Tennis in The Roaring Twenties
The International Tennis Hall of Fame is located in Newport, Rhode Island includes tennis courts, the old fashion court tennis, and a tennis museum. The museum is situated in the Newport Casino which is a Victorian shingle-style building erected in 1877 but founded as the tennis hall of fame in 1954 by James Van Allen. In the 18th century, casinos were built on personal estates to provide owners with a place for recreation and pleasure. During this time, the Newport Casino provided these pleasures in the form of billiards, concerts, dancing, and of course tennis. In 1881 the Newport Casino hosted the first U.S National Lawn Tennis Championships also known as the present day U.S Open until 1915. The Tennis Hall of Fame Museum is the world's largest tennis museum and holds the most tennis memorabilia. Today it stands as a National Historic Landmark and an outstanding historic museum. One marvelous aspect of the Hall of Fame is that tennis has been played at the site for over a hundred years where countless experiences and achievements have been witnessed. The museum displays this history of tennis through exhibits, videos, and memorabilia.
One particular exhibit on tennis during the roaring twenties or what is called the "Golden Age" of tennis is a fascinating exhibit for history lovers. The overall exhibit takes over an entire room that contains life size statues, paintings, and an abundant amount of tennis memorabilia including tennis rackets, photographs, clothing, and trophies. The walls of the exhibit stick with the tennis theme as they are green and white in color. The numerous paintings and photographs on the walls illustrate what life and tennis was like in the twenties. From the style of clothes to the rackets used, tennis in the roaring twenties was a very different scene.
The period after World War I brought a period of much welcomed leisure and as a result, tennis boomed in popularity. High class citizens were most likely to be the people who played tennis and congregated in Newport, RI because this was an incredible place to play. The photographs hanging on the walls demonstrate this perfectly because the garments men and women wore indicating that the people who played were of the high class. The clothes were very elegant ranging from sweaters and/or suits for men and loose fitting dresses that fall below the knees and headbands worn by the women. The style of dress exemplifies how people in the twenties played sports. While it was necessary to be proper at this facility, men and women were expected to wear white. In addition to the proper sports wear, it was a sport that was being played and players wore some loose fitting and comfortable materials. In the room is a life size figurine of Suzanne Lenglen that is modeling the popular red headband that was both smart for tennis and a fashion item.
During the twenties, professional players became celebrities and were admired for their athleticism and grace. This is seen in the figurine of Suzanne Lenglen as she is swinging a racket. This motion of swinging a racket involves a lot of talent, however her elegance and the way she moved and stroked the ball must not be masked by her athleticism. This was typical of players in the twenties as they seemed to dance on the court. A painting of Don Budge that hangs on the wall reveals many things about that time period. He is in the volley position with his arms stretched out and on one foot which demonstrates his grace and aptitude. The painting helps to show the typical male player who had short hair; dressed in white shirts tucked into white pants, and even white shoes. Wooden rackets are also on display on the walls of the room which were the standard type of racket. Not only does the exhibit show outfits for tennis, but casual clothes are on display as well. Suzanne Lenglen's white dress, red blazer, and white tennis shoes are characteristic of the twenties as well as a men's white sweater resting on a shelf on the wall.
The exhibit on tennis in the roaring twenties does a great job of recapturing the life and atmosphere of the twenties. It is vivacious and exciting to view not only for tennis fans, but for everyone. The room displays the story of tennis through significant objects pertaining to this theme. This room certainly recreates the ambience of what it was like to live and play in the twenties.
The paintings of players and the priceless memorabilia help to prove why the twenties was called the Golden Age of tennis. With all the leisure time people had following World War I, it was common for people to play tennis. Tennis exploded with popularity and quickly developed a strong following of fans. These were some of the best years for tennis because international play increased as shown in some of the photographs of the players in Newport. Intense rivalries emerged which helped the game of tennis for many reasons. In the exhibit, there are many pictures and records of rivals playing each other. There is also a section of the room where a video is shown called the Great Players video. The video includes dramatic and momentous matches as well as historical segments to showcase tennis during the Golden Age.
One thing that the exhibit should have included was more in depth details about the items on display. Even though most objects contained some key points about them, they were very brief. This did not help bring some of the objects to life and feel as if you were in the twenties. On the other hand, in some areas there were audio/video clips playing which was a fantastic way to experience the Golden Age of tennis. In addition, the figurine of Suzanne Lenglen did make up for this. It was appealing to see the garments of the players during the twenties that helped tell the story of tennis players in the twenties. One can envision using the wood rackets to play tennis and how imaginative one had to be when playing compared to today's rackets. The apparel in the glass cases adorned by the players in the twenties helped to visualize what players looked like in person and how tough it would be to play in such a long dress or even in heavy sweaters and pants.
Overall, the exhibit on the Golden Age of tennis during the roaring twenties was fascinating and enlightening. The photographs truly helped to envision what life and tennis was like in the twenties. Since the Newport Casino had a long history before the twenties, it was even more spectacular to read about and how it had influenced this period. The story told through the figurines and photographs was an exceptional one that brought to life the atmosphere of the twenties. Lastly, the museum itself is a wonderful historic shrine to tennis that is full of enthralling stories and memories that everyone should visit.
 International Tennis Hall of Fame, (2005). Tennis' Golden Era - The Roaring Twenties. Retrieved November 13, 2005, http://www.tennisfame.com/roaring20s_gallery.html