Melbourne Forum gives you access to the highest level of expertise and real-world lessons that our conversation leaders – all with a reputation for excellence – bring to the table under the Chatham House rule.

We are committed to providing a platform for, and the increased visibility of, diverse voices.

With varied formats (in-person or virtual; conversation leader or members engaging with each other; learning from experts or exploring viewpoints) there are multiple ways to participate.

Explore our upcoming program of events and forums.

Loading Events

« All Events


October 11, 2023
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Category:


Royal Melbourne Tennis Club
18 Sherwood Street
Richmond, Victoria 3121
+ Google Map
  • This event has passed.

An Insight To Real (Royal) Tennis At The Royal Melbourne Tennis Club

Open Door series

Hosted by:
Allan Willingham

October 11, 2023 @ 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm


A special treat for social history buffs and sporting enthusiasts alike – an insight to real (Royal) tennis at the Royal Melbourne Tennis Club. 

Melbourne Forum member Allan Willingham will host this event. He has long played real tennis, has represented Australia in many International Masters events, and once boasted a World Masters Doubles title with E. W. (Ted) Cockram. Allan has just completed a PhD dissertation on the architectural history of the tennis court and is keen to spread the word.

After a welcome and introduction to the Royal Melbourne Tennis Club, a demonstration of the game of real tennis will be presented by two Club professionals and Allan will explain the 600-year history of tennis in the comfort of the Club’s meeting room/archives.

The term ‘tennis’ relates to the original ball and racket game, which has its origins in Medieval Europe, and not the current game, which has its origins in England in the later XIXth century and is properly referred to as ‘lawn tennis’.  In the XVth and XVIth centuries, during the Early Italian Renaissance in Italy as well as in Medieval France, members of both the Italian and French aristocracies engaged leading architects to design enclosed tennis courts in which the near identical racket games of pallacorda and jeu de paume evolved.

Only two royal tennis courts were built in Australia in the 19th century, in Hobart in 1874-1875, and in Melbourne in 1881-1882.  The Melbourne Tennis Club was founded in 1881 and the ancient game of tennis (later royal then real tennis) was first played in our city in May 1882, on a traditionally planned tennis court built in Exhibition Street, Melbourne. In 1974, the Royal Melbourne Tennis Club  moved to a new home in Richmond. RMTC has two of only fifty tennis courts in use worldwide.

A dinner booking at a café or restaurant in Richmond or East Melbourne (venue tba) will be made for anyone interested in staying on for more conversation and a casual meal (at own cost).

Please to book tickets