Basque pelota and tennis are believed to have a common ancestor, jeu de paume. In the early 1700s, this game began to evolve into a version played with a racquet. In England, the racquet game turned into tennis, in Basque Country, jeu de paume instead evolved into Basque pelota. Basque pelota was a game played on sundays and other church days in Basque Country. It was played against the wall of the local church, with the open-air church courtyard as the playing field. It wasn’t until the late 1800’s that Basque pelota moved to indoor facilities. The mid-19th century saw the explosion of the "pelota craze". The player "Gantxiki" is considered the original "father" of the chistera, the basket-shaped racquet, which made basque pelota the fastest sport.
Pelota is usually played in the Basque regions of south-western France and north-eastern Spain, and from there spread throughout the Spanish colonies. Basque pelota was an official Olympic sport once, in the 1900 Paris Games, and demonstration sport in 1924, 1968 and 1992. The first official competitions were organized in the 1920s and the International Federation of Basque Pelota was formed in 1929, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The founding organizations were the Argentinian, the Spanish and the French Federation of Pelota. The International Federation of Basque Pelota has organized the Basque Pelota World Championships since 1952.