WATCH: Monica Puig visits the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport ⤴️

The pristine lawns and shingled stone buildings at the International Tennis Hall of Fame are tucked behind an unassuming entrance in a Newport shopping area, creating the allure of a hidden gem. Indeed, the birthplace of American tennis is one of the sport’s crown jewels, and the museum is tennis’ most important storyteller.

Pass under a red-brick arch and step back nearly 1,000 years to the very origins of the sport. Visitors can tour 2,000 square feet of galleries, visit the sport’s official Hall of Fame, walk the grounds, and even put on their tennis whites for a clinic or a hit on the finest grass courts on this side of the pond.

“The prestige and elegance make everything feel like Wimbledon,” says Destination Tennis host Monica Puig.

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Walk through the front door—a portal, really—on Bellevue Avenue, and be transported back in time.

Walk through the front door—a portal, really—on Bellevue Avenue, and be transported back in time.

A multimillion-dollar renovation will start in November in anticipation of more attendance once men’s tennis’ Big Four and the Williams sisters are inducted in the near future.

“The confluence with all-time legends retiring and it feeling like a boom of tennis at the moment, the interest level seems pretty high,” ITHF president Patrick McEnroe told Forbes.

Set at the former Newport Casino, which opened in 1880 as a social club, the museum remains open until November, with the exception of July 13–21, when the site hosts the ATP’s Hall of Fame Open (for the last time). Plan to spend a few hours reveling in tennis history. One of the most unusual features is the Court Tennis Facility, which serves as an example of the earliest form of the sport, known as “real tennis.” Aristocrats competed in a courtyard surrounded by high walls and tiers of seating areas, and the ball could be played off sides of the wall. The court here was built in 1880, destroyed by a fire in the 1940s, and rebuilt in 1980 with the original floor preserved. It’s still in use as the National Tennis Center, the oldest court-tennis facility in the country. If a game is in progress, visitors are welcome to watch.

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The galleries display 2,000 items from the museum’s vast collection, encompassing clothing, trophies, equipment, furniture and much more. Together, they tell the story of how tennis grew from medieval beginnings into a world-class sport. The rarest items are Greek coins depicting the sport and a painting from 1538 depicting real tennis.

“My favorite thing was the evolution of ball cans,” Puig says. (The 2016 Olympic gold medalist also loved the display on tennis at the Games.)

The Hall's colorful ball-can exhibit is a showstopper.

The Hall's colorful ball-can exhibit is a showstopper.

The museum traces the sport through present day. Coco Gauff’s outfit from her US Open title run is already on display. Ambitious original exhibits spotlight tennis’ role in social progress and players who had an impact off the court, such as military service members who fought in wars.

“Tennis has given a lot to the world,” says Nicole Markham, curator of collections. “A lot of what we do is put the sport’s history into context of world history and culture.”

Visitors can test their knowledge at a trivia touch table and travel back to Arthur Ashe’s historic US Open win in 1968 through a virtual reality experience.

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“Tennis has given a lot to the world,” says Nicole Markham, curator of collections. “A lot of what we do is put the sport’s history into context of world history and culture.”

“Tennis has given a lot to the world,” says Nicole Markham, curator of collections. “A lot of what we do is put the sport’s history into context of world history and culture.”

Of course, champions are heavily represented. The museum pays tributes to the greats in the Grand Slam Gallery and the Enshrinement Gallery, where interactive kiosks introduce more than 250 Hall of Fame inductees from 27 countries. Guided tours are offered in the summer.

The Hall of Fame’s plans to modernize and expand will be the first such project since 2015. More than $3 million worth of changes will bring a sleeker, brighter Hall of Champions Gallery with more space for donated attire and equipment, and bold digital displays. The section will debut a new honor for each inductee, a sculptural gold racquet cast in metal. Long, orderly rows of the racquet for past inductees figure prominently into the redesign from Nashville-based experiential design firm Advent. Renderings reveal interiors combining gleaming white fixtures, dark woodwork, and accents of forest green.

Most visible among the upgrades will be a new display for the inductees, replacing plaques on the wall with a lineup of markers, each including a golden tennis racquet that mirrors the Hall of Fame’s logo.

Most visible among the upgrades will be a new display for the inductees, replacing plaques on the wall with a lineup of markers, each including a golden tennis racquet that mirrors the Hall of Fame’s logo.

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“We want to preserve what’s already out there with the incredible history of tennis, but to prepare for global eyes to be a part of this in Newport,” said Dan Faber, CEO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. “It’s perfect timing with this era of who is going to be inducted over the next five years or so in tennis.”

One of the most popular additions stands to be an updated Roger Federer Hologram—a digital, life-size simulation of the Swiss legend in action and talking about what tennis means to him. The current version that visitors can see will be replaced with an expanded immersive experience and a fresh, post-retirement hologram of Federer.

The renovations will also double the exhibit space, including a new section devoted to Newport’s tennis heritage that will incorporate all of the US Open trophies over the decades. Other improvements include a new retail shop, welcome area, exit, and event space.

A grand reopening is slated for May 2025.

This year's Infosys Hall of Fame Open will be the last on the ATP Tour schedule.

This year's Infosys Hall of Fame Open will be the last on the ATP Tour schedule.

International Tennis Hall of Fame

194 Bellevue Ave. Newport, R.I.
401-849-3990
Open 7 days a week, 10:00am - 5:00pm

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Tennis at a Glance

  • Facilities: 13 outdoor grass courts, three indoor hard courts, three outdoor hard courts, one outdoor Har-Tru clay court; one court-tennis court at the National Tennis Club
  • Lights: No
  • Rates: Outdoor court rental $250/hour for nonmembers
  • The grass courts are open to the public from May 15 through October 13.