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Modern tennis is believed to have been first played by Franciscan monks in the 11th or 12th century, although roots of the sport may have extended as far back as ancient Egypt. Also called “jeu de paume” or “game of the palm,” tennis grew in popularity across England during the 16th century, gaining equipment and rule sets by the 1800s. Today, millions of people play tennis worldwide, and some of the most elite earn their way to the Grand Slam tournaments.
The earliest known tennis memorabilia dates back to the 19th century, with wooden rackets, original art, and awards considered rare and highly prized. More easily available to collectors include programs, ticket stubs, autographs, tennis balls, posters, trading cards, apparel, and periodicals. Of particular interest to some are old tennis ball cans made of metal, paper, or cardboard.
A racket used by Bjorn Borg during his 1981 Wimbledon final versus John McEnroe sold on a 2007 Christie’s auction for $26,638
The International Tennis Hall of Fame is located in Newport, Rhode Island. Each summer, the museum holds a Hall of Fame induction ceremony, giving fans the opportunity to meet tennis stars and get autographs
Beginning in 2012, the U.S. Open has sold authenticated, game-used tennis balls at the tournament, using the MeiGray Group for authentication services. Match-point balls are put up for auction on the U.S. Open’s website