Written by Amy Poole : Photographs by George Mark
WHERE WIMBLEDON ALL BEGAN – In 1868, the All England Club established its first appearance outside of London. On 9 June 1877, the Club helped to establish the first ever Wimbledon Championships. The Club published an announcement looking for ‘amateur players, although women weren’t allowed to partake in this initial game, 22 men appeared and paid to enter. Around 200 people watched the first match at Wimbledon.
After a few years of being live, the All England Club agreed to open the Wimbledon Championships to both sexes. The youngest woman to enter was Lottie Dodd from Cheshire who remained unbeatable at the age of 15. Her incredible success proved that women deserved to play in the Wimbledon Championships. It wasn’t until five years later that people started taking a real interest in the sport, thanks to William Renshaw who made several appearances at games.
CONTINUED TO BECOME POPULAR – 1908 was the year of the first grand slam tennis event, Wimbledon hosted the Olympic tennis tournament and in 1922 it became the the official home of the championship. The Championships attracted a large interest in the royal family and in 1926, the Duke of York competed in the men’s doubles. His match presented
him with medals, though, he and his partner unfortunately didn’t make it any further. Wimbledon continued to become even more popular towards 1937, when it was covered on live sports within 40 miles of the BBC transmitters in London.
From 1940-1945, the Wimbledon Championships were put on hold during the second World War. In October 1940, the Court in London was hit by a bomb, though luckily, no-one lost their life. In 1946, Wimbledon opened again for tennis where it continued with its popularity.
In 1980, the Wimbledon Championships made history as there was a match played on Sunday for the first time ever. It was during this year that the longest tie-break at Wimbledon was recorded in a men’s single final between John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg.
Unlike today’s tournament, the first Wimbledon Championships had only one event – being men’s singles. Today, they invoice four junior and four invitation competitions along with five main contests. Now, people of all genders are eligible to play and compete. Players used to use wooden rackets which were basic and handmade, but now we see a range of rockets used, which are of excellent quality.
DID YOU KNOW? – No Wimbledon tournaments were held during 19151918 and 1940-1945 due to the first and second World Wars, despite the game being invented and popular. Let’s talk about where Wimbledon Championships started and how times have changed from the initial launch to today’s games.