Digital Experiences
Thought Leadership

International Tennis Hall of Fame Plans Doubling of Exhibit Space

Written by

Tim Newcomb, Contributor


The International Tennis Hall of Fame knows plenty of new, global eyes will be on its Newport, Rhode Island, location in the next few years. There’s quite a slate of megastars likely set for enshrinement, after all. The hall will be ready, announcing a more than $3 million renovation at the historic site that will double the amount of exhibit capacity within the hall of fame.

“This is an opportunity for us to grow the sport and the hall of fame on many levels,” Patrick McEnroe, ITHF president, tells me. “The confluence with all-time legends retiring and it feeling like a boom of tennis at the moment, the interest level seems pretty high.”

The hall’s renovations will require a shutdown, starting in November, that will culminate with a reopening in May 2025. With that comes plenty of fresh approaches to the way the hall shows off how it stewards so much history of the game. By partnering with Advent, which will design and construct the new exhibit space, the hall’s landmark change features a new Hall of Famers’ Gallery at the end of the visitor’s experience, complete with each inductee having their own cast racket to help tell their story.

The new Hall of Famers’ Gallery, with the gold cast rackets, provides a symbol that comes synonymous with the hall. “When you think about the sport of tennis, you have the ball, net and racket, and only one is in your hand,” says Reese Stevens, Advent director of conceptual design. “Being able to encapsulate the brand, being able to encapsulate the fundamentals of the sports was a really important task.”

A new Celebration Gallery will take visitors through the sport of tennis and the stories of its legends. A new Newport Tennis Traditions gallery will celebrate Newport’s place in tennis history and give a prominent location to the home of the perpetual U.S. Open trophies housed at the hall. A new Hall of Famers’ Lounge will provide event space, while a new Welcome Center and visitor exit help with guest flow. A new museum retail footprint will cap off the visitor experience. Roger Federer, certain to be inducted into the hall in the coming years, will also refresh the Roger Federer Hologram exhibit with a new immersive experience.

From Federer to a host of updates, Advent expects the new space to celebrate the history of the building, but in a modern way that resonates with multiple generations and provides flexibility in changing exhibits. “We have thought a lot about the audience journey and the moments we have chosen to touch,” Stevens says. “Visitors new and old will have something fresh. They will also have something they know and love. There is connective tissue to the modernization.”

Stevens says that digital capabilities creates both accessibility and flexibility. New ideas coming in 2025 include an augmented reality sculpture made of tennis balls to tell the stories of inductees and the people who inspired them on their journey. Other new digital displays can link to places around the world that will help draw visitors from across the globe unable to make it to Newport. Dan Faber, ITHF CEO, says even with that connection, the goal is to get people to the site, and he believes they should soon at least double the number of visitors “here to experience this incredible history.”

The hall also plans to announce in July a new tournament opportunity that will start in 2025, another way to draw in fresh visitors.

McEnroe says that the idea of a hall of fame is an American phenomenon, which can make it hard for others to understand what it all entails. “I think our job is to sort of get that message out and as the international players come here and become hall of famers, [non-Americans] will get a whole new view of it,” he says.

Part of that effort involves some of the biggest names in the sport supporting the hall, which is already happening. McEnroe says that both Federer and Serena Williams have shown an interest. “They have a great respect for the history of the game,” he says. “We find that when we do events in other places, the hall of famers love to be a part of it. This is the ultimate honor in tennis.”