History comes alive at The International Tennis Hall of Fame, where legends have played on historic grass courts and nearly 2,000 objects remain on display from a robust collection of more than 25,000 tennis artifacts. This is the place where you can experience interactive exhibits, test your knowledge of the sport on a five-foot touch table, and get up close to tennis legend Roger Federer's hologram.
You don't have to be a tennis lover to be blown away.
While the museum remains closed for the season, ITHF offers nine digital exhibits to learn more about the sport that has shaped so many facets of history.
BREAKING THE BARRIERS
Tennis has become the world's second most popular sport largely because of the geographic, cultural, stylistic and racial diversity of its professionals. Most people are familiar with the tennis and life success of Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe. However, because of racial discrimination in tennis and America, few people know the incredible story of the talented players who were not allowed to compete in major tennis tournaments because of their race.
THE ORIGINAL 9 AND THEIR FIGHT FOR GENDER EQUALITY IN TENNIS
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Original 9—the women who decided to take a stand against inequality in tennis. In 1970, when the disparity of prize money at men’s and women’s tournaments reached a critical point, some women players approached Gladys Heldman, publisher of World Tennis magazine, for help in forming a women’s tournament.
Together, they signed $1 pro contracts with Heldman and Philip Morris CEO Joseph F. Cullman, 3rd at the Houston Racquet Club. They skipped the sanctioned Pacific Southwest Tournament and played in the newly formed Houston Women’s Invitation for $7,500 in prize money. This became the first tournament on the Virginia Slims Circuit, which eventually became the Women’s Tennis Association. This exhibit follows their inspiring and groundbreaking story.
FRENCH OPEN: A TRIBUTE
In 1980, the French Tennis Federation (Fédération Française de Tennis) and the French Open Tournament Committee partnered with Galerie Lelong & Co. (Paris and New York) to begin a series of annual poster designs with commissioned works by contemporary artists from around the world. Through these diverse art pieces, the creators bring their art to a new audience and demonstrate how the sport of tennis itself can be an art—the players its artists, the court its canvas, the racquet its paintbrush, and the ball its paint.
TENNIS, TOYS & GAMES
Tennis’ prominent place in popular culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries raised interest in tennis-themed games and toys for both children and adults.
The boom of new toys and games was driven, in part, by the rising popularity of child psychology from the 1920s – 1960s, which highlighted the concept of play as an important factor in human development. Puzzles, board games, dolls, and card games were just a few of the types of novelties offered to tennis fans who wanted to experience the game off the court.
This phenomenon of staying connected to tennis while not on the court persists to the current day.
WHEN TENNIS STOPPED
As the world grapples with COVID-19, tennis too has been profoundly affected. Tournaments have been cancelled. Racquets sit in closets. Courts remain empty. Players grow restless, eager to play once again. Of course, all this remains far less significant when compared to the pain many more are going through all over the world. Still, the current crisis offers a chance to recall two other occasions when tennis was interrupted by global events. Here, International Tennis Hall of Fame historian-at-large Joel Drucker tells the tale of tennis during two world wars.
The museum collection at the International Tennis Hall of Fame includes unique and notable inspiring artifacts that typically cannot be seen without visiting the museum in-person. From music that centered David Hall before his matches and cartoon drawings that helped Monica Seles train to incredible objects from Arthur Ashe and his humanitarian work, we've curated this first installment of inspiring artifacts from tennis history.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame's first digital exhibit, Courting Fashion offers a look at the museum's fashion collection in detail while offering an in depth look at the evolution of tennis fashion through the years. Explore tennis apparel, footwear and accessories ranging from the Victorian Era to the tennis dress Billie Jean King wore at the Battle of the Sexes Match against Bobby Riggs in 1973 to the famous black lace dress worn by Venus Williams at the 2010 French Open.
Note: This digital exhibit is the first time that tennis fans have access to the museum's fashion collection in its entirety.
SMASH HIT: THE EVOLUTION OF THE TENNIS RACQUET
Smash Hit: The Evolution of the Tennis Racquet illustrates the evolution of the tennis racquet, and features Hall of Famers using the collections of the Museum. Since the sport’s beginning, racquet manufacturers have experimented with different styles of frame shape and size, construction materials, means of fabrication and production, strings and stringing patterns, and handle shapes.
TINS, CANS & CARTONS
Is there anything better for a tennis player than the sound, scent, and sensation of popping open a fresh can of balls on a beautiful day? There are over 600 tennis ball containers in the museum collection that were previously only accessible to visitors to the museum. Now, the colorful collection is available to explore in this digital exhibit, Tins, Cans, and Cartons.
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