History of Tennis in Newport

Tennis in Newport

The history of tennis in Newport is synonymous with tennis in America. Since 1881, when American tournament tennis began on the grass courts of the Newport Casino, the world’s best players have competed in Newport, the cradle of American tennis. Newport has witnessed each new generation of tennis stars from 1881 to the present. 

In 1915, the U.S. National Lawn Tennis Championships moved from Newport to the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, New York. However, the world’s foremost players continued to play in Newport at the Newport Casino Invitational. From 1915 to 1967, the Casino Invitational hosted the world’s premier players. The list of tennis stars that played and won at Newport reads like a who’s who in tennis- “Big” Bill Tilden, “Little” Bill Johnston, Ellsworth Vines, Frank Shields, Wilmer Allison, Don Budge, Bobby Riggs, Don McNeil, Gardnar Mulloy, Ted Schroeder, Bill Talbert, Pancho Gonzales, Frank Sedgman, Tony Trabert, Ken Rosewall, Mal Anderson, Rod Laver, Chuck McKinley, Roy Emerson, and Dennis Ralston.  

The Professional Men’s Singles and Doubles lasted from 1965 to 1970. In 1971, professional women’s tennis finally came to Newport with The Professional Women’s Singles and The Professional Women Doubles from 1971-74.  Standing room only crowds watched Kerry Melville, Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, and Françoise Dürr play exceptional tennis. The Virginia Slims of Newport returned from 1983-1986. The National Amateur Grass Court returned from 1974 to 1976.

In 1976, the Miller Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, a stop on the ATP World Tour, debuted attracting many of the young talents on the men's tour.

Currently, the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships is the only professional tennis tournament played on grass in the United States. The tournament welcomes many of the game’s rising players who make Newport an important stop in their careers.