Since people first began competing in tennis tournaments, up until 2021, there have been countless tournaments and competitions.
However, the tennis tournaments in Miami or anywhere else in America cannot amount to the historical importance of the legendary Wimbledon championships.
The first-ever tennis competition inaugurated on July 9, 1877, was organized at Wimbledon. Hence, the Wimbledon championships are renowned for their longevity and reverence in sport.
Those who play, watch, or report on sports know what it is all about. With millions of viewers annually and even more money generated, it is among the highlights of the sporting calendar year.
Without further ado, join us as we discuss the history of Wimbledon:
The First Event
Speaking of the first-ever iteration of the event, it was marshaled by the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club. And true to the times, it wasn't open to women, with only had 22 male competitors.
Around 30 people were offered seats, and the total audience in the finale came down to 200. This explains the scale of growth of Wimbledon from then to now.
Hence, following the triumph of the event, the next time it happened, it was bigger and better. The second time was in 1884, and it had double the men.
The second iteration was also the first time that women were invited to partake in games. However, earlier in the history of Wimbledon, women's matches weren't taken as seriously as they are today.
For instance, women weren't allowed to compete until the men's singles were concluded. Unfortunately, this is not exclusively a tennis problem – women in sport were barely recognized.
Due to the First and Second World Wars, no Wimbledon tennis tournaments were held between 1915-1918 and 1940-1945.
As a result, there were several limitations on large crowd congregations. And not to mention, Europe, Britain specifically, was preoccupied with its wartime mood and economy.
Moreover, patrons and fans of the club supported the closure to make sure that the club survived. This was undoubtedly a good decision because of the impact Wimbledon had on future tennis competitions.
Death Of A Champion
This halt on sporting activities was further justified by one of the earlier tragedies in the tennis world: the death of a Champion, Anthony Wilding.
He was admired and revered for his unparalleled ability in lawn tennis. And his experience led him to secure three of the world singles championships and four Davis Cups with Australasia.
Upon the outburst of the world war, he was in the US to display his skill at one of the major USA tennis tournaments. Unfortunately, on his return, he was killed on the Western Front in 1915.
Fast-forwarding to the 1920s, Suzanne Lenglen became the first prominent female performer at professional tennis tournaments.
Her record was quite unbelievable for the time. She secured a total of fifteen titles for herself, and alongside this, she won 91 of the 94 matches she competed in
Then again, in 1925, Suzanne Lenglen dominated the women's singles, reaching previously unattainable heights. Although 1926 was officially her last year during when she also withdrew from Wimbledon.
Meanwhile, in 1922, the event shifted to a new location: Church road; the new establishment could lodging 13,500 people.
In the same year, King George VI appeared on the ground, and he competed in the men's double. The King and his co-partner had the advantage of youth over their opposing players, but the opponents won, striking back with their superior tricks through their experience.
In the 1930s, there were some remarkably noteworthy that the history recalls, and among them is the first-ever television coverage of the tennis tournaments.
The BBC broadcasted their first sports live coverage to facilitate the audience at home. However, the duration of the broadcast was restricted to only about 30 minutes.
In the 1940s, things took a turn. This was when World War II broke out, and things were pretty outrageous.
Then, on October 11, a bomb was dropped on Wimbledon Centre Court. It bashed a corner of the competitor stand, and Wimbledon was impuissant to recover the damage until 1947.
Besides, 1200 seats were lost in the bomb strike. However, the championship did go on as planned in the future years.
The loss of seats portrayed a strain up upon the management board, but the event went ahead. Moreover, with players from 23 different countries taking part, the tournament was re-established.
Soon in the 1950s, the Queen visited Wimbledon for the very first time, specifically in 1957. She attended the men's double final.
Although, at a bizarre interval, a spectator interrupted the game, running to the center of the court. She held a banner that said, "Save Our Queen" and was promptly escorted out within minutes.
In the 1960s, things went on smoothly, and regularly scheduled matches took place. Amongst the games were those of Angela Mortimer and Christine Truman in 1961.
Mortimer sharply changed her game plan and ended up winning the second round of the tournament after an unpredicted game delay.
Then in 1964, one of the greatest rivalries meet in the court; Margaret Court and Maria Bueno faced each other in a memorable playoff.
Margaret was the younger of the players. However, the rivalry between both was inevitable, so they were destined to play against each other.
Then in 1968, the thrill surrounding the first Open Wimbledon was the highlight. Once again, some of the greatest players in the world got to face each other.
This star-studded list included some renowned names:
- Rod Laver
- Pancho Segura
- Lew Hoad
- Andres Gimeno
- Butch Buchholz
- Ken Rosewall
Meanwhile, American Billie Jean King won the ladies' Championships, being successful in the tournament for the third year running.
And like before, the King competed again. He played with some notable players as well and was able to come out the victor.
Then lastly, there was a match between Pancho Gonzalez and Charlie Pasarell. The intensity of the competition between them is still recalled often and is one of the best examples of competitive tennis.
The 70s weren't short on memorable Wimbledon moments, barring the strike. Britain was going through a transitional period and was routinely plagued with industrial debates and controversies.
However, in 1973 when most of the men's section of Wimbledon pulled out in the most startling event in the history of Wimbledon.
Similar to the other disputes, this one was affected by the political and economic issues of the time, and was unnecessarily prolonged.
Then, Wimbledon was caught red-handed in the middle of a confrontation. However, the intervention of the International Lawn Tennis Federation and the Association of Tennis Professionals aimed to solve the issue.
As a result, 79 players withdrew their entries and role of participation. Moreover, 13 players amongst the 79 were from the original 16 seeds.
Fourteen matches were played in total in the same decade, and the players who took part went above and beyond to set new records.
Additionally, by this time, tennis was commonly known and was enormously enjoyed throughout the world.
The 1980s will forever be remembered for the phrase "You cannot be serious" – the script to an anomaly event on the court. This is one of the most famous lines ever said in the history of tennis.
In 1981 John McEnroe was so enraged at the Wimbledon umpire that he muttered these now-notorious words.
The decision to voice his dismay was quite impulsive and unlike him. Nevertheless, McEnroe's calling card became so well-known that he even included the words in his autobiography.
Then in 1984, one of the greatest champions was celebrated at the Church Road ground. There was a statue erected to highlight the 50th anniversary of Fred Perry's first singles championships.
It was made out of bronze, depicting Perry in his prime. In addition, the statue was almost life-like, showing Perry's typical stance.
Then in the following year, 1985, a curious fashion statement was released. Not like Wimbledon wasn't already familiar with celebrities and attendants making a style statement; this year, the players joined in.
From Gussie Moran's legendary trimmed underwear to Suzanne Lenglen's long skirts, everyone brought their styles to Wimbledon.
Moreover, one of the more extraordinary outfits was presented by American Anne White in 1985. Her white one-piece lycra bodysuit enticed a lot of attention from the photographers and the crowd altogether.
Unfortunately, due to her unfit outfit, the play was also suspended for the day. In the same year, lightning struck the center court right before play.
First, the stadium was trembled to its foundations by a blinding light. Later, the television footage also revealed how spectators barely escaped the arena as they waited for the day's first match.
However, later, matches continued as scheduled as the fans returned to watch, and the competitors returned with their rackets.
In the 2000s, all players got rights to equal prize money. The All England Club decided in 2007 to honor both men and women with the same amount of winnings in all the upcoming tennis tournaments.
Furthermore, two years later, in 2009, the ceiling of the Centre court was renovated. This was because, over the years, the building suffered the wrath of the wretched London rains.
On May 17, 2009, Wimbledon finally revealed its long-awaited Centre Court roof, which initially took nine long years to plan and then another three years to assemble.
Moreover, matches took place during regular intervals throughout the decade.
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