Tennis Pictures, Anyone?

I was delighted to see this picture as the lead image in a “Free to Use” set of images focusing on tennis that was recently added to the Library’s Web site.

Miss E. Moore. Photo by Bain News Service, between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ggbain.09640

Miss E. Moore. Photo by Bain News Service, between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ggbain.09640

I remember printing out the image years ago for my own personal folder of favorite “mid-air views.” Not only do I admire the energy and skill on display in Bessie Holmes Moore’s leap for the ball, but it takes talent and skill on the part of the photographer to be able to snap the picture at just the right time to capture the action.

There is plenty to admire in the energy and action shown in other photos in the set. I don’t know how accurately the unnamed player in this photo returned the ball, but it’s an impressive mid-air view of another type–the hovering ball is so clear!  (And the scene only slightly painfully reminds me that I can probably count on the fingers of two hands how many times I managed to return a ball that was hit to me in my childhood attempts to play tennis.)

Tennis, Chevy Chase Club, Chevy Chase, Maryland. Photo by Harris & Ewing, 1928. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hec.34987

Tennis, Chevy Chase Club, Chevy Chase, Maryland. Photo by Harris & Ewing, 1928. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hec.34987

I figured that a colleague who much more successfully kept her eye on the ball would have a favorite among the photos. Sure enough, reference specialist Jan Grenci, who played tennis competitively in college, remarked on this one:

Tennis talk Althea Gibson, U.S. and Wimbledon tennis champion, gives some pointers on the game which has brought her international fame. Some 500 students attended the tennis clinic yesterday at Midwood HS, directed by Murray Eisenstadt, varsity coach. Photo by Ed. Ford. 1957. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ds.04399

Tennis talk Althea Gibson, U.S. and Wimbledon tennis champion, gives some pointers on the game which has brought her international fame. Some 500 students attended the tennis clinic yesterday at Midwood HS, directed by Murray Eisenstadt, varsity coach. Photo by Ed. Ford. 1957. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ds.04399

In addition to taking a tennis nerd’s (her words, not mine) pleasure in identifying the company that produced Althea Gibson’s racket (Harry C. Lee & Company), Jan commented: “Can you imagine attending this clinic and getting some pointers from Althea Gibson? By the time this photo was taken in December of 1957, Ms. Gibson had won Wimbledon and the French and U.S. Championships.”

Another that caught my eye was the advertising print for “Horsman’s Celebrated Lawn Tennis.”

Horsman's celebrated lawn tennis / Charles Hart lith., N.Y. Chromolithograph by harles Hart Lith., copyrighted 1882. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pga.07033

Horsman’s celebrated lawn tennis. Chromolithograph by Charles Hart Lith., copyrighted 1882. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pga.07033

Apparently this lawn tennis set came compactly in a box complete with rackets and a net, with this print used as a decorative label on the inside of the lid. I enjoy all that it conveys about outdoor leisure. And it reminds me a little of badminton, where I could at least return a serve!

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2 Comments

  1. Barbara Orbach Natanson
    August 14, 2020 at 11:08 am

    Thinking more about the stance of the Chevy Chase Country Club tennis player, we realized she has probably tossed the ball in the air and is poised to serve it, rather than returning a ball coming across the net at her – still an impressive mid-air view. And a good illustration of how photos can keep you looking and thinking!

  2. Brent Dunlap
    August 19, 2020 at 2:01 pm

    Most historians believe that tennis originated in the monastic cloisters in northern France in the 12th century, but the ball was then struck with the palm of the hand; hence, the name jeu de paume (“game of the palm”)

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