If you're tennis mad - or you're raising the next Steffi Graff or Pete Sampras - the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum is a must stop on any visit to London. Opened at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in 2006 to replace an older (and stuffier) museum, the new attraction is a thoroughly 21st century experience that's well worth making the trip to Wimbledon to visit. It features interactive displays, a 200 degree cinema, all sorts of tennis memorabilia - going way back to 1555 - and even a tennis phantom.
You Cannot Be Serious
Well, actually we are. In one of the exhibits, the "wraith" of John McEnroe takes visitors on a tour of a recreation of the 1980s "Gentlemen's Changing Room", while reminiscing about how he first met Jimmy Connors and explaining how he psyched himself up for the game.
Total Immersion Cinema
The 200 Degree Cinema surrounds visitors in a the 2005 Centre Court Championship match between Maria Sharapova and Nuria Llagostera Vives of Spain. A special, panoramic rig, shooting simultaneously with five cameras, produced a film that can be stopped at any point and rotated to show all aspects of the action from any action.
The film explores the science of tennis, looking at different points of the match and showing how the players bodies, their equipment and even the trajectory of the ball are influenced during the match.
Centre Court 360
Right beside the world's most famous grass court, visitors (on non-Championship days) can try a touch screen interpretation with interactive galleries.
A variety of exhibits help visitors perfect their grips and understand some of the physics of tennis. There's even one where visitors can check out the weight of women's and men's tennis clothes from the early days of the game.
This is the place to get up close to the famous Wimbledon Championship trophies - the ones you've probably seen on television and a collections of cups, plates and prizes going back three centuries. Other items in the collection include:
- Fashion and jewelry - Ever wonder what the members of the Tudor Royal Court wore when they played this game in the garden? See fashions, fabrics and accessories from 1555 to the tennis whites of yesterday and the fashion collections of some of the game's celebrity players.
- Equipment - Rackets, balls and rolling machines show how science has influenced generations of equipment and the game as a result.
- Memorabilia - Clothing and emphemera representing famous players and tennis pioneers, regularly updated to include players now on the professional circuit.
- Decorative and fine arts - Tennis has inspired creative artists for centuries. The collection includes cartoons and other works on paper, paintings, sculpture and metalwork. See a range of works from Art Deco figures of tennis players to paintings depicting rackets and real tennis, both forerunners of modern tennis.
- Toys and ephemera - Barbie and Cabbage Patch Dolls played tennis and players licenced their names to tennis themed games as far back as the 1930s. Advertising materials, packaging, tickets, Victorian invitations, banquet menus, even stickers for members of the Wimbledon queue are included in the ephemera collections.
- The Olympic Collection - The last time Olympic tennis was played at Wimbledon was 1908. In the run up to the London 2012 Olympics - when Wimbledon will once again host the tennis - the museum is building up its collection of materials about Olympic tennis.
- The Museum Shop - Just inside the museum entrance, the shop sells souvenirs and official Wimbledon merchandise.
Visits to the museum can be combined with guided tours of the Wimbledon grounds, including Centre Court, the press interview room and other areas not open to the public during the Championship period. Tours should be booked in advance, by phoning the museum at the number below. The price of the tour includes admission to the Museum.
Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum Essentials
- What: An exciting array of interactive exhibits, films and experiences for tennis and sports history fans
- Where: Between Gates 3 and 4 of All England Lawn Tennis Club, home of the Wimbledon Championships, Church Road, Wimbledon, London SW19 5AE.
- Opening: Every day, throughout the year -10 a.m.to 5 p.m. with last entry at 4:30 p.m. During the Wimbledon Championships, only Championship ticket holders are admitted and some attractions, close to Centre Court, are closed. Outside of the Championships, the museum is open to all members of the public.
- Admission: Fees for adults, concessions (students and seniors), children and groups are available. Check the museum website for current prices.
- Telephone: +44 (0)20 8946 6131.
- Eating and Drinking: The Renshaw Café near No.1 Court is open for breakfast, lunch and tea. Menus can be pre-booked for groups.
- Getting there: Parking is limited to non-existent depending upon construction around the site. The best way to get to the museum is by rail or London Underground plus bus. Take London Underground to Southfields on the District Line or Tooting Broadway on the Northern Line and catch the number 493 bus. Alternatively, catch a train from Waterloo Station to Wimbledon Station and get the 493 bus there. The journey takes about 10 minutes. Check National Rail Enquiries for times and prices.