Wimbledon is set to take place again this coming June, with the two week tournament often being viewed as the highlight of the season, and the most prestigious of the four Grand Slams. Wimbledon is also the oldest professional tournament in the world, having first taken place in 1877.
Due to the current pandemic, Wimbledon is likely to take place without an audience this year, unless something changes and crowds are allowed. However, this is a tournament that is always worth following, and in the famous world of tennis it is one of, if not the best tournament to watch, both live and on TV. Here are 5 reasons to love it.
The first tournament was played all the way back in 1877, with 22 men playing in the five day tournament. With the first 4 days being rained out, the final was played on the fifth, with Spencer Gore beating William Marshall in 48 minutes in straight sets.
The grass courts were arranged around the main court where the final was played, hence the name “centre court”. Even a bombing hitting a stand during WW2 didn’t stop the tournament going ahead again 1946.
There was also an almost 100 year gap between the first British men’s winner, Fred Perry in 1936, and the second British men’s winner, Andy Murray in 2013. No British woman has won the tournament since Virginia Wade in 1977.
What sets Wimbledon apart, is the fact that it is the only Grand Slam that is played on grass. Whereas other surfaces benefit a certain style of play more, grass is the surface that allows for all styles and playing techniques.
Power serving, drop shots, spin, it is all possible on grass, and while you can obviously do this on other surfaces, grass will give you the most benefit for doing it write. Yes, it may just be the surface, but it is the original tennis playing environment, and does reflect Wimbledon’s adherence to tradition.
Wimbledon benefits from media attention simply due to when it is played. It is almost always the biggest event happening worldwide when it is played, and the eyes of the sporting world and the media are fixed directly on it.
Wimbledon was also the first tournament to have a radio show dedicated completely to the two weeks of play, covering every game from start to finish. Broadcasters across the world also ensure that they gain coverage of the event, and it beamed to TV’s from South America, all the way across to Asia.
Wimbledon has been famous attracting numerous celebrities every tournament. Movie stars, singers, other sportsmen, and even royalty have attended the famous tournament. The finals are always star studded, and ask any regular fan who has attended a final, and they will tell you it is like a red carpet event.
The queen, Prince Harry and William, Kate Middleton, Megan Markle, and many other monarchs attended the tournament over the decades, and it is seen as the highlight of the British sporting calendar, attracting more of the rich and famous than any other sporting event during the year.
What would Wimbledon be without its traditions? Besides tennis, Wimbledon is famous for two things, white attire, and strawberries and cream. Why white though? Wimbledon is the only tournament with a more strict dress code.
Many will tell you the short answer, it’s just dress code, but the longer answer is most definitely something that shows how old the tournament is and how strict it is with following tradition.
Back in the day, sweat stains were viewed as unsightly and rather gross. Playing a tournament of such prestige, players couldn’t be viewed as “dirty”, so organisers decided that all white attire would hide the sweat stains, and make the players look gentle on the eye.
Strawberries and cream is a tradition whose origins are slightly unknown, and could date back as far as the 1500’s. Chefs would need to cook massive feasts for royalty, for upwards of 600 guests, with strawberries and cream being used because it was simple, and easy to prepare.
A man by the name of Thomas Wolsey apparently started the tradition, and having a tennis court at his palace, meant strawberries and cream was a quick and simple meal he could feed guests, that would take barely any time, and can be made in abundance. Hence, the tradition flowed into Wimbledon.
There are a couple of others, such as having the Royal Box, which was first built in 1922, and has played host to royalty ever since. Also, in every other tournament, the matches are referred to as “Men’s” and “Women’s”, whereas at Wimbledon, they are called Gentlemen’s and Ladies.
As you can tell, Wimbledon is steeped in a long and illustrious history and tradition. It is still regarded as the premier tournament on the calendar, and is also generally considered the most prestigious. Even though there was not a tournament in 2020, 2021 is set to be another year of exciting tennis, and incredible atmosphere, and another year on the books for the oldest tennis tournament in the world.