Latest News and Blogs

Tennis Memorabilia

From the mid 1870s and the again in the 1930s the shape of the tennis racket changed enormously!

11/07/2024     Blog

Wimbledon has arrived! Tennis despite being a relatively young game, invented in 1874 by Major Walter Wingfield has many avid memorabilia collectors and early rackets are very sought after. 

From the mid 1870s and the again in the 1930s the shape of the tennis racket changed enormously, so early examples with their asymmetrical heads can be very valuable regardless of any association with a known player and can sell for as much as £2000-3000 at auction. Those however associated with legendary players like Fred Perry are a true collectors dream  and can attract many thousands of pounds at auction. A match used racket belonging to Novak Djokovic and played at his winning Wimbledon championship in 2011 recently sold at auction for an amazing £36,000. 

Presentation trophies too are collectable though novelty items which reflect the popularity of the early game are also of interest.  Teapots, clocks and particularly jewellery were produced, a wide range of which featured racket and ball motifs. A silver trophy cup awarded to Harold Mahony for winning the Gentleman’s All Comers Final in 1896 sold for £10,000 at auction a few years ago. 

Like Wisden’s Almanack for cricket, tennis has Ayres’ Lawn Tennis Almanack, edited by Wallis Myers.  Unlike Wisden’s, which is still going, it was only published from 1908 to 1938, the year that Myers died.  Despite this, to realise good prices in the auction room today the Almanack must be in mint condition and a full set is desirable.

Wimbledon specific memorabilia is always collectable. Programmes from the 1930s and earlier are now very rare and a must for collectors. A particularly popular programme would be from the first Championship held at the present site in Church Road in 1922. Programmes before this when the club was located in Worple Road, also in Wimbledon, are extremely sought after, especially from the First Championship held in 1877, when would you believe, only 160 people attended. A programme from 1880 fetched £6500 at auction. 

Why not collect memorabilia from a particular player. Did you know that Martina Navratilova is the player who has won the most titles winning 9 times whilst Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and William Renshaw have all won 7 times. Signed programmes or signed championship dinner invitations or menus are another popular area of collecting with prices ranging from as little as £50 to a few hundred pounds.