Courting Style: Women’s Tennis Fashion

Tennis has been a popular activity for men and women alike since the 1870s, and developed initially as a casual leisure activity that men and women could partake in together at social gatherings. Early tennis fashion developed out of the styles and fabrics that were already in use for other popular outdoor activities, such as cricket and croquet. Like the game itself, tennis fashion has also seen tremendous changes over the years.

Just as every decade has had notable fashion tastemakers, tennis, too has had its share of trendsetters who dared to wear provocative attire on the court. Drawn from the collections at the Museum of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Courting Style: Women’s Tennis Fashion explores this intersection of tennis and fashion.

With an emphasis on outfits worn by the great iconic players, such as Evonne Goolagong, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, Tracy Austin, Maria Sharapova, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, the exhibition explores developments in tennis fashion design as well as fabrications, trends, major championships, identity, and the players themselves.

From skirt lengths to color combinations and hair accessories, tennis fashions have had broader implications in the fashion world, as they reflect concurrent social and cultural contexts. While men’s tennis fashions have changed at slower rates, women’s tennis clothes are consistently a fiercely debated topic, even in regard to the most seemingly minimal alterations. Historian and author Jaime Schultz believes that “from the moment women first picked up their rackets, their attire inspired questions of decorum, social distinction, physicality, and femininity.”

Also included in the exhibition are dresses, illustrations, and photographs from the Museum’s Ted Tinling Collection & Archive. Tinling designed dresses for a slew of the greatest tennis players from the late 1940s through the early 1980s, and his couture creations were alluring, colorful, revolutionary, and emphasized the unique personality of the player.

The International Tennis Hall of Fame preserves and promotes the history of tennis and celebrates its champions, thereby serving as a vital partner in the growth of tennis globally. Dating to the twelfth century and constantly evolving today, tennis has a storied history rooted in inspirational champions, impactful leaders, and great moments that have influenced history, on and off the court. The Museum at the International Tennis Hall of Fame shares the narrative of tennis history from its origins through present day.

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Tour Schedule

Courting Style: Women’s Tennis Fashion will tour January 2021 through January 2024. The dates below reflect seven-week exhibition periods. Dates are subject to change; please contact or (800) 473-3872 x208/209 for current availability.

  • January 28–May 23, 2021 Reading Public Museum
    Reading, PA
  • September 1, 2021-January 7, 2022 Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame
    Oklahoma City, OK
  • January 28–March 16, 2022 Marco Island Historical Soceity
    Marco Island, FL
  • April 6–May 25, 2022 Save 50% on rental fees
  • June 16–August 11, 2022 West Baton Rouge Museum
    Port Allen, LA
  • September 1–October 20, 2022 Refurbishment
    Kansas City, MO
  • November 10, 2022–January 7, 2023
  • January 28–March 16, 2023
  • April 6–May 25, 2023
  • June 16–October 20, 2023 Colorado State University
    Fort Collins, CO
  • November 10, 2023–January 7, 2024

Exhibition Details

Forty-three items, including twenty-eight outfits and dresses

  • Content

    Fee Includes
    Press Kit
    Registrar’s Packet
    Programming Guide
    Gallery Guide
    Text Panels
    Narrative Labels
    Full Insurance
    Installation Instructions
    Custom-Designed and Built Crates

  • Curated By

    International Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport, Rhode Island

  • Organized By

    International Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport, Rhode Island

  • Out-of-Region Rental Fee


  • In-Region Rental Fee


  • Duration

    seven-week display

  • Shipping

    Fine Art

  • Running Feet


  • Square Feet

    1000, some stanchions and pedestals required

  • Security

    Moderate B

  • Number of Crates/Total Weight

    estimated nine crates/TBD

  • Insurance

    The exhibition is fully insured by ExhibitsUSA at no additional expense to you, both while installed and during transit.