Wimbledon History

The Wimbledon tennis tournament is one of the oldest sporting events in the world. This tournament is formally called: The Championships, Wimbledon. This tournament that was first played in the year 1887 gets its name from the place where it was first played, The All England Club which is located in the suburbs of London in a place called Wimbledon. It has been played in the same place ever since. Wimbledon is one of the four major Grand Slam tennis tournaments with the other 3 being the U.S Open, Australian Open and French Open tennis tournaments. While the latter three are played on hard or clay courts, the Wimbledon Championship is the only Grand Slam event that is still being played on a traditional grass court.

The Wimbledon tennis tournament starts towards the end of June and is spread over two weeks, ending in early July. This tournament is the third Grand Slam event that is played each year. The Australian Open and the French Open which are played on hard court and clay court respectively are conducted in January and May. This championship is followed by the fourth and final Grand Slam tournament, the US Open, which is again a hard court game, held between August and September each year.

The Wimbledon tournament is held in The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. The private club which was founded in the year 1868 was initially known only as The All England Croquet club. It was renamed to The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in the year 1877, two years after the addition of lawn tennis in 1875 to the list of club activities. In order to herald this change of name to the world, this club conducted the very first Lawn Tennis Championship which since then has come to be known as the Wimbledon Championship. A set of rules and regulations were drawn up for the game and the first game was played in a ground situated off Worple Road in Wimbledon.

The laws that were drawn up for the first game have remained relatively unchanged through the years. Only a few changes like the height of the net and the posts were made, in addition to the change in the distance of the line of service from the net.

The first championship tournament consisted of just one event: Gentlemen’s singles. The first winner in the history of this tournament was Spencer Gore. The tickets to watch this first ever event was priced at just 1 shilling and 200 people bought them in order to watch the finals. The principle court is also called the “Center Court” because this was the center portion of the ground, when the first tournament was played, with other smaller courts surrounding it. Today, though the title remains, it is not related to the placement of the court.

The Ladies Singles event and the Gentlemen’s doubles event were added to this championship in the year 1884. It was only 36 years later, in the year 1913, the Ladies Doubles event and Mixed Doubles event were added. Until the year 1922, the defender of the title had to only play the final round in order to defeat the challenger who had played through the tournament for the Wimbledon cup.

Before 1922, the winners of the previous year’s title were given byes and had to play only the final match. Hence, a lot of them were able to win consecutive titles because these players rested all through the tournament and played only that last match against the person who had defeated all the other opponents. This was followed for all events except the Ladies Doubles and Mixed Doubles. From 1922, the concept of byes was eliminated for all the events and the winners had to play all the matches and defeat their opponents in order to reach the finals.

Ironically, though this event is hosted with great pride in Britain, the last time a British man or woman won this trophy was in 1936 (men’s singles) and 1977 (women’s singles) respectively. Since then, no English player has been able to win this title.

Through the years, there have been hardly any changes made to this tournament. There have only been changes made to improve the facilities for the audience, players and other members of the club. Many new building were built in addition to extra grass courts and extensive facilities for the players, press officials and the members of the club. The Millennium building today hosts an entrance building, museum, and bank and ticket office.