Marco Island Historical Society (MIHS) announces the opening of a new exhibit at the Marco Island Historical Museum (MIHM), “Courting Style: Women’s Tennis Fashion.” The exhibition is free and open to the public and will run from February 1 to March 16, 2022. An opening reception will be held on February 3 from 4:30 PM to 6:00 PM. The Island Country Club Charitable Foundation is the presenting sponsor.
Tennis has been a popular activity for both men and women since the 1870s, initially developing as an informal leisure activity in which men and women could participate in social gatherings together. Early tennis fashion evolved from the styles and fabrics already in use for other popular outdoor activities, such as cricket and croquet.
Just as every decade has had notable fashion tastemakers, tennis has had its share of trendsetters who dared to wear provocative clothes on the court. Their bold, statement-making attire at court influenced the change in fashion as well as social mores. Based on the collections of the Museum of International Tennis Hall of Fame, “Courting Style: Women’s Tennis Fashion” explores this intersection of tennis and fashion.
The exhibition covers fashions ranging from the 1880s to those worn by some of the most iconic players in tennis today. The exhibit also features dresses, illustrations, and photographs from the Hall of Fame’s Ted Tinling collection and archive. Tinling designed dresses for some of the greatest tennis players from the late 1940s to early 1980s. His couture creations were attractive, colorful, revolutionary and emphasized the unique personality of the player. “Courting Style: Women’s Tennis Fashion” is hosted by International Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport, Rhode Island, and toured ExhibitsUSA, a Mid-America Arts Alliance program.
A look at Marco Island’s own tennis history will be presented in an accompanying MIHS exhibition. Since the Mackle Brothers began developing Marco Island in the 1960s, tennis, fishing, and golf have been central to the island’s perception as a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. In particular, the Marco Beach Hotel was a major factor in bringing tennis to Marco Island in the 1970s, hosting tournaments and offering exhibitions and clinics to guests.
Some of the biggest names in women’s tennis have played on Marco Island. Tournaments such as the now-defunct Avon Cup — part of the Virginia Slims World Championship Series — took place at Marriott’s Marco Beach Resort (now JW Marriott), bringing world-class tennis to the island. Tennis stars who play on Marco Island range from Andrea Jaeger and Bonnie Gadusek to Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and others.
The Marco Island Historical Museum is located at 180 South Heathwood Drive. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9am to 4pm. Admission is free and the site is handicapped accessible. For general information, visit www.themihs.org or call 239-642-1440.