Tennis memorabilia and collectibles
Tennis memorabilia and collectibles are sports memorabilia items associated with the game of tennis. Real Tennis gained popularity in England and France during the 16th century but it was not until the latter half of the 19th century that the modern version of the game came into existence.
Memorabilia and collectibles can include:
- Game worn equipment and apparel
- Signed photos
Items connected with tennis’ leading stars from yesteryear can achieve considerable sums. Players in this bracket include:
- Suzanne Lenglen
- Billie Jean King
- Martina Navratilova
- Chris Evert
- Fred Perry
- Rod Laver
- Arthur Ashe
- Bjorn Borg
- John McEnroe
- Boris Becker
Sales of tennis collectibles do not currently match those associated with other major sports, such as football or American football. This is due, in part, to the game’s relatively low standing among the sport-watching fraternity.
However, this also means that it is possible to pick up important items of tennis memorabilia at relatively modest prices, which could make nice investment material if and when tennis gains a greater foothold in the public’s affections.
Many of the game’s biggest sales are associated with the Wimbledon tournament, played for two weeks in June and July in London each year. Memorabilia from the three others majors, the Australian, French and US Opens, can also command considerable interest among investors.
- Played!!, an 1885 oil painting by Sir John Lavery which depicts a game of tennis, sold for £657,250 at Christie’s in London in May 2011.
- In October 2009, a gold bracelet awarded to Blanche Bingley, the second winner of the Wimbledon ladies' singles championship in 1886, sold at a Guernsey auction in New York for $18,000.
- A miniature version of the President’s Cup, awarded to Bjorn Borg for winning the men’s Wimbledon title in 1976, achieved £26,400 at Christie’s in 2007.
- The Renshaw Cup, awarded to the winner of the men’s singles at Wimbledon between 1905 and 1949, sold for £31,200 at Christie’s in 2006.
- Bjorn Borg's Donnay Pro "Personal Model" tennis racket from his 1981 Wimbledon final victory over John McEnroe sold for £6,600 at Bonhams in 2006.
- At a Christie’s auction in 1997, the racket Fred Perry used to win his first Wimbledon title in 1933 sold for £23,000.
- The 1920 Wimbledon trophy won by Bill Tilden sold in 1992 for $71,500.
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