The History of Wimbledon Tennis
The first Wimbledon Championships were held on 9 June 1877 and were advertised as a ‘lawn tennis meeting, open to all amateurs.’ They hosted the tournament at Worple Road in Wimbledon which isn’t far from the current home of the tournament.
‘No Women Allowed’
22 men turned up and paid the £1 1 shilling fee to take part, however women weren’t allowed to enter. A modest crowd of 200 people watched the first matches. These were played with wooden rackets and hand-sewn flannel balls.
It wasn’t until 1884 that the All England Club agreed to open the Championships up to both sexes. Lottie Dodd, from Cheshire, made her mark on Wimbledon a few years later as the (still unbeaten) youngest woman to win the title at the age of 15! She went on to win the Championships over the next four years. This proves that women deserved a place in the game.
Growth in Popularity of Wimbledon
William Renshaw sparked a rise in public interest in the sport in 1889 with the first of his string of seven consecutive Wimbledon victories.
By the 1900s, the Championships at Wimbledon had become an international affair and in 1905 May Sutton from the United States became the first overseas champion when she won the Ladies’ Singles title.
In 1908, Wimbledon hosted the Olympic tennis tournament at its Worple Road base. Then, in 1922, the Championships moved to its current home on Church Road.
A Royal Following
The Championships at Wimbledon have long attracted a royal following and have even seen a royal take to the court. In 1926 the Duke of York, who later became King George VI (the Queen’s father), competed in the men’s doubles. His match formed part of the Jubilee Championships where King George V and Queen Mary presented the commemorative medals. Unfortunately he and his partner lost in straight sets.
Long-standing British favourite Fred Perry grabbed the nation’s attention when he won the Championships in three consecutive years from 1936. Murray’s victory in 2013 remains the last British win at Wimbledon.
In 1937, live sports coverage was added to the bill and the Wimbledon Championshipswere broadcast to those within a 40-mile radius of the BBC transmitters in north London.
Now, Wimbledon demands huge viewing figures and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors. Many of them queuing for days to secure one of the much-coveted Centre Court tickets. Matches play across 19 courts (Centre Court, plus courts 1-19 – there is no court 13, which is deemed unlucky).
This year Wimbledon returns; as has Andy Murray after a 4 year break from Tennis. 2020 is the only year that the tournament has been cancelled during peacetime; the only other cancellation being during both world wars.
The 2021 Wimbledon Championships will be the 134th edition of the tournament, the 127th staging of the Ladies’ Singles Championship event, the 53rd in the Open Era, and the third Grand Slam tournament of the year. While Novak Djokovic is the men’s singles defending champion, Romania’s Simona Halep would have been defending her title, however she has withdrawn due to injury. Johanna Khonta has also withdrawn due to her team testing positive for Covid. The women’s competition has been blown wide open!
The tournament will be working up to 50% capacity across the two weeks with no queue. Tickets being offered online instead of through a ballot for the first time ever. Centre court will go ahead with 100% capacity (15’000 people) for finals weekend under the government’s pilot scheme. This year begins the first scheduled play on middle Sunday, which is a permanent change for all foreseeable tournaments. This comes after unpredictable weather has caused crazy scheduling for some of the players and restriction of play on manic monday.
We have been providing on site worldwide shipping services to guests at Wimbledon for almost a quarter of a century! It was Originally situated within the new merchandise shop under what was then the new Number 1 Court when it opened in 1997. Now we are situated outside the entrance to the shop due to its popularity with visitors and space limitations within the store. We have many regular returning overseas customers that entrust their merchandise to us to get it home safely and securely, whilst they continue to enjoy the tennis, Pimms and strawberries! We are not on site this year as the visitors will overwhelmingly be from the UK due to Covid travel restrictions, but we look forward to returning next year when ‘normality’ returns…