The Championships, Wimbledon, or just WImbledon as the whole tennis world knows it as, is the third Grand Slam of the calendar year. Following closely on from the French Open, it is held annually in late June and early July in London, England at the All England Club. Wimbledon, or under its previous guise at the British Open, is the oldest tennis tournament in the world, also considered to be the biggest as well. With strawberries and cream a summer treat for the crowds and strict dress codes for the players, the event is steeped in prestigious history. Wimbledon is the only grass surface Grand Slam tournament. Up for grabs are the famous trophies, a silver cup for the men, and perhaps one of the most iconic trophies in sport, the sterling silver salver, the Venus Rosewater Dish.
Wimbledon – The All England Club
To give the famous club it’s full name, it is the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, which was founded in 1868 by private funds. It wasn’t until around a decade after its opening that lawn tennis was introduced as a sport there. The very first Wimbledon Championship was then held in 1977, which only had the Men’s Singles as an event and only 22 players entered. For the 1997 Championships, Wimbledon started a phase of updating, with a new Number One Court and improved facilities for staff and players to follow. The famous centre court had a retractable roof ready for the 2009 Championships. Usage of Centre Court and Court No. 1 is limited solely to the Wimbledon Champions.
Winners of the Wimbledon Championships took on some strong trends through its early history. The first ever event in 1877 was won by Britain’s Spencer Gore. That set off a trend of Britain’s securing the Gentlemen’s Singles title all the way through 1906. After Arthur Gore became the oldest ever winner of Wimbledon to date, triumphing at the age of 41 in the 1909 final, it was then supremacy handed to New Zealand, with Anthony Wilding taking four titles on the trot. After a long spell of non-British players, Fred Perry took three Wimbledon titles in a row between 1934 and 1936.
The first Wimbledon Women’s Singles Championship was held in 1884 and won by Maud Watson. Up until 1914, the final Championships before the break for First World War again, in all but two of the years in between were won by British players. After the war, France’s Suzanne Lenglen laid down a strong legacy, winning Wimbledon back to back five times in a row in the early twenties, before American Helen Wills Moody took over by winning eight titles.
The tournament moved into the Open era in 1968 and the first couple of editions were won by Australia’s Rod Laver. It was in the latter half of the seventies that the All England Club was dominated by Sweden’s Bjorn Borg, who won five times in a row, before John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors swung ascendancy back to America. McEnroe, who had some famous moments at Wimbledon, would win the title three times in the early 80’s.
America’s Billie Jean King became the first Women’s Singles winner of the Open era, going on to to win the title four times, including the famous 1973 final against Chris Evert. The 80’s and 90’s were largely about two players, the great Martina Navratilova, who won Wimbledon a record nine times in her career, and German powerhouse Steffi Graf who would take the Championship seven times.
After Boris Becker’s success in the late eighties in the Gentlemen’s Singles, there then came the success of American Pete Sampras through the nineties, winning the title seven times in eight seasons. With a win in 2012, Swiss superstar Roger Federer registered his seventh Wimbledon title, dominating the 2000’s at the All England Club. The 2000’s in the Women’s Singles event was dominated by the Williams sisters, with both Venus and Serena winning five times each, the latter taking her fifth in the 2012 final.