20 June 2019
9 April 2021. Following the death of His Royal Highness, there will be changes to opening hours for the gardens at Hampton Court Palace and Hillsborough Castle. For further information, please read our FAQs page
Back by popular demand, the tournament is set to return to the original Centre Court in 2019
16 – 21 July 2019
Following the huge success of the Real Tennis Champions Trophy since its launch in 2017, the championship will return to Hampton Court Palace this summer, promising another action-packed week. New for this year, the tournament will also be screened live inside the palace, with visitors able to soak up the atmosphere from inside the Undercroft, Henry VIII’s former beer cellar. With the world’s greatest players set to participate, it offers a fantastic opportunity to see this ancient game on the world’s most historic court, a designated National Monument.
Steeped in history, the Royal Tennis Court at Hampton Court Palace has witnessed over 400 years of royal intrigue and sporting action, with King Charles II, King William III and even Prince Albert all mastering the art of Real Tennis within its walls. One of fewer than 50 real tennis courts in the world still in use, the Royal Tennis Court is also one of the few where the public can still watch this fascinating sport. Real Tennis is the predecessor of tennis as we know it – from which modern lawn tennis was derived in about 1874. The game is played over a net on an asymmetric indoor court, where the architecture and court lines differ from service end to the hazard end. To this day, the handmade solid balls are expertly handcrafted at Hampton Court Palace using traditional methods. Play is continuous – without breaks between ‘sets’ – and points are awarded in various ways such as hitting, ‘galleries’, openings, buttresses and bells. This year, visitors will have the opportunity to step onto the Royal Tennis Court itself between matches, to learn more about this legendary game from club professionals.
The sport’s association with Hampton Court Palace goes back to 1526, when Cardinal Wolsey – the man responsible for turning a medieval manor house into the palace we see today – built an open-air court for the amusement of his guests. It was here that King Henry VIII, one of the game’s most famous players, and Hampton Court’s most famous resident, competed against senior courtiers under the bewitching gaze of Anne Boleyn. In fact, Henry loved the game so much that he built another magnificent court closer to his private apartments. The present indoor court was built by King Charles I in 1625, maintaining one of Wolsey’s original walls, with canvas curtains to keep out the rain and nets stretched across the unglazed window openings to keep the balls in. However, it wasn’t until 1700 that nets were installed in the galleries to protect the spectators! With a renewed interest in the sport during the reign of Queen Victoria, both her husband Prince Albert and a young King Edward VII were among the players who flocked to the court during the 19th century. More recently, the club has welcomed HM The Queen as its patron.
Liz Young, Head of Events at Historic Royal Palaces, says: “We’re thrilled that the Real Tennis Champions Trophy will be returning to Hampton Court Palace for a third year, and we hope even more of our visitors enjoy learning about this historic sport. We look forward to welcoming some of the best players from around the world to the iconic Royal Tennis Court at the palace this July for what promises to be an unmissable occasion!”
Qualifying matches kick off on 16 July, resulting in exciting sporting action at every stage. Match day tournament tickets start from £25 and include admission into Hampton Court Palace.
For info and tickets visit: www.hrp.org.uk/realtennis
The 2019 Real Tennis Champions Trophy is proudly supported by Mitsubishi Electric.
For further information and images of the event, please contact Sophie Lemagnen in the Historic Royal Palaces press office: 0203 166 6304 / S[email protected]
Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle and Gardens. We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built. We raise all our own funds and depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers. With the exception of Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, these palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and we manage them for the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Historic Royal Palaces cares for Hillsborough Castle and Gardens under a separate contract with the Northern Ireland Office. Registered charity number 1068852. For more information visit www.hrp.org.uk