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A Brief Guide To The History Of Tennis At Wimbledon

Mar 12, 2008
In the world of tennis there is no older or greater tournament than The Championships at Wimbledon. Held annually between late June and July, Wimbledon fortnight is hosted by the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, and is one of the four great Grand Slam tournaments in world tennis.


The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club began The Championships in 1877, on an obscure court on the outskirts of Wimbledon in London. The only event played at the time was the Gentlemen's Singles, with the Ladies' Singles and Gentlemen's Doubles events not following until 1884. Ladies' and Mixed Doubles events weren't played until 1913.

The All England Club later purchased land elsewhere in Wimbledon, and moved there in 1922, which is where it remains today. The complex is far different from the one-court club it was back then, and is a sprawling maze of courts and facilities for spectators and fans of the sport.

The Courts

There are nineteen courts in use at Wimbledon; two main show courts (Centre Court and No. 1 Court), which are only in use for The Championships, and seventeen standard courts, which are used throughout the year. Wimbledon remains the only Grand Slam event still played on grass.

The show courts have been re-developed significantly over the years. Centre Court is in line for more building work in 2009, when a retractable roof is planned in time for the 2012 Olympics. It has a capacity of almost 14,000, whereas the No. 1 Court, which sits adjacent to Centre Court, has a capacity of 11,000.

The Events

There are five main events held at Wimbledon: the Gentlemen's Singles, Ladies' Singles, Gentlemen's Doubles, Ladies' Doubles and the Mixed Doubles. There are also various junior events of the same structure, and invitational events for elder players and disabled groups.

Two Weeks in July

The Championships are played annually during the final week of June into the first week of July. There is usually no play on 'Middle Sunday,' which is considered a rest day unless poor weather forces the date to be taken up with rescheduled matches.

On the rare occasions when this has happened, Wimbledon has staged a 'People's Sunday', with unreserved seating and low priced tickets made available.

Players and Seeding

A total of 128 players are featured in the singles events, with 64 pairs making up the single-sex doubles. 48 pairs play for the Mixed Doubles event.

Players for the main events are premitted to compete depending upon their international rankings, with consideration occasionally given to previous performances at other major events.

The Committee of Management, with the assistance of the Referee, is the official body responsible for evaluating all players' applications to Wimbledon. The committee may also admit a "wild card", a player that has performed well during previous tournaments, or would stimulate public interest in the sport merely by participating.

Official Clothing

The All England Club requires all players to wear white clothing while on court. No other Grand Slam tournament enforces such a stringent dress code, which dates back to when the sport began in the 19th Century.

Traditional Wimbledon colours are made up of dark green and purple, which is worn by umpires, linesmen, lineswomen, ball boys and ball girls. The 2006 Championships saw officials dressed in a new outfit, which consisted of a navy blue and cream coloured uniform designed by Ralph Lauren.

Trophies and Prize Money

The Gentlemen's Singles champion receives a silver gilt cup, a trophy that has been awarded every year since 1887. The Ladies' Singles champion receives a sterling silver salver, decorated with figures from mythology, and more commonly referred to as the Venus Rosewater Dish. The Gentlemen's Doubles, Ladies' Doubles, and Mixed Doubles champions each receive silver cups.

All trophies are normally presented to the winners by the President of the All England Club, and the Duke and Duchess of Kent.

The current pot of prize money for The Championships sits at over 10 million, and up until 2007, more money was available for the winners of Gentlemen's events than the Ladies.


Tennis fans have been known to queue overnight to gain access to the Wimbledon show courts, mainly because Wimbledon remains the only major grand slam event where ticketless fans can still get access to high profile matches. Around 250 tickets per day are made available for each show court during The Championships.
About the Author
This article was written by Colin Galbraith for Viagogo.co.uk, a leading European ticket hub. Viagogo connects buyers and sellers of Wimbledon tickets, tickets, concert tickets and more. Viagogo also guarantees all the transactions.
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