The Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum isn't used to controversy. However, the latest exhibit "Powerful Posters" is drawing some powerful outrage.
Opened in 2006 by the H.R.H. the Duke of Kent, the new Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum uses modern technology to celebrate the history of Wimbledon and of the game. Located on the grounds of All England Tennis Lawn Club it is open to the public, except during Championships week when it is only open to ticket holders.
Some of its memorabilia dates back to 1555 while interactive touch screens take you through the history of tennis and of Wimbledon. The CentreCourt360 viewing platform lets visitors experience the atmosphere of the Centre Court (except during Championships). In another exhibit, a virtual John McEnroe takes visitors through (normally) off-limits areas while talking about how he prepares for matches and giving you the inside scoop about first meeting Jimmy Connors. You can experience the 1980s Gentleman's Dressing Room as well as a collection of past and present Wimbledon Whites, including an interactive part where you can feel the difference in weight of men's and women's clothing from 1884. The museum theatre features a 3D screen with films that change periodically. On display are memorabilia from championships starting in 1877 and going up to today, featuring equipment, clothing and more. There is also a Championship Trophies display and a Museum Gallery.
However it is their newest exhibit, Powerful Posters: Tennis and Advertising, 1893-2015 that is getting a lot of press. In the poster advertising the exhibit, the museum chose to feature "Tennis Girl." The image first appeared in a 1977 calendar and then a poster, which sold over 2 million copies worldwide. The woman in the original photo, 18-year-old Fiona Butler, was not a tennis player and, in fact, borrowed both the white dress and the tennis racquet from a friend (Carol Knotts who actually made the dress herself). Twitter went crazy with many people arguing it was sexist due to the raciness of it and the fact that the model was not even a tennis player, with others claiming it was iconic and a part of history. Many fans were surprised that Wimbledon would choose that image to represent their newest exhibit while others thought the choice was sound since it was such a popular poster and representative of its time. Wimbledon officials removed the offending image and apologized profusely. No matter how you feel about the image in question, it has started people around the world talking and placed tennis back in the cultural spotlight -- something pretty apropos for a poster from 1977.
Powerful Posters opens March 20, 2015.