Camden Riviere Serving


Hidden at the back of the International Tennis Hall of Fame located at the Newport Casino (194 Bellevue Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island) is one of the rare existing examples of an eight-hundred-year-old sport called Real Tennis, which is the ancestor to all other racquet sports. Unlike lawn tennis, which was invented Major Walter Clopton Wingdale in 1874, just six years before the Newport Casino was built, Real Tennis is believed to have been invented sometime in the 13th century in France and was played by the aristocracy of England and France for hundreds of years. Prince Edward of England is an active and capable player to this day.

Chris Chapman Backhand

Each year the top Real Tennis players from around the globe descend upon Newport to play in the US Pro Singles, which is scheduled to be played from June 12-17, 2023. This year nine of the top ten players in the world are playing in the main draw, including the current world champion American, Camden Riviere. Admission to the matches through Thursday is free of charge with paid entrance to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Chris Chapman Forehand

Unlike lawn tennis, where the ball is played off a single surface, in Real Tennis the play occurs inside a large, enclosed room where the ball can be played off 26 flat and angled planes. An excellent description of the game is “1/3 tennis, 1/3 chess, and 1/3 pinball” because the ball will careen around the court in what looks like unpredictable ways, adding to the excitement and complexity of the points.

Nick Howell Forehand

To understand how this court came to exist it is important to remember that in 1880, when the Newport Casino was designed by McKim Mead & White and built for James Gordon Bennett, the game of lawn tennis was very young and so a Real Tennis Court was also built as that was the far more established sport at that time. Since most of the 53 extant Real Tennis courts are located at European palaces or private clubs, Newport is one of the only places in the world for members of the public to experience this ancient sport and there is no better time to see the sport played than during the US Pro Singles Tournament.

The court is located at the eastern end of the Newport Casino complex to the south of the Casino Theatre building. To find out more about the game and when the upcoming matches are scheduled to be played visit the US Pro Singles tournament site at or call the club directly at 401.849.6672. The ball, which is like a felt covered baseball, will fly around at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour so do not miss this rare opportunity to see the fastest, coolest, eight-hundred-year-old sport you never knew existed, played at the very highest of levels at the oldest Real Tennis court in the United States!


Ross Cann, RA, AIA, LEED AP, is an author, historian, and practicing architect living and working in Newport, RI. He holds degrees with honor in Architecture from Yale, Cambridge, and Columbia Universities. He is a past president of the National Tennis Club and a devoted Real Tennis player.