is no evidence of the term existing prior to 1952 and most people wouldn’t have heard of it until the 1970s. (The general concept’s old, but that name for it is not.)

It’s been take back to 1949 recently. Just saying.

Chris Everet was playing tennis with the bracelet earlier than 1987. Such an incident (1987 match) of having it break and pausing a game and tv coverage to find the diamonds can easily explain the sudden spread of the term.

It may have been used… it might have gotten a blurb, but the very person who was known for wearing such a bracelet is suddenly on TV looking for its diamonds. I doubt the bracelet had anything even close to that sort of coverage prior to that.

1987: the bracelet’s name was forever linked to tennis, thanks to Chris Everet, who had been wearing one up to that point, but suddenly drew national attention to it.