History of Wimbledon Tennis
Wimbledon is well acknowledged as the premier tennis tournament in the world.
The priority of The All England Lawn Tennis Club in London England, which hosts The Championships, is to maintain its leadership into the Twenty-first Century. To that end, a “Long-term Plan” was unveiled in 1993 which will improve the quality of the event for spectators, players, officials and neighbors.
Indeed, Wimbledon is more than the British monarchy presiding over rain, strawberries and cream. It is the oldest event in professional tennis played on a one of a kind surface, grass, and is one of the four premier “Grand Slam” events in “Open” competition.
Although to many, fans and players a like, no event in Tennis compares to the rich history and contribution to the sport that is Wimbledon.
The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, which is responsible for staging the world’s leading tennis tournament, is a private club founded in 1868 as The All England Croquet Club. Its first ground was situated off Worple Road, Wimbledon.
By 1875, eager to boost membership, the club introduced a lawn tennis court that had become immensely popular at the time. And even though the sport was played for years before, tennis was patented by Major Walter Clopton Wingfield who at the time named the sport “sphairistike”.
In 1884 the Ladies’ Singles was inaugurated, and from a field of 13 players Maud Watson became the champion. That same year, the Gentlemen’s Doubles was started. The trophy had been donated to the Club by the Oxford University Lawn Tennis Club upon cessation of their doubles championship, played from 1879 to 1883.
In 1922, the Club was renamed to reflect its prestige in the tennis world. And so the All England Lawn Tennis Club was born. It was moved to its present day Church Road site to accommodate a 14,000-seat stadium and within the decade surpassed 200,000-person attendance despite being at the height of a worldwide depression.
The lawns at the ground were arranged in such a way that the principal court was situated in the middle with the others arranged around it, hence the title ‘Centre Court’, which was retained when the Club moved in 1922 to its present site in Church Road.
By 1882, activity at the Club was almost exclusively confined to lawn tennis and that year the word croquet was dropped from the title. However, for sentimental reasons, it was restored in 1899 and since then the title has remained The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.
As the popularity of Wimbledon increased, the facilities for spectators were suitably improved as permanent stands gradually took the place of temporary accommodation.
Wooden racquets were last used at Wimbledon in 1987 when the new, more powerful graphite racquets replaced them.
The British are quite serious about consuming strawberries. In fact Twenty-four tons of Kent strawberries are ordered every year for the Championships at Wimbledon.