When people talk about international tennis tournaments, people most commonly think of Wimbledon first. That is because it is one of four Grand Slam international tennis events held yearly, of which the U.S Open, the French Open, and the Australian Open are the other three. In addition, it is a world-class event that lures professional players and avid fans from all over the world.
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The First Wimbledon Championship
Wimbledon was held for the first time in 1877, with the only event being the men’s singles. Spencer Gore took the first Wimbledon title with 200 spectators watching the finals. These spectators had to pay one shilling for the privilege of watching the first Wimbledon final, not knowing, of course, what a massive tournament it would later become. A few years later, in 1884, Wimbledon introduced its first ladies tournament, with Maud Watson victorious. Many years later, in 1913, women’s doubles and mixed doubles were included in the tournament.
Cancellations of Wimbledon
The championship has been skipped on three occasions, and this was because of World War 1 and World War 2. Unfortunately, the third cancellation was because of the COVID19 pandemic. During World War 1 Wimbledon was canceled between the years 1915 and 1918. Then, during World War 2, the tournament was canceled from 1940 to 1945. Finally, Wimbledon was canceled in 2020 because of the horrific CoronaVirus Pandemic. However, Wimbledon wasn’t the only event that was canceled in 2020. The pandemic has been so disastrous that even the summer Olympics had to be canceled.
Wimbledon is known for lush green courts. The tournament switched to pure ryegrass in 2001. Before that, a mix of Creeping Red Fescue and ryegrass was used with a make-up of 30/70. The reason for switching to 100% ryegrass was that it is much more durable and can withstand the challenges of fast-paced games. The club has 19 courts, with Center Court and No. 1 Court only used during the tournament, with the other 17 courts used throughout the year for smaller events and contests. However, Center Court and No. 1 Court were used during the Olympic Games in 2012. They are also occasionally used for Davis Cup events.
Today Wimbledon is unique as it is the only Grand Slam event still using grass courts. The U.S Open and the Australian Open have both switched to hard courts, whereas the French Open has always used Terre battue.
Venue changes over the years
When Wimbledon started in 1877, it was held on the club grounds that were four acres in size. The club was positioned between the railway line and Worple Road. It was used for the location of Wimbledon until 1921. Then in 1908, the grounds were used as a hosting venue for the Summer Olympic Games. The club moved in 1922, with the new platform being on Church Road. This was when Centre Court was introduced to the tournament for the first time. As the public had started noticing the tournament and the number of attendees grew, the bigger space that Centre Court provided seemed to be a proper fit.
Since Wimbledon is experiencing plentiful rainfall, a much-needed retractable roof was designed and built in 2009, with completion in time for the tournament. The retractable roof can open and close within 20 minutes, although it is mainly closed to keep the grounds safe against heat and sun damage. Games are always suspended while the roof is opened or closed. The first time the roof had to be closed during a match was on the 29th of June, 2009, when Safina and Mauresmo played their first game on the renovated court. Later that day, the renovated court and improved roof would host its first full game with Murray and Wawrinka playing. The court can comfortably host up to 15,000 spectators, and it also includes the Royal Box, which is the area from where the Royal Family can enjoy the games. Although Centre Court is mostly used for the semi-finals and final events, it isn’t unusual for early rounds to be played there if the matches feature favorites or top-seeded players. No. 1 Court is the second most important court in Wimbledon, next to Centre Court. The original No. 1 Court had to be demolished and reconstructed in 1997 because it couldn’t accommodate the growing spectators. Many players spoke up about their disapproval, stating that No. 1 Court, although small in size, had a great intimate atmosphere, and therefore, it was a favorite amongst most players. In 2017, construction of No. 1 Court’s retractable roof started, and players enjoyed the renovated court for the first time in 2019. Because of its improved design, the number of attendees rose from 900 to more than 12,000. In addition to an enhanced No. 1 Court, a new No. 2 Court was introduced in 2009. It can comfortably host up to 4,000 spectators. Since then, the original No. 2 Court has been named No. 3 Court, with the ability to host up to 2,192 seated spectators and 770 standing tennis fans.
Interesting facts about Wimbledon
Amateurs initially played the tournament, and professional players were welcomed in 1968, with Australian player Rod Laver, and American player, Billie Jean King taking the titles that year. French player Suzanne Lenglen became the first player to win three Wimbledon titles in 1920 when she took the titles for the women’s singles, doubles, and mixed doubles. American player Don Budge won three titles in one year in 1937.
Prize money of Wimbledon
Money was first given as prizes in the year that professional players joined the tournament in 1968. The total cash received was £26,150, with the men’s single title earning £2,000 and the single women champion receiving £750. But, of course, the prize money has increased impressively over the years, and today it is seen as one of the best paying sports events held globally.
The Most Memorable Moments of Wimbledon
The 1980 men’s final
Borg and McEnroe faced each other in this fascinating match that would become one of the most controversial and memorable matches in the history of Wimbledon. McEnroe was aggressive and received warnings as usual as the game progressed, but Borg kept his cool and took the title.
The youngest player to win the title
Seventeen-year-old Boris Becker became the youngest player to win the Wimbledon title in 1985.
Sampras’ reign over tennis
In 2000, Pete Sampras was a force to be reckoned with as he took his seventh title.
Goran Ivanisevic had been the runner-up in the final three times, but the determined player refused to give up, and finally, in 2001, he got his title. It was a memorable moment in tennis that would become known as the People’s Final since he had the whole world in tears.
The 2013 British win
British players had a tough time winning the title. Finally, in 2013, Andy Murray managed to win the title, and it was the first victory of a British player in 77 years after Fred Perry won in 1936.
What Makes Wimbledon Unique?
Each of the four Grand Slam championships has elements that make them stand out, and Wimbledon is no exception. Here are the things that make Wimbledon different from the rest:
Its formality and presence of British elegance.
Wimbledon is a classy event with a strict dress code that states that every tournament player should wear outfits that are either all-white or close to it. Therefore, players are prohibited from wearing flashy and overly colorful clothing.
It is a paradise for those who enjoy betting on tennis outcomes.
Wimbledon can be a very lucrative event if you are interested in betting on tennis. However, it is essential that you only work through a respected and proper bookkeeper.
It is a polite event with a touch of old-school mannerisms.
Wimbledon doesn’t refer to the titles as women’s and men’s singles, but rather it is called the gentlemen’s and ladies titles. In addition, spectators have the option of taking a bow in front of the Royal Box to show respect to the Royal family.
Strawberries and cream are the treats of Wimbledon.
If you enjoy strawberries and cream, you will be delighted to know that it is the official snack of the tournament, with about 34,000 kg of strawberries being consumed along with at least 10,000 liters of cream.
The most unusual employee
Rufus, the hawk, helps keep annoying pigeons at bay by flying around the courts every day.
Members of the Royal Family attend it.
Since the Duke of Kent is the Wimbledon All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club president, it is not a surprise that he frequently attends the event. In addition, the Queen of England attended Wimbledon in 2010.
When we think of London, Wimbledon usually pops into our minds because it is a remarkable Grand Slam that spoils us by showcasing the best that the world of tennis offers.