Tennis at the National Museum of African American History and Culture

There’s quite a bit of buzz coming from the National Mall in Washington, DC and no we aren’t talking political buzz. The newest Smithsonian, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, recently opened and tickets are hard to come by. Reserved passes to the museum are booked until May.

Within the halls of this new museum are countless cultural treasures including several relating to tennis. We recently contacted the museum to find out more about their collection and in celebration of the start of Black History Month, we’re giving you a behind-the-scenes look at some of the tennis photos and artifacts in the museum. It certainly doesn’t compare to seeing the museum in person, though, so be sure to check it all out when you’re able to snag a ticket!

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Althea Gibson’s membership card to the American Tennis Association (On exhibit)

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Boxer Sugar Ray Robinson’s correspondence to Gibson. What was important about Sept. 12, 1951? That was the day he regained the middle weight title over Randy Turpin. (Not on exhibit)

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Althea Gibson went to the State Department to promote tennis and received this thank you note in return (Not on exhibit)

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“From what we get, we can make a living; from what we give, however, makes a life” -Arthur Ashe

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Althea Gibson’s stardom landed her on this magazine cover in 1957 (Not on exhibit)

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Gibson’s Wrightman Cup blazer from 1957 (On exhibit)

USTA Mid-Atlantic thanks the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Smithsonian Institute for providing these images.


Chris Lewitzke is the social media and engagement coordinator at USTA Mid-Atlantic. His favorite Smithsonian museum is the Air & Space Museum Dulles with the massive space shuttles.