A short article appeared in the Brisbane newspaper ”The Daily Mail” in March 1924.

tennis electric 11 mar 1924

Daily Mail, 11 March 1924. (TROVE)

Tennis was introduced to Australia in the 1870s and the Queensland Lawn Tennis Association was formed in 1888. Initially, most courts were located in the grounds of larger houses, but public courts were soon marked out in parks and gardens.

Tennis Botanical gardens 1896

A tennis court in the City Botanical Gardens, 1896.              (State Library of Queensland)

In Musgrave Park, for example, the South Brisbane Tennis Club was founded in 1886. The number of courts in the park gradually increased to 11 in the 1920s(see my post Musgrave Park – The Early Days ).

tennis musgrave talyor fryer 1913

A game of tennis in Musgrave Park ca 1913. In the background is the bandstand. This court was located near today’s swimming pool. (Taylor collection, Fryer Library, UQ)

As courts lacked surrounding netting and as a consequence, the game was played in a leisurely manner, tennis was one of the few sports deemed socially acceptable for ladies and in which men and women could participate jointly.

poulsen house tennis 1910 slq

A game of tennis in the grounds of Poul Poulsen’s home on Gladstone Road ca 1910. (State Library of Queensland)

With the introduction of State and National competition, the quality of Australian players steadily improved and Norm Brookes became the first Australian to win the Wimbledon Singles titles in 1907. Daphne Akhurst was the first Australian woman to make the finals of Wimbledon in 1928.

Queensland Ladies Interstate Tennis Team 1908

Queensland Ladies Interstate Tennis Team 1908 – State Library of Queensland

The popularity of the game continued. During the 1920s depression years, my grandfather built a court behind his house at Annerley as a money-making venture . He told me that the popularity of tennis was such that right through those years his court was always fully booked with players paying sixpence each per booking.

Game of tennis Annerley Brisbane

A game of tennis at my grandparent’s house Annerley, 1940s

With advances in electric lighting technology early in the 20th century,  lighting of tennis courts became practical allowing the game to be played in the cool of the evening and on weekdays after work. Suburban reticulation of electricity was gradually extended through the 1920s. I remember my sister and I going along with my parents one night a week for tennis in the 1960s. This was also an occasion for kids to have fun in semi-lit suburban backyards.

As there was no specific uniform for tennis, there was some freedom in the style of dress. By the time of this article, costumes worn by tennis players were starting to become a little more practical than those in earlier images above.

Tennis group Brisbane 1925

A tennis group in Brisbane, 1925

Alice Marble from the USA, winner of  18 grand slam championships, broke with all previous conventions by wearing shorts in 1932.

The location of the night tournament mentioned in the article as “Tarong Flats” refers to the large house in Blakeney Street of that name, at that time divided into flats. Further detail of this house can be found in a previous post –  A Strawberry Afternoon Tea Highgate Hill 1905.

Doctor A. Jeffris Turner, a long time resident of Highgate Hill, was closely linked to the Children’s Hospital which was to receive the profits of the tournament. You can read more about his interesting life in another post in this blog, Doctor A. Jefferis Turner – “Gentle Annie”.

Further Reading – Tennis – popular and international 1900s–1950s




2 thoughts on “Tennis

  1. Pingback: The Telephone Becomes Automatic | Highgate Hill and Its History

  2. Pingback: Musgrave Park – The Early Days | Highgate Hill and Its History

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