Wimbledon, The Wimbledon Championships or just The Championships, is one of the most famous and the most prestigious tennis championships in the world, along with Roland Garros, US Open and the Australian Open. For many tennis aficionados, there is nothing like Wimbledon. Winning at this championship carries a certain prestige that cannot be topped by any number of medals and trophies won at other tournaments. This major international sports event means more than just tennis – it’s also about who is there, who is playing, who is watching, is the Queen going to be there and who is going to wear what hat. If you are a tennis lover who sees Wimbledon as the premiere sports event of the year, you will definitely be interested to learn how it all began and how it came to be what it is today.
This championship started in 1877 as Lawn Tennis Championships with only men’s singles, and it was an amateur competition. The first championship had only 22 participants, the admission fee was very modest and so was the prize. Women’s singles were introduced seven years later, with only 13 ladies participating. The same year the women’s singles were inaugurated, the championship introduced the men’s doubles. The first permanent stands were built for the crown that flocked to see the Renshaw Twins, who, together and in doubles, won 13 titles from 1881 to 1889.
Soon, the overseas players started competing and the first non-British champion of Wimbledon was May Sutton, an American who win the title in 1905. The championship was, of course, suspended during the World War I but after the war the interest was still great so the club bought new ground at Church Road and moved there in 1922, thus initiating a new era of Wimbledon tennis championship. The Centre Court allowed 9, 989 spectators (plus standing room for another 3,600), which tremendously boosted the championship’s (and the game’s) popularity. The following years were marked by the French dominance in the game, with names such as Rene Lacoste and Jean Borotra. Another landmark was hit in 1930 when Brame Hillyard came to play in shorts.
The championship was again suspended during the World War II. In 1940 the grounds were struck by a bomb that destroyed over a thousand seats at the Centre Court. It was only in the 1949 that the courts were fully restored. The following decades were marked by American and Australian dominance. In 1968, Wimbledon became officially an “open” championship, with Rod Laver and Billie Jean King champions of that year.
Other important events in the history of Wimbledon include the introduction of chairs for the players to rest between sets in 1975, the introduction of tie breaks at 6-6 in 1979, the introduction of the electronic monitor in 1980, Boris Becker becoming the youngest ever champion in 1985 and Martina Navratilova winning the all-time record of nine Wimbledon victories in 1990.
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