You might be aware The Championship, Wimbledon, begins soon (June 27th). The oldest tennis tournament in history and arguably the most prestigious competition of them all. Taking place at the All England Club located in Wimbledon, London, the tournament has been going since 1877.
The Wimbledon Championship is one of the four grand-slam tournaments that take place throughout the year, and is the only one played on grass. The other tournaments are the Australian Open, The French Open, and The US Open. Both the Australian and US Open are played on hard courts, while the French Open is played on clay.
Where It All Began
The All England Lawn Tennis Club was founded in July 1868. A private club, it’s first ground was at Nursery Road off Worple Road, Wimbledon. In 1876, lawn tennis was added to the club’s list of activities, and the club was renamed “The All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club” in spring 1877. The change of name was signalled by instituting the first Lawn Tennis Championship.
The inaugural 1877 Wimbledon Championship began on July 9, 1877, with the Gentlemen’s Singles being the only event held. Today there are Ladies, Mixed, Doubles and Juniors events. It was first won by Spencer Gore, and at the time only 200 spectators watched the final, paying one shilling each to watch.
Much like how it’s laid out today, the courts were arranged so the main court was in the middle, hence the term “centre court”, while the smaller courts were arranged around the outside of it.
It wasn’t until 1884 when the Ladies Singles and Men’s Doubles tournaments began.
Since the beginning of the tournament, Wimbledon has seen a huge amount of changes. These not only include the rules and court changes, but also how the players take part, seed, and compete. In addition to this, more and more courts have been added, with Centre Court Court One and Two being the main stages.
Centre Court underwent an additional change in 2009, with a retractable roof being added. This multi-million pound project, which was planned for years, has now made it possible to play matches when the rain sets in, and therefore causing less disruption to the order of play and schedules.
Often, before the introduction of the roof, matches were put off till the following days due to rain, and thus caused other games to be pushed further back. The tournament aims to complete on the second Sunday, with the Men’s final taking place, however this hasn’t always been the case due to such disruptions.
2010 saw a world record being set, as John Isner and Nicolas Mahut played for 11 hours and 5 minutes, making it the longest match ever. Then, in 2013, Andy Murray became the first British player to win at Wimbledon for 77 years. This year, Novak Djokovic is the reigning men’s champion, and Simona Halep is champion of the women’s tournament.
Facts, Stats, & Figures
Capacity (grounds): 39,000 spectators in the grounds at any one time. Re-selling of used/unwanted tickets for charity creates turnover so the cumulative daily figure can be higher.
Flowers: Over 50,000 plants supplied each year.
Grass: Championships playing height 8mm. Court grass composed of 100% rye grass.
The Hawk: Rufus, a Harris Hawk, trained by Imogen Davis of Avian Control, visits the Club most weeks in the year to provide a deterrent to local pigeons by making them aware of a predator in the grounds to persuade them to roost elsewhere. She flies for one hour (9.00am) most mornings of The Championships before the gates open.
Large Screen TV: The screen is 40sq metres in size and sits in front of the well known “Henman Hill” or “Murray Mound”
Longest Match: 2010, Court 18, played over three days.
Players (2016) inc. qualifying: 757 players
Royal Box: Contains 74 dark green Lloyd Loom wicker chairs. The Queen attended in 1957, 1962, 1977, 2010.
Staff: Around 6,000 staff are taken on for Championships.
Fastest Serve (All Time): Men: 148mph – Taylor Dent – 2010. Women – 129mph – Venus Williams – 2008.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated on 21st June 2022 to reflect current information.