Elvis Presley and Racquetball

Elvis Presley worked hard, but when he was ready to relax, he had a plethora of hobbies and pastimes to keep him busy.

He loved everything from rollerskating to rollercoasters, from karate to football. He enjoyed going to local carnivals and fairs, and he loved watching movies.

In the 1970s, he became interested in a sport that was new to him: racquetball.

Elvis kicked off 1973 with his iconic "Aloha from Hawaii" special. Later that same year, he would become a fan of racquetball.

Elvis kicked off 1973 with his iconic “Aloha from Hawaii” special. Later that same year, he would become a fan of racquetball.

Racquetball started in the 1950s and became popular by 1969. It’s very similar to both handball and squash. Elvis played his first game in November 1973, and he enjoyed it so much that he started playing at the local Y and at Memphis State.

When Elvis was relaxing at home in Memphis, his two favorite things to do were to go to the movies and play a few games of racquetball. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll lived a true rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, so he often stayed up late, watching movies or playing racquetball until the early morning hours.

Here's Elvis' racquetball racquet.

Here’s Elvis’ racquetball equipment.

In the summer of 1975, Elvis decided to bring his racquetball hobby closer to home. He began planning to build a racquetball court at Graceland, and construction of the building began in September 1975.

Elvis' Racquetball Building at Graceland is part of the tour.

Elvis’ Racquetball Building at Graceland is part of the tour.

For decades, fans have toured Graceland, including the Racquetball Building. The front half of the building looks like a swanky lobby of a racquetball court, complete with a pinball machine, exercise equipment and a piano.

The second half of the building was the court, but for many years, the court was an additional trophy hall, filled from floor to ceiling with Elvis’ posthumous awards. The exhibit space also included a few of Elvis’ jumpsuits, which were regularly rotated out to allow the jumpsuits to “rest” in between displays.

If you've toured Graceland, chances are this is how you've seen the court area of Elvis' Racquetball Building.

If you’ve toured Graceland, chances are this is how you’ve seen the court area of Elvis’ Racquetball Building.

But we’re shaking things up at Graceland – in a good way!

We’re only about a week away from opening up our new entertainment complex, Elvis Presley’s Memphis. The new complex will feature new exhibits and museums, including Elvis The Entertainer Career Museum, the largest and most comprehensive Elvis museum in the world. It will include many of the awards you may have already seen in the Racquetball Building’s trophy room, or in the Trophy Building’s Hall of Gold. The museum will feature artifacts from all aspects of Elvis’ career, from his albums to concerts to movies.

What does that mean for the Racquetball Building? That means it is the way it was in 1977. Our Archives Team has been working these last several weeks to restore the walls and the court to just the way they were. These preservation efforts ensure that Graceland and the surrounding buildings will be well-kept for generations to come.

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This is what the Racquetball Court looks like now – just the way Elvis would’ve used it in the 1970s.

The Trophy Building, home to the famous Hall of Gold, has undergone a few changes, too. The building now tells the story of the Presley family – including a family tree. Artifacts now in this building include Elvis’ keys to Graceland, rarely-seen family photos, the family Bible and Gladys’ clothing. Elvis and Priscilla’s wedding tux and dress are on display, alongside Lisa’s crib and a few toys. A few items from Graceland’s “red period” are included, too, so you can get an idea for how the mansion looked when many of the furnishings were a lush red hue.

Back to Elvis Presley’s Memphis: the complex will also house “Discovery Exhibits,” which will further tell the story of Elvis’s life and legacy.

We can’t wait to share these changes with you. Be sure to join us for the grand opening weekend of Elvis Presley’s Memphis on March 2-5. See you at the king’s castle! 


43 Comments

  1. Bout time, its back to the way Elvis left it. Happy to see it finally happen.

  2. I love that room, its my favorite room in the tour!!

  3. Janet Davies

    Elvis was never lazy, I wish he had chilled out more

  4. Gary canton

    It’s Great to see the racquetball building being returned to the way it was when Elvis last saw it.

  5. Allman of Tempe

    All the new things at Graceland make me want to come back for another visit. It always a special time and place to visit!

  6. Billy F. Martin

    I continue to appreciate your attention to detail and it has necessitated another trip by me to Graceland to see these current improvements.Thanks again.
    Regards
    Billy

  7. Chris Roberts

    I first visited Graceland (grounds only)in August 1972 and last visited October 2015. It is great to see the racquetball court being restored to how it was in 1977 and all the other fantastic things you are doing for his legacy. I had thought that my last visit would be the last, however, I now feel that I must return once again to see all these new exhibitions etc. that have been created. Well done to all involved.

  8. Ron Spain

    Glad your getting Graceland back to how it was when he lived there. Separate building with everything else is great.

  9. matthew e. goodrich

    RED SOFAS ETC. SLINGERLAND DRUM CORP IN 1973 INTRODUCED A 3D
    TYPE” FIRE RED” WRAP FOR THEIR NEW LINE.
    DID HE ( ELVIS) “CHANNEL IT” OR JUST LUV IT ?

  10. Shirley Cameron

    This is so exciting. Can’t make it in March but already have reservations for May. I am truly happy about all that is happening at Graceland in honor of the most talented and charismatic entertainer that has blessed so many lives. Thanks for all you do.

  11. Grace Kanomata

    Wow, what a difference since April 2016, when my husband and I were there touring. Hope to see the new Entertainment Complex when we comeback at the end of March 2017.
    Thank you all for keeping Elvis’ memory and artifacts available for all of us to see.
    Thank you and Mahalo,
    Grace

  12. judi Tabor

    I’m so excited that the raquetball court is back to being the racquetball court! When I visited in 2013 it was filled with all the jumpsuits and trophies and was wonderful but I think it is significantly better to leave it like Elvis left it. I can hardly wait to get there again and see the new facilities! Judi Tabor

  13. Can’t wait to be back in Memphis again

  14. Margaret Mary Coley

    What a transformation from my last visit to Graceland. Can’t wait to see it and the new complex.

  15. Hidee Marotz

    We’re planning our trip to visit the new Hotel & the new EP Memphis complex in September! We are celebrating our 40th Anniversary along w/Elvis’ 40th. We’ve bee there several times before but this time will be a BRAND NEW experience & we are very excited. See you soon. TCB|TLC.

  16. Richard Girard

    Can’t wait to see the new complex and visit Graceland for our 4th time only this time with our grandkids.

  17. Richard Girard

    Thank You, Thank you very much!

  18. Deb Neilson

    Can’t wait to see the changes! As a lifelong fan, I say the more ‘authentic’ Elvis items…and decor of how it was when he lived there is valued more than new fancy dancy restaurants, shops etc. We want to be a part of the real Elvis, the entertainer yes, but mostly just the man and his life, loves and family.

  19. John Montgomery

    Thank you for helping Elvis alive so new fans can understand what HE is all about and his music, the older fans like myself are very happy for the new items and buildings
    May his music live on forever

  20. I love the idea that things are back to the way there were when Elvis lived there. We get to see the more personal side of him.
    I can’t wait to make a trip back to Memphis to see all the changes and to see the new Elvis Presley’s “Memphis”. I am sure it will be spectacular !!!

  21. Phyllis Guffey

    Where will the gold records be?

  22. lorraine sellclos

    Beautiful buildings, hope to visit soon.

  23. Paralyzed

    Fantastic news! Good job guys. Any reversals to make Graceland as original as possible are thrilling for me.

    I’ve also always loved the racquetball building and would love to see as much of it as possible. I realize his upstairs bedroom is private but a little more of this building would be exciting.

  24. The raquetball court looks great now! However, the main trophy room should never have been changed from the way it was in 1977. I was very disappointed to see that the original gold records Elvis had displayed in the “hall of gold” are gone. Graceland should be kept as the Graceland Elvis loved. Fans want to see the personal Elvis belongings not contracts, signatures and telegrams. The hallway needs to be reinstated and his personal jewelry etc back where it belongs in the beloved home of Graceland.

  25. Karen Gillaspie

    Thank you for all the information sent out.

  26. Karen Phillips

    I am glad that the Racquetball Court has been restored to the way it was when Elvis was alive, and also to know that other things have been changed back, and like the red hue, it can
    be seen once again.

  27. Nancy Salo

    I was to Graceland one time and have always wanted to go back. Maybe one day I will be able to. Elvis will always be Special to me..
    Wish I could have went to one of his concerts, in Madison, but it wasn’t to be. I would have loved to see and meet him in person..

  28. Patricia Conbeer

    Dear Elvis’s Memphis…Just wanted to wish you all the very best for the grand opening. I was last at Graceland in September 2014 with my aunt….we fullfilled a life long dream as we have both loved Elvis forever(sadly my aunt passed away in 2015)but hopefully one day I will be able to return to see Elvis’s Graceland in all its splendour and the happy memories of of my aunt. Tcb…..Tricia xx

  29. can’t wait to see it all

  30. I have visited Graceland twice from the UK since 2011, I am coming again this year, cannot wait to see the changes. Thank you x

  31. Carole Brocher

    Love the updated changes. My pictures and videos will remind me of how things were.

  32. Patty Greene

    I have played Racquetball for about 16+years and LOVE the sport. Elvis would be sad to see all the courts being taken away for spin classes and weight rooms now.

  33. Jean ogburn

    Iv been twice to Graceland loved both times.I would love to be there again so my only wish if it’s my only would be to see again

  34. Jean ogburn

    I’m so crazy about the man and GRACELAND

  35. Denise Helton

    Hi, Long time Elvis fan I think the first time I was at Graceland was shortly after it opened and have been back often, as recent as November 2016. I am so glad to see the racquetball room/bldg. is going back to its original state. I think it is so important to keep it as it was. There are so many cool things at Graceland to take in and look at. I think I will be coming back and take the tour twice as slow to soak up all the little things most people don’t notice. Again, I think it is great that things are going back to how they were. Look forward to seeing it all.

  36. I will be there is August with my family, I can’t wait!!

  37. I remember the racquetball ball court in its original state when the mansion first opened in 1982. After all of the awards that he was awarded since then, I was always anxious to get to the racquetball court on the tour and see all of the awards that were displayed. It always brought a year to my eyes and made my heart swell with pride for him. I always had a proud feeling seeing all of that, it still amazes me. The next time I go will be my 30th trip to Graceland. I can’t wait and I will love it as much as my other 29 trips.

  38. Was just there last week !!!! Loved every minute of it !!!!!!

  39. My two girls and I will be in Memphis for Elvis Week 2017! We are super excited and can’t wait!!

  40. Dolores J Melton

    I was at Graceland in Sept 1982 for 2 weeks it was fantastic I could sense ELVIS’ presence the entire time I was there. I want to come back and see all the new beautiful additions. I watch everything on my computer thanks to my Insiders Membership.I know ELVIS is looking down and smiling happily to all his additions and beautiful changes and saying Thank You Thank You Very Much.I also am very pleased to know you are restoring the racquetball room to it’s original look ELVIS would be grateful also. Long live ELVIS THE KING OF R&R and KING OF THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD.!!!!! LOVE ALWAYS

  41. James Warner

    The Graceland staff has ALWAYS done a spectacular job in maintaining Elvis’ wonderful estate. I have been to Graceland four times and loved every minute of it. Plan on bringing my kid there next year. I am happy to see Elvis’ racquetball building restored back to its original condition. Since we cannot go upstairs in the mansion itself, it would be great to be able to go upstairs in this building, however. A set of exit stairs could be erected at the top exterior of the building. It wouldn’t even have to be attached to the structure. Heck, I’d pay an extra $20 to see the upstairs. I hope the Graceland staff reads this and at least passes it on to Priscilla and Lisa Marie.

  42. Louise Everall

    I am absolutely delighted that the racquetball court has been restored. I first visited Graceland in June 1982 the month it opened to the public and they took us to the racquetball court and projected a never before seen movie on the walls. I sat on the wooden floor in tears looking at all the ball marks around the court knowing that he had made them. I don’t suppose they will still be there but nevertheless happy it’s been restored. I was disappointed on my second visit that the original court was gone.

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