Exhibition: ‘Tennis and the Olympics’

August 21, 2012

NEWPORT, R.I. — On the heels of the very exciting 2012 London Olympics, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum will present a special exhibition at the US Open detailing the history of tennis in the Olympics and the Paralympics, from 1896 through the recent Games. Tennis and the Olympics showcases some of the most successful and interesting tennis Olympians in history, and highlights the appeal of tennis as one of the world’s most international sports. The exhibition will feature dynamic photos of great moments in Olympic tennis and a full listing of every Olympic and Paralympic tennis medalist in history. Additionally, the exhibition will detail the interesting role that tennis has played in the Games, having gone from a full medal sport to having no presence for many years, and back to a full medal, extremely popular sport in the last several decades.

The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum Gallery at the US Open will be open daily, August 27 – September 9, and admission is complimentary for guests attending the US Open. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum Gallery at the US Open is located in the Chase Center, alongside the US Open Bookstore.

“Tennis has had an interesting relationship with the Olympic Games over the years. As we saw in the most recent Games, fan interest in tennis as an Olympic sport is extremely high. Players openly spoke about their great desire for an Olympic medal, and audiences in London and at home followed the progress of players from their nation with unprecedented enthusiasm. In this exhibit, we aim to educate fans on the history of tennis in the Olympics and showcase what great progress has been made, while also delighting them with interesting anecdotes and dramatic images, spanning from 1896 through 2012,” said Museum Director Doug Stark. “In addition, we are pleased to work with the Arthur Ashe Learning Center on a one-of-a-kind, truly outstanding photo exhibit showcasing an intimate look at Hall of Famer Arthur Ashe.”

Adjacent to the Olympic exhibit, the gallery will host Arthur Ashe as Amateur: 1966, a special collection of photos of Arthur Ashe, shot and compiled by renowned LIFE magazine photographer Rowland Scherman. In 1966, as Ashe was making his ascent in the tennis world and the nation was in the height of the Civil Rights movement, Scherman followed Ashe, then an amateur player, on the road from Texas to Los Angeles. The photos of their journey offer a rare glimpse of a champion in the making.

Tennis and the Olympics takes a look at the highs and lows of every Olympic and Paralympic Games in which tennis has had a presence in since 1896. Fans will be able to read about historic victories, such as Steffi Graf’s 1988 Gold Medal, which made her the first person, and the only person to date, to achieve the Golden Slam (all four majors and the Olympic gold medal in one year). Guests will also take away some interesting tennis tidbits- for example, who would have guessed that the 1900 champion would have won a coffee and liqueur serving table as his Olympic prize, or that some years there were both indoor and outdoor tennis events contested? Additionally, the exhibit details the role of tennis in the Games- a competitive full medal sport in the early years; a demonstration sport in 1968 and 1984; and its return as a full medal sport in 1988, something that was initially met with trepidation by players and fans, but has been embraced enthusiastically in recent years.

The exhibit also takes a look at the Paralympic Games, highlighting how eight competitors from five nations showed off their skills at the 1988 Seoul Olympics in a convincing demonstration that propelled wheelchair tennis to a full medal sport at Barcelona in 1992.

Dynamic imagery pops throughout the exhibit, including great moments from the unstoppable Williams sisters, who have captured three gold medals in doubles and one each in singles; the extraordinary wheelchair tennis champion Esther Vergeer, who has won five Paralympic gold medals (3 in singles, 2 in doubles); and the overjoyed Andy Murray who captured gold before his home crowd at the Olympics in London just weeks ago.

Located in Newport, Rhode Island, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum highlights the history of tennis from its 12th century origins through present-day, as well as the fascinating life stories of the game’s greatest athletes and industry contributors. The extensive collection features vintage tennis equipment, video highlights and iconic photos, tennis apparel ranging from Victorian dresses to modern fashions, tennis inspired paintings and fine arts, and memorabilia from remarkable moments as recent as the current-year Grand Slams. Changing exhibits and special exhibitions, similar to Tennis and the Olympics, are displayed year-round in the Museum.

For additional information about the exhibit at the US Open or about the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, please call 401-849-3990 or visit