The modern version of tennis is credited to a Welsh major named Walter Clopton Wingfield, who patented the game in 1874. Wingfield gave his pastime two names: the Greek derived “sphairistike” and “lawn tennis.” Not surprisingly, the second name stuck.

Within a year, the All England Croquet Club at Wimbledon had added lawn tennis to the diversions offered to its members, and in 1877, the words “Lawn Tennis” were formally added to its name. That was also the year the club held its first championship in men’s singles. Tournament play for what we now call the U.S. Open began in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1881. Thus, the first two tennis Grand Slams were born—the first French Open was played in 1891, the Australian Open arrived in 1905, and in 1915 the U.S. Open moved to Forest Hills, New York.

For collectors of tennis memorabilia, anything from the 19th century is a prize, be it a wooden racquet strung with gut or an early trophy, although such pieces are mostly the stuff of museums and exclusive private collections.

More accessible are items from the 1920s, the so-called golden age of tennis. On the men’s side, when Bill Tilden wasn’t winning Wimbledon, René Lacoste (of crocodile-logo-shirt fame) was. Helen Wills Moody was the star among female players, winning Wimbledon eight times in the ’20s and ’30s, which stood as the record until Martina Navratilova won her ninth in 2000.

Vintage tennis memorabilia from the years between the wars include sports posters advertising matches at Wimbledon, the availability of courts at a luxury resort, or the latest Slazenger or Spalding tennis balls. More recently, posters from Roland Garros, site of the French Open, have gained a following. Ticket stubs to any of the Grand Slams are also collected.

For some reason, vintage tennis racquets are not as expensive as you might think they would be. Some people collect racquets of famous players. Jack Kramer swung a wooden Wilson, and his namesake racquet was introduced in 1948. Rod Laver and John McEnroe, whose on-court demeanor could not have been more different, both used a Dunlop Maxply, while Bjorn Born played with Bancrofts and Donnays.

Arthur Ashe was a racquet pioneer, playing a Head metal-and-plastic racquet called the Arthur Ashe Competition in 1969—its flat face was distinctive but did not last in tennis ci...

Today, the most widely collected tennis items are probably tennis-ball cans, from cardboard to metal, and player autographs. Collectors and fans look for signatures on everything from tennis balls to photographs, trading cards, and magazine covers.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Vintage Tennis Balls

Vintage Tennis Balls

Brad McCall serves up the definitive vintage tennis ball site ('hermetically sealed fresh under pressure'). Browse … [read review or visit site]

The Wheelmen

The Wheelmen

This elegant tribute to turn-of-the-century bicycling includes memorabilia, photographs, and an index of 3140 bicyc… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

2012 Topps Allen & Ginter Tennis Roger Federer Auto (pwcc)2006 Ace Authentic Grand Slam Center Court Tennis Maria Sharapova Auto Bgs 9.5 2013 Ace Authentic Tennis Maria Sharapova Auto Autograph 3/52005 Ace Authentic Signature Moments Tennis Maria Sharapova Auto 27/50 Bgs 9.5 2005 Ace Authentic Signature Series Tennis Maria Sharapova Auto 23/100 Bgs 9.5 2013 Ace Authentic Tennis Maria Sharapova Auto Autograph 3/32008 Ace Authentic Grand Slam Gold Tennis Maria Sharapova Auto 8/24 Bgs 2007 Ace Authentic Straight Sets Aces Tennis Maria Sharapova Auto /136 Bgs 92014 Leaf Tennis Die-cut Martina Hingis Auto #a-mh1 (pwcc)2016 Topps Allen & Ginter Maria Sharapova Mini Framed AutoWimbledon Tennis Official Merchandise Towel - Brand New - 2004Vtg 90's Nike Sampras Tennis Supreme Court Hat Cap Challenge Agassi Jim Courier1933 Goudey Sport Kings Ellsworth Vines Tennis #46 Psa 6 Exmt (pwcc)Afc Wimbledon Match Used Ball Season 2013/14Wimbledon 2017 Championships. 2 Tickets ! No. 2 Court, 3rd Round, Fri 7th July.1986 Panini Supersport Italian Tennis Steffi Graf #198 Psa 9 Mint (pwcc)2012 Goodwin Champions Masterpieces Tennis Hof James Dwight 7/10 Mt!Vintage Wood Tennis Racket SlazengerAfc Wimbledon Match Worn Shorts - George Francomb - 7 - Dftba -Anna Kournikova Signed 16x20 Tennis Photo Auto Autograph Psa/dna Coa2016 Leaf Metal Tennis Andy Murray Autograph Auto Blue Refractor /25Roger Federer Signed Autograph 103/1451933 Goudey Sport Kings Bill Tilden Tennis #16 Bvg 5.5 Ex+ (pwcc)2013 Ace Grand Slam Rafael Nadal National Pride Autograph CardA Serena Williams Match-used Custom Nike Tennis Top. 2013 Us Open.2016 Leaf Metal Tennis Shuai Zhang Base Prismatic Auto Lot Of 5 Cards2016 Leaf Metal Tennis Yi Chen Base Prismatic Auto Lot Of 5 Cards2016 Leaf Metal Tennis Andy Murray Fastest Serve Purple Prismatic Auto 14/152016 Leaf Metal Tennis Shelby Rogers Autograph Auto Green Refractor 4/52016 Leaf Metal Tennis Nicole Gibbs Blue Prismatic Auto Lot Of 5 #ed /50Lawn Tennis Measure C1910 Intact And Original1949 Orig Pen & Ink Davis Cup Pancho Gonzales Tennis By Karl HubenthalVintage Antique Old Wood A G Spalding Solcum Tennis Racket Raquet Baseball MarkVintage Antique Wood Davega Tennis RacketAntique Wood Tennis Racket WilsonVintage Voit Aristocrat Tennis BallsAnna Kournikova Signed 16x20 Tennis Photo Auto Autograph Psa/dna CoaAce Tennis Maria Sharapova 4 Card Lot With 2 Worn Jersey Cards1930 Cloetta #52 Helen Wills Moody Psa 3 Vg! Tennis Hof!2007 Ace Authentic Jennifer Capriati Tennis Star Autographed CardBeyond The Game---helen Hull Jacobs Hardcover Tennis Book (1936!!!)2016 Leaf Metal Tennis Elena Vesnina Blue Prismatic Auto Lot Of 5 #ed /502015 Leaf Ultimate Tennis Anna Kournikova Base Bronze Auto Autograph2006 Ace Authentic Hometown Heroes Dual Jersey Anna Kournikova Maria Sharapova2016 Leaf Metal Tennis Ivan Lendl National Pride Purple Prismatic Auto 06/15Sale Carl Leaburn Wimbledon Fc Hand Signed Photo Authentic Genuine + Coa - 12x8Rafael Nadal Autographed Tennis BallVintage Brass Token Key Ring Wimbledon Tennis Club No. 6-londonAntique Wood Tennis Racket Wright And Ditson Challenge CupAntique Vintage Riddell Track Tennis Shoes Rare Sneakers Cleats Soccer 9.5 UsaVintage Cortland Smoke Tone Wood Tennis Racket1945 Autographs Game Big Tennis Bill Tilden Psa 6 Exmt (pwcc)2016 Leaf Metal Tennis Petra Kvitova Autograph/auto Purple /15 O28262015 Leaf Ultimate Tennis Anna Kournikova Jumbo Memorabilia Swatch Auto2016 Leaf Metal Tennis Taylor Townsend Base Prismatic Auto Lot Of 5 CardsEverything You Need To Know About Lawn Tennis; 1934 Advice From Many Top PlayersHarry C. Lee Co. New York Vintage Tennis Racquet "university" From Estate2016 Leaf Metal Tennis Kevin Anderson Base Prismatic Auto Lot Of 5 Cards2016 Leaf Metal Tennis Timea Babos Base Prismatic Auto Lot Of 5 Cards2016 Leaf Metal Tennis Elena Vesnina Base Prismatic Auto Lot Of 5 Cards