The Wimbledon Championships, widely recognized as the most esteemed, are the oldest tennis tournament on the planet and have taken place at The All-England Club in London since 1877. Since 2019, two of its courts have been fitted with retractable roofs.
Wimbledon is one of the four prestigious Grand Slam tennis tournaments, including the Australian Open, French Open, and US Open. It is unique in that it is the only tournament still contested on grass – the original playing surface for this beloved sport. Moreover, Wimbledon has a night-time curfew which differs from its rival majors; however, when necessary, matches have been extended until 11.00 pm due to floodlighting.
This tournament is held every year in late June and early July, beginning on the last Monday. It ends with the Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Singles Finals on the Saturday and Sunday of week two. Five major events are hosted during the two weeks, with various junior and invitational tournaments also taking place. In 2009, Wimbledon Centre Court was modified to include a retractable roof to reduce delays caused by rain. Moreover, No. 1 Court got its own roof in 2019 along with some other added features including soft seating, a table and 10 functioning cameras per court for recordings.
Wimbledon stands out for its strict dress code for competitors, requiring white attire; Royal patronage; and the traditional consumption of strawberries and cream. Minimal advertising from official suppliers such as Slazenger and Rolex add to its allure; Slazenger has had a long relationship with the tournament, having supplied balls since 1902.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 Wimbledon was cancelled, the first time since World War II. The rescheduled 134th edition took place from 28 June 2021 to 11 July 2021 in response. In 2022, the 135th edition of the tournament was held between 27 June and 10 July, which included play on the middle Sunday for the very first time as a commemoration of its inaugural championships staged at Centre Court. However, due to debate around players representing Russia and Belarus being prohibited from competing, no ranking points were awarded by the ATP, ITF or WTA.
2023 is set to mark the 136th edition of the Wimbledon Championships, which will kick off on 3 July and conclude on 16 July. This year’s tournament will also see the reign of King Charles III commence after the passing of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022.
The All-England Croquet Club was established at Nursery Road, just off Worple Road in Wimbledon.
In 1876, Major Walter Clopton Wingfield created lawn tennis, originally called Sphairistikè, as an outdoor version of the sport known as real tennis. The All-England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club then included it in their activities and subsequently renamed themselves in spring 1877 after instituting the first Lawn Tennis Championship. This resulted in a new set of rules being issued to govern the game, much like today’s regulations with slight changes regarding the height of the net and posts and how far away the service line should be from it.
In 1877, Wimbledon’s inaugural Championship began on the 9th of July with the Gentlemen’s Singles as its only event. 22 male competitors paid a guinea to take part and it was scheduled to last five days; however, rain delayed the final until 19 July. On that day, Spencer Gore – an old Harrovian rackets player – won against William Marshall in 48 minutes with a score of 6–1, 6–2 and 6–4. As reward for his victory, he was presented with a silver challenge cup courtesy of The Field magazine, worth 25 guineas in addition to 12 guineas worth of prize money. A total of 200 audience members shelled out one shilling a piece to view the awaited game.
The All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club was established in July 1868, originally as ‘The All-England Croquet Club’, on Nursery Road off Worple Road in Wimbledon.
In 1876, Major Walter Clopton Wingfield brought Lawn Tennis to the club as an outdoor variation of Real Tennis; it was first called Sphairistikè. In spring that same year, the name of the club evolved to The All-England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club, and they also announced the first ever Championship of Lawn Tennis. This tournament featured a new set of regulations, different from those administered by the Marylebone Cricket Club. Nowadays, most rules are equal with just minor differences like net height and post distance from service line.
The first Wimbledon Championship was held on 9 July 1877, with only the Men’s Singles taking place. 22 competitors paid a guinea each for entrance into the tournament, set to span five days, yet due to rain it ended up lasting four more. On 19 July 1877, Spencer Gore, an old Harrovian rackets player faced off against William Marshall in the final and won 6–1, 6–2 and 6–4 within 48 minutes. For his feat he was rewarded with both a silver challenge cup worth 25 guineas donated by The Field magazine as well as prize money of 12 guineas. Approximately 200 people were present at the event for which they each paid one shilling.
When the club moved in 1922 to its current base in Church Road, it retained the name ‘Centre Court’, despite it being an inaccurate description. But in 1980, four more courts were opened on the north side of the area and so the title was once again a fitting descriptor. When No. 1 Court was unveiled in 1997, this further exemplified its appropriateness. Lawn tennis had become its predominant activity by 1882, causing “croquet” to be dropped from the name; however, it was brought back in 1899 for sentimental reasons.
In 1884, the Ladies’ Singles competition was introduced to the club and it was also decided that the Gentlemen’s Doubles be moved from the Oxford University Lawn Tennis Club. Thirteen years later, ladies’ doubles and mixed doubles events were included. In 1924, amateur Bertrand Milbourne Clark from Jamaica had the honor of being the first black player ever to compete at Wimbledon.
Until 1922, the reigning champion only competed in the final; all other matches were between top-ranked amateurs. With the open era in 1968, professionals could compete for the first time. British men had experienced a drought in their success at Wimbledon; Fred Perry was the last victor in 1936 until Andy Murray’s triumph in 2013. Similarly, Virginia Wade was the last British woman to take home the title in 1977, although Annabel Croft and Laura Robson both won Girls’ Championship titles in 1984 and 2008 respectively. Television broadcast of The Championship began in 1937.
The event is commonly referred to as “The Championships, Wimbledon”, though other sources also call it “The All-England Lawn Tennis Championships”, the “Wimbledon Championships” or simply “Wimbledon”. In 1912-1924, the tournament was acknowledged by the International Lawn Tennis Federation as the “World Grass Court Championships”.
Between 1915 and 1918, because World War I, no tournament was held.
During World War II, the tournament was not held between 1940 and 1945. On 11 October 1940 a bomb hit one corner of the competitors’ stand at Centre Court. Even so, the championships resumed in 1946 even though 1,200 seats had to be removed because of the damage. The organizers were only able to repair and renovate the Centre Court completely in time for the 1949 edition.
In 1946 and 1947, Wimbledon was held prior to the French Championships and was the second major tennis tournament of the year.
Wimbledon is widely regarded as the world’s leading tennis tournament, and the club is determined to retain its status. In 1993, a long-term plan was developed to improve the experience of spectators, players, officials and Neighbours. Stage one (1994–1997) saw the construction of No. 1 Court in Aorangi Park, a broadcast center, two grass courts and a tunnel linking Church Road and Somerset Road. The next stage (1997–2009) included demolition of the old No. 1 Court and development of the Millennium Building with facilities for players, press, officials and members; as well as an extension of the West Stand on Centre Court with 728 additional seats. Finally, stage three (2000–2011) introduced an entrance building, housing for club staff, museum, bank and ticket office.
The new retractable roof, completed in time for the 2009 championships, meant that rain no longer delayed play on Centre Court. The Club tested it out at A Centre Court Celebration, where exhibition matches featuring Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Kim Clijsters, and Tim Henman took place. Dinara Safina and Amélie Mauresmo’s fourth round women’s singles match was the first to occur beneath it. Andy Murray and Stanislas Wawrinka then became the first pair to compete in a full match under the roof on 29 June 2009. Fast forward three years and the 2012 Gentlemen’s Singles Final featured Roger Federer and Murray – with part of the third set taking place beneath the roof. In addition, this event saw Murray defeat Marcos Baghdatis at 11:02 pm in their third-round clash – an example of the furthest Wimbledon play had ever gone into the day.
In the run up to the 2009 Championships, a 4,000-seat No. 2 Court was constructed on the spot where the old No. 13 Court had been. Similarly, a 2,000-seat No. 3 Court was erected on what used to be occupied by both the old No. 2 and No. 3 Courts.
As of 1 August 2011, the All-England Club has transferred all its assets related to The Championships to a subsidiary, AELTC (The All-England Lawn Tennis Club (Championships) Limited). From this point onwards, the activities of the club were conducted separately from The Championships.
In 2012, the All-England Club, home of the iconic Grand Slam tournament, welcomed the Summer Olympic Games and marked its debut as an official Olympic grass court event since tennis reappeared as an Olympic sport. It was also the first time in the Open era that such an event had taken place at a Grand Slam venue.
In April 2013, Wimbledon’s ‘Master Plan’ was unveiled, an ambitious vision aimed at enhancing the championships over the next decade and a half. This was largely in response to other Grand Slam tournaments, like the French Open and Australian Open, announcing their own re-development plans. The master plan entailed new player and media facilities, expansion of No.1 court with a new retractable roof, increased catering and hospitality areas, extra floor on the museum building, construction of an underground car park as well as additional indoor courts altogether with total site reconfiguration including relocation for multiple practice courts.
An integral part of the proposal is the purchase of adjacent Wimbledon Park Golf club’s terrain for £65 million, which will enable qualifying matches to be conducted right there.
On 19 October 2018, it was revealed that a tie-break will occur at the 12–12 mark in any set of a match, applicable across all events including singles and doubles qualifying matches. Furthermore, starting with the 2019 Championships, wheelchair quad competitions will be added as a long-term fixture.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The All-England Club had to make a tough call and announced on 1 April 2020 that the grass-court season had been cancelled. This was a first for Wimbledon since World War II. The board tried to look into the possibility of playing behind closed doors, but with an estimated 5,000 people needed at the tournament site – including ballboys, staff, maintenance workers and security guards – this proved to be too much. Tim Henman, who is currently on the club’s board of directors told Tennis Channel US: “It became obvious that wasn’t going to be a workable option”. As a precautionary measure, before 2003 the club took out insurance against any potential losses from having to cancel Wimbledon due to SARS or another pandemic; this year they will receive £114 million ($141 million) in expected losses of approximately £250 million ($312 million).
In April 2022, the All-England Club declared it would disallow Russian and Belarusian players from participating in the tournament. Even competing as neutral athletes was not allowed. On May 20th of that year, the ATP, ITF and WTA jointly stated they wouldn’t assign ranking points for the event, believing that prohibition to be discriminatory against certain nationalities. Yet come March 31st of 2023, the ban was removed by the same organization.
Wimbledon includes five main competitions, four junior tournaments, and seven invitational activities.
The five primary competitions, along with the participants (or duos when necessary) consist of:
Gentlemen’s Singles (128)
Ladies’ Singles (128)
Gentlemen’s Doubles (64)
Ladies’ Doubles (64)
Mixed Doubles (48)
The junior events are squash, volleyball, badminton and table tennis, and they involve different numbers of players or teams.
Boys’ Singles (64)
Girls’ Singles (64)
Boys’ Doubles (32)
Girls’ Doubles (32)
of competition. This level of competition does
not include a mixed doubles event.
The seven invitational events and the number of pairs are:
Gentlemen’s Invitation Doubles (8 pairs Round Robin)
Ladies’ Invitation Doubles (8 pairs Round Robin)
Senior Gentlemen’s Invitation Doubles (8 pairs Round Robin)
Gentlemen’s Wheelchair Singles
This doubles tournament is open to all ladies who play wheelchair tennis. Four pairs of participants will compete in the competition. This competition is specifically for female wheelchair tennis players, and it is open to any wheelchair user who would like to take part.
Gentlemen’s Singles and Doubles are usually best-of-five sets, whereas all other events are best-of-three. Until 2018, a tiebreak game was played when the score reached 6–all in any set except for the fifth (in a five-set match) or the third (in a three-set match), requiring then a two-game lead to be achieved. As of 2019, whenever there is an even score of 12–all observed in the final set, a final set tiebreak game ensues. For 2022 onward, it has been decided that all matches will feature a final set tie break if the tally reaches 6–6, with a champion’s tie break taking place meaning the winner must get to 10 points and win by two clear points. In case of 9–9 scores, play continues until one player clinches victory by two points margins.
Events at the tournament are all single-elimination, apart from the Gentlemen’s, Senior Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Invitation Doubles, which are round-robin.
Until 1921, the prior year’s winners (except in the Ladies’ Doubles and Mixed Doubles) were given a “free pass” straight into the final round. This resulted in numerous champions retaining their titles in consecutive years, as they were able to stay fresh while their challenger started at the beginning of the competition. However, since 1922, past victors have had to compete through all stages of the tournament just like everyone else.
Every year, the tournament begins on either the last Monday in June or first Monday in July, two weeks after the Queen’s Club Championships (one of the major men’s warm-up tournaments). At the same time, the Gerry Weber Open is held in Halle, Germany. Other grass-court tournaments prior to Wimbledon include Eastbourne and Great Britain (combining both mixed events), as well as Rosmalen in the Netherlands. For women preparing for Wimbledon, Birmingham located in Great Britain is their go-to event. As far as men’s events outside Europe come before Wimbledon, they have Antalya open in Turkey. Lastly, following Wimbledon is the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships at Newport, Rhode Island USA.
Wimbledon lasts for 14 days, always beginning on a Monday and ending on the Sunday. Before 1982, the tournament featured the women’s singles final on Friday, followed by the men’s singles final the next day. The five main events take place over both weeks, although junior and invitational matches usually occur during the second. Traditionally there was ‘no play’ on the Middle Sunday – deemed as a rest day – however rain has caused Middle Sunday to be used four times in 1991, 1997, 2004 and 2016; with one of these instances being dubbed “People’s Sunday”. Thanks to this change, from 2022 onwards Middle Sunday will form a permanent part of Wimbledon’s schedule. This means that Round of 16 matches can be completed according to plan – an announcement made at their 2021 Spring Press Conference.
By 2022, the second Monday of Wimbledon will no longer be known as “Manic Monday”, as it has been in the past. It remains an incredibly busy day with both men and women’s singles last-16 matches, as fans can watch any of the top 32 players competing on that single day; a feature unique to Grand Slam singles competitions.
Since 2015, the championships have had a one-week delay compared to previous years, increasing the gap between it and the French Open from two to three weeks. The Stuttgart Open men’s tournament made the switch to grass and was moved from July to June, resulting in a longer grass court season.
Players and seeding
The men’s and ladies’ singles events at Wimbledon are both made up of 128 players. Selection is based on their international rankings: the men’s tournament allows for 104 direct entries, with the ladies’ competition having 108. Also, each tournament welcomes 8 wild card entrants, while the rest earn their place through qualifiers. Since 2001, 32 players have been seeded in each of the single’s events, with 16 teams given seeding in the doubles matches. The system of seeding first came into effect in 1924; it was a simpler version allowing countries to nominate four participants spread across different parts of the draw. This system was then replaced for 1927’s Championships when players were seeded based on merit – René Lacoste and Helen Wills were the inaugural no. 1 seeds.
The Committee of Management chooses which players are given wildcards. This is typically those who have excelled in previous tournaments, or individuals who will bring added attention to the Wimbledon tournament. The only wild card to win the Gentleman’s Singles Championship was Goran Ivanisevic in 2001. A qualifying tournament is also available a week before Wimbledon if players do not rank highly enough or receive a wildcard invitation – this competition is held at the Bank of England Sports Ground in Roehampton and consists of three rounds for single competitors. From 2019, singles qualification has been increased to 128 players, while Mixed Doubles does not have a qualifying tournament and same-sex doubles contests have been shortened to two rounds. The highest progress made by any qualifier has been in the semi-finals; John McEnroe (Gentleman’s Singles) 1977, Vladimir Voltchkov (Gentleman’s Singles) 2000, and Alexandra Stevenson (Ladies’ Singles) 1999.
Players may gain admittance to the junior tournaments through recommendations from their national tennis associations, International Tennis Federation world rankings and a qualifier tournament in the singles events. The Committee of Management selects participants for the four invitational competitions.
The Committee seeds the top players and pairs based on their rankings, but it could amend this depending on a player’s past grass court results. Since 2002 no seeding committee is required for the Gentlemen’s Singles after inking a pact with the ATP, and since 2021 the seeding process has followed suit as the ATP rankings. From 2002 to 2019, the top 32 players (according to the ATP rankings) were given placements in accordance with an equation taking into account their standing in the Entry System Position, along with 100% of points gained from grass court competitions within a 12-month span, plus 75% points earned from their most fruitful Grass Court tournament taking place over the prior year.
Most of the competitors in the competition are unseeded. 1995 marks the only time an unseeded winner has taken away the Gentlemen’s Singles title; Boris Becker was ranked 20th, whilst Goran Ivanišević won as a Wild Card entrant with a lower ranking of 125th due to a three-year shoulder injury. Richard Krajicek was another unseeded victor, having started as 17th ranked and been promoted to seeded when Thomas Muster withdrew beforehand. No one without a seed has won Ladies’ Singles; Venus Williams achieved success in 2007 as 23rd seed after coming back from injury. Unseeded duos have garnered doubles titles on multiple occasions, including in 2005 which saw qualifiers clinch the Gentlemen’s Doubles crown for the first time ever.
Since 2001, Wimbledon courts have been sown with 100% perennial ryegrass, in contrast to the previous combination of 70% ryegrass and 30% Creeping Red Fescue. The alteration was carried out to make the sward more durable and resistant to the more intensive playing style now seen on tour.
The main courts, Centre Court and No. 1 Court, are usually used twice a year at the Championships but there have been times when play was extended to a third week. The remaining 17 courts hold regular events hosted by the club. In 2012, these show courts were utilised for a second time in three months as Wimbledon staged the Olympic Games tennis tournaments. Additionally, one of these same show courts sometimes hosts home ties of Great Britain teams in the Davis Cup.
Once upon a time, all of the Grand Slam tournaments except for the French Open were held on grass courts. With the US Open transitioning to green clay in 1975 and the Australian Open doing so in 1988, Wimbledon is now the only Major still played on natural turf. Eventually, several years later, even the US Open began using hard courts.
Between the years of 1877 and 1921, Wimbledon’s grounds were situated on four acres of meadowland located in the central area of Wimbledon, betwixt Worple Road and a railway line. In 1908, this venue was selected to host the tennis events for the Summer Olympics. As attendance at the Championships rose, it soon became clear that a capacity of 8,000 at Worple Road was not appropriate. Consequently, the Club began exploring alternatives and eventually chose an area off Church Road towards the north end of Wimbledon town centre. In 1922 they relocated to their new home – a venture which cost around £140,000 and was regarded as something of an economic speculation at that time. The old ground in Worple Road then became the playing field for Wimbledon High School and remains so even today.
The opening of the principal court at Church Road, Centre Court, in 1922 was necessary to meet the rising demand for tennis. In preparation for any inclement weather during Wimbledon, a retractable roof was installed before the 2009 Championship; it can open and close fully within 20 minutes. This roof is closed mainly to protect players from rain or extreme heat in The Championships. It was first employed during an Amélie Mauresmo and Dinara Safina match on Monday 29 June 2009, with Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka playing the first full match under its protection shortly after.
Wimbledon’s Centre Court holds a capacity of 14,979. The Royal Box at the court’s south end offers a privileged view for members of the Royal Family and other high-ranking individuals. It is also home to key matches from earlier rounds featuring top-ranked players or homegrown heroes, culminating in the finals and semifinals of major events.
The second most renowned court at Wimbledon is No. 1 Court. Replacing the old court in 1997, it was constructed due to a limited capacity of spectators for the previous one. This old stadium was praised for its unique and more intimate atmosphere making it beloved by many players. In 2017, a new retractable roof was added to upgrade and expand the capacity by 900 people, thus bringing it up to 12,345. To match this refurbishment, a new No. 2 Court was built with a 4,000-spectator capacity in 2009 while ensuring preservation of local views through the structure’s single-storey 3.5m height that falls around 3.5m below ground level as part of permission planning granted after Olympic Games 2012. This former No.2 Court has been renamed as No.3 Court following its nickname, ‘Graveyard of Champions’, which prefaced multiple highly seeded players’ defeats there over the years with such names as Ilie Năstase, John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras and Maria Sharapova to name a few; boasting an audience size of 2192 + 770 standing accommodations today. Additionally in 2011 other courts were inaugurated after demolition of previous ones –
At the northern part of the grounds sits a giant television screen where important matches are aired to fans not fortunate enough to have tickets to the corresponding court. This gently sloped grassy area, named the Aorangi Terrace, has become popular when British players excel at Wimbledon. It has been given various nicknames by the press — Greg Rusedski’s followers convened at “Rusedski Ridge”, and Tim Henman’s founds found themselves on ‘Henman Hill’. With both now retired, and Andy Murray as Britain’s current most successful player, it is occasionally referred to as “Murray Mound” or “Murrayfield”, in honour of his Scottish heritage and namesake of a Scottish rugby ground. However, these names have failed to take off — this area is still more commonly called Henman Hill. None of these titles however are officially accepted.
1913 suffragette terror attack
In 1913, the suffragettes launched a bombing and arson campaign to push for women’s votes prior to the First World War. On 27 February of that year, a female suspect aged between 30–35 was apprehended while climbing over a hedge at midnight. She was discovered in possession of paraffin and wood shavings, with an intention to set fires in the grounds. Refusing to reveal her identity or any other details to the police, she received a two-month jail term.
Bank of England Sports Centre
In the run up to the main draw, the qualifying matches are held at the Bank of England Sports Ground in Roehampton, situated 5.8 km away from the All-England Club.
Social commentator Ellis Cashmore portrays Wimbledon as embodying a high degree of reverence for the standards used in 1950s Britain. Peter York, meanwhile, perceives it as depicting a particular variety of Britishness – white-collar, affluent and southern. Cashmore has noted that the event is isolated from the diverse makeup of contemporary Britain, which he considers “nobody’s idea of all-things-British”.
Ball boys and ball girls
In championship tournaments, ball boys and girls – known as BBGs – are essential for a successful event. It is expected that a good BBG will be unobtrusive, working in the background without drawing attention to themselves.
were selected from the local orphanage in London.
Since 1969, BBGs have been drawn from schools in the London boroughs of Merton, Sutton, Kingston and Wandsworth and select Surrey. Traditionally, Wandsworth Boys School in Sutherland Grove, Southfields and Mayfield Girls School on West Hill in Wandsworth – both now defunct due to their proximity to the club – were chosen for selection. BBGs typically are 15 years old and consist of students in the 9th and 10th school years. These teens serve for up to 5 tournaments (or one year if re-selected) until they reach 13th grade.
Since 2005, BBGs have been working in teams of six – two at the net and four at the corners. They rotate on court for an hour (or two, depending on the court) and then spend an hour off. This ensures that all courts are served with equal standards. With more courts to cover and longer days of play, approximately 250 BBGs are required annually each year. During the second Wednesday, when the number of matches reduces, only 80 are left on the final Sunday. At the end of their service period every BBG is given a certificate, a can of used balls, a group photograph, a programme and a payment ranging from £160-£250; this works out at around £17 per day. As for mementos, they keep their kit! There has been parity between boys and girls since 1977; girls have had centre court appearances since 1985.
Prospective BBGs must first be nominated by their school headteacher in order to be considered for selection. Written tests on the rules of tennis and fitness, mobility and other suitability tests will then have to be passed, to assess whether candidates are ready for the next stage. In February, those successful candidates begin a training phase, where final selection takes place through continual assessment; this year’s intake was 600. The training includes physical, procedural and theoretical instruction per week, so as to make sure the BBGs are agile, alert, self-confident and have the ability to adjust to varying circumstances. Since 2011, early training has occurred inside and outside the Wimbledon All England Lawn Tennis Club Covered Courts (8, 9 and 10). This is done a week before the Championships so that all BBGs gain an understanding of what it feels like to play on grass court.
At The Championships at Wimbledon, forty-two chair umpires are utilised each day, generally working two matches. Tablets are used to record the scores of each match, which can be viewed on scoreboards and wimbledon.com. Teams made up of either seven- or nine-line umpires work across the courts with a Centre Court team and Court 1-3, 12 and 18 teams consisting of nine while the other courts are operated by seven. These teams alternate every sixty minutes between being on court duty or off it. Recently, Hawk-Eye technology has been introduced that can identify when a ball has gone out of bounds and Wimbledon continues to employ both this technology and line umpires.
Colors and uniforms
At Wimbledon, traditional colours are dark green and purple. Tennis players taking part in the tournament need to have white or almost all-white gear, a long-standing custom at this tournament. A certain amount of colour is still allowed as long as it does not represent an identifiable commercial brand logo, with the exception of the outfitter’s symbol. Martina Navratilova got into trouble in 1982 when wearing branding for “Kim” cigarettes. Until 2005, officials, ball boys and ball girls wore green uniforms; however, starting 2006 they were dressed in blue and cream-coloured outfits from American designer Ralph Lauren.
Referring to players
At Wimbledon, the traditional “Men’s” and “Women’s” competitions are known as the “Gentlemen’s” and “Ladies'” tournaments. Similarly, the junior events are referred to as the “Boys'” and “Girls'” championships.
Prior to 2009, female players were listed on scoreboards by the title “Miss” or “Mrs”. Until 2019, Wimbledon’s Champions Board included married players’ names accompanied by their husband’s. In 2009, a change was made so that both first and last names were used.
At scoreboards, professional male players are no longer referred to by the title “Mr”. The use of this title is retained for amateurs when a replay challenge is used, and the chair umpire will say “Mr <surname> is challenging the call…” and “…has X challenges remaining”. Up until 2018, female players were announced as “Miss” or “Mrs” <surname> instead; however, this protocol was discontinued in 2019. Starting from 2022, all players will be referred to exclusively by name when calling scores.
When a match features competitors with the same surname, the chair umpire will make sure to clarify who they are referring to by including both their first name and last name in the announcement. For example, they might say “Game, Venus Williams” or “Advantage, Mike Bryan.”
In 2003, the All-England Club president Prince Edward, Duke of Kent discontinued the tradition of players bowing or curtsying to members of the Royal Family seated in the Royal Box upon entering or leaving Centre Court. However, if the Prince of Wales or King is present, players are still required to bow or curtsy. This was seen during the 2010 Championships, when Queen Elizabeth II was present. Roger Federer revealed on 27 June 2012 that he and his opponent had been asked to bow towards the Royal Box when Prince Charles and his wife were present; Federer stated that it was not an issue for him.
Before the Second World War, the Brigade of Guards and Royal Artillery veterans served as stewards at the AELTC. After the war ended, in 1946, demobilized members of the Navy were given employment opportunities with this organisation, followed by Army personnel in 1947 and RAF staff in 1949. Then, London Fire Brigade members were added to their numbers in 1965. At present, uniformed service and Fire Brigade stewards are working at Centre Court and No.’s 1, 2, 3, 12 and 18 courts. In 2015 a total of 595 such stewards were employed for this event. Only currently enlisted Armed Forces members can take up this role during their leave periods; additionally, half of each year’s appointees must have been stewards at Wimbledon before. To support their accommodation costs while working at the Championships, AELTC provides a subsistence allowance for service personnel acting as stewards. Distinct from these Service Stewards are 185 Honorary Stewards appointed by the AELTC.
Since 1924, the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club have opened a public ballot at the start of each year for general admission to show court tickets. It is highly sought after with, in 2011, four applications per ticket. Applications must be received by the AELTC before the end of December prior to the tournament. Successful applicants receive randomly chosen seats and days; however, tickets are not able to be transferred or swapped.
The All-England Club, via its subsidiary The All-England Lawn Tennis Ground plc, offers debentures to tennis enthusiasts every five years as a means of raising funds for capital expenditure. When fans invest in the club, they get a pair of tickets for each day of the Wimbledon Championships during the duration of their investment. Only those who have purchased debentures may sell their tickets to third parties and demand for these has risen in recent time to the point they are being traded on the London Stock Exchange.
Those without tickets for Wimbledon and the French Open can still get seats on the three show courts with a visit on the day of the match. Queue cards were implemented in 2003, and since 2008 only one queue is held, containing around 500 spots per court. Upon arrival, fans are given a queue card, but if they decide to leave temporarily, they must coordinate with those waiting nearby or inform a steward.
To gain entry to the major show courts, fans become overnight campers in what is known as “The Queue”. Although technically an act of vagrancy, this experience has become part and parcel with a trip to Wimbledon. The All-England Club provides toilet and water facilities for queuers, in addition to colour-coded wristbands that are distributed by stewards early in the morning. This wristband (and payment) can be exchanged for a ticket at the ticket office when the grounds open. Alternatively, one can opt for general admission which grants access to the outer courts without waiting in line. At 2:30 pm tickets that have been returned by patrons leaving early go on sale with proceeds going towards charity. Queuing ends after the quarter finals have finished.
At 2:40 pm on Monday 28th June 2010, coincided with the seventh day of the Championships, Rose Stanley from South Africa received the millionth numbered Wimbledon queue card.
Unlike other tournaments, advertising from big-name brands is subtle and understated; for instance, IBM, Rolex and Slazenger are all suppliers. Wimbledon is especially known for its long-running association with Slazenger who have supplied all tennis balls since 1902 – one of the longest sponsorships in sports history. Additionally, between 1935 and 2021, Robinsons fruit squash was a major sponsor of the event – another long-term relationship in the sporting world.
Strawberries and cream
The tradition of eating strawberries and cream at Wimbledon has existed for centuries, ever since it is said that King Henry VIII was served this dessert when he visited Cardinal Thomas Wolsey’s home in Hampton Court some ten miles from the tennis tournament. This royal endorsement led to the delicious combination becoming increasingly popular. In 2017, an astonishing 34,000 kilograms of British strawberries and 10,000 litres of cream were eaten by spectators at The Championships. And in 2019 the figure rose to 191,930 servings of this iconic dish.
Radio Wimbledon was once broadcast on 87.7 FM, and was also available online, until its contract ended in 2011. Presenters Sam Lloyd and Ali Barton worked alternate four-hour shifts throughout the day whilst reporters and commentators such as Gigi Salmon, Nigel Bidmead, Rupert Bell and Guy Swindells reported from the “Crow’s Nest”, a structure housing the Court 3 and 4 scoreboards with views of most outdoor courts. Guests such as Sue Mappin also appeared regularly. Moreover, Radio Wimbledon had two more low-power FM frequencies (96.3 for uninterrupted Centre Court commentary and 97.8 for No. 1 Court coverage), along with hourly news bulletins and travel information delivered through RDS.
Since 1996, Radio Wimbledon’s theme has been “Purple and Green”, composed by British composer Tony Cox.
Beginning in 2018, Wimbledon Broadcasting Services (WBS) assumed the role of official host broadcaster for the tournament, not BBC Sport.
UK (United Kingdom)
The BBC has held the broadcast rights for Wimbledon since 1937, holding the monopoly since 1969, and covering matches across its two main terrestrial channels, as well as its Red Button service. British Satellite Broadcasting also provided additional coverage for subscribers in days gone by. The BBC is contracted to cover Wimbledon until 2027. Notable commentators have included Dan Maskell – known as the “voice of tennis” until 1991 – John Barrett and current commentators Andrew Castle, John Lloyd, Tim Henman, Greg Rusedski, Samantha Smith, Mark Petchey and tennis legends such as John McEnroe, Tracy Austin, Boris Becker and Lindsay Davenport, plus David Mercer, Barry Davies, Andrew Cotter and Nick Mullins. Sue Barker hosts live coverage while Claire Balding covers highlights; Des Lynam, David Vine, John Inverdale and Harry Carpenter have all had presenting roles in the past.
The Wimbledon Finals must be broadcasted live and in full on terrestrial television (BBC Television Service, ITV, Channel 4 or Channel 5) as mandated by the government. Highlights of other rounds of the tournament should be supplied by terrestrial channels; however, viewers may watch the remaining live coverage (excluding the Finals) on satellite or cable TV.
The BBC issued an apology in response to criticism on the commentary team’s “over-talking” during its coverage of the event in 2011. In a statement, the corporation admitted that people’s opinions about commentary were subjective but accepted that “over-talking can irritate our audience”. It also assured viewers that it had strived for “the right balance” in its coverage and expressed regret if this had not been achieved. Tim Henman and John McEnroe were among the former players providing commentary.
Wimbledon made history when, on 1 July 1967, the first ever colour television broadcast in the UK was shown. This four hour live coverage of the Championships was aired on BBC Two – Europe’s first channel to broadcast regularly in colour. Unfortunately, the footage from this historic event does not exist anymore. However, the BBC archives still hold a recording of the Gentlemen’s Final which was transmitted in colour as it was the first one to do so! The tennis balls used at Wimbledon events are usually white but have been changed to yellow since 1986 for better visibility on coloured television. In 2007, transmissions were upgraded to high-definition and shown on BBC HD with continuous live streams from Centre Court and Court No. 1, accompanied by an evening highlights programme entitled ‘Today at Wimbledon’. From 2018 onward all center court matches are televised in 4K ultra-high definition.
The BBC introduces Wimbledon with the composition of Keith Mansfield, entitled “Light and Tuneful”. To mark its end, “A Sporting Occasion” is traditionally played – its closing notes often signifying the close of BBC’s One and Two transmissions. Upon conclusion of the tournament, a montage accompanied by popular music is usually used instead. During intervals throughout the tournament, NBC plays “World Champion,” another composition crafted by Mansfield.
In Ireland during the 1980s and 1990s, the tournament was broadcast on RTÉ Two. Jim Sherwin, a former RTÉ newsreader, and Matt Doyle, an Irish American professional tennis player, provided commentary while Caroline Murphy presented the programme. Despite its popularity at first, RTÉ decided to discontinue broadcasting in 1998 due to falling viewing figures and audiences watching content from the BBC instead. New coverage began 2005 from TG4 Ireland’s Irish-language broadcaster who provided live coverage in Irish with highlights shown in English during the nights.
In 2015, Wimbledon was broadcast on Setanta Sports as part of a 3-year agreement. This deal has since been taken over by Eir Sport in Ireland.
Since the 1960s, ABC has featured taped highlights from the Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Singles Final on its Wide World of Sports series. In 1969, NBC began a 43-year run covering the event, with same-day taped (and often edited) coverage of the Gentlemen’s Singles Final. This was then expanded to include live broadcasting of both Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Singles Finals in 1979. For years Americans have enjoyed NBC’s “Breakfast at Wimbledon” specials over weekends, which broadcast live – starting early due to a minimum 5 hour time difference – and running into the afternoon with observations and interviews from Bud Collins, whose tennis knowledge and famous patterned trousers were renowned among US tennis fans. Collins was fired by NBC in 2007 but quickly hired by ESPN to cover The Championships for American audiences. Moreover, Dick Enberg served as NBC’s primary host for many years.
From 1975 to 1999, HBO served as the weekday host of Wimbledon coverage. Prominent presenters included Jim Lampley, Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, John Lloyd and Barry MacKay. In 2003, ESPN took over as the cable-television partner.
The AELTC became increasingly dissatisfied with NBC’s practices of not starting its quarterfinal and semifinal coverage until Today had finished airing at 10 a.m. local time, as well as only offering live programming to the Eastern Time Zone and relying on tape-delay in other areas. They would often take the highest-profile matches and delay broadcast them regardless of other events happening simultaneously, leading to a memorable incident in 2009 when ESPN2’s coverage of the Tommy Haas–Novak Djokovic quarterfinal was cut off nationally due to it going past 10 a.m. Eastern, after which NBC only aired it on tape-delay once they had shown the Ivo Karlović–Roger Federer quarterfinal from beginning to end. Starting with the 2012 tournament, coverage moved to ESPN and ESPN2, making it the second major tennis championship (after the Australian Open) where live broadcasting is exclusively available via pay television. Spanish-speaking viewers can watch on ESPN Deportes. The finals will also be taped and delayed for airing on ABC. On 9 July 2021, ESPN and AELTC announced an extended agreement that will run 12 years from 2024 till 2035 – this includes showing play from the middle weekend on ABC.
Taped coverage of the world feed, which is aired in primetime and late-night hours, can be found on Tennis Channel and labeled as Wimbledon Primetime.
Wimbledon is only broadcast in Canada by TSN and RDS, jointly owned by Bell Media and ESPN. Before 2012, CBC Television and SRC were the main broadcaster of the tournament for Canadians. They gave people live coverage of it even before “Breakfast at Wimbledon” managed to start doing so. As Canada is at least four hours away from its other Commonwealth realm, the broadcast was especially important.
Since the early 1960s, the Televisa Network in Mexico has been broadcasting Wimbledon. Now, most weekend matches are shown on Canal 5 and weekday games on the Televisa Deportes Network. Since Mexico is six hours behind the U.K., a few Canals 5 affiliates air weekend matches as their opening programs after sign-on. Although colour television was introduced to Mexico in 1962, it wasn’t until 1967, when it was also available in the U.K., that Wimbledon began airing in colour in Mexico.
In Latin America, most of the Grand Slam tournaments are broadcast on ESPN. However, in Brazil, SporTV has exclusive rights to Wimbledon.
Various European countries broadcast Wimbledon live on Eurosport 1, Eurosport 2 and the Eurosport Player. However, a few exceptions exist. For example, in Denmark TV2 holds the rights until 2022, while Sky Sport and SuperTennis do so in Italy. In the Netherlands, Center Court is seen on Eurosport 1 while all other courts are featured on the Eurosport Player with Court One being covered on Ziggo Sport/Ziggo Sport Select. Sky Sport has held exclusive rights to televise Wimbledon in Germany since 2007 and extended its contract for Austria, Germany and Switzerland in December 2018 through 2022.
For four decades, the Nine Network broadcasted Wimbledon in Australia. Unfortunately, their viewership dropped and they opted to spend the money saved on different sports coverage. In April 2011, Seven Network and its auxiliary channel 7Two took up the mantle. Simultaneously, Fox Sports Australia broadcasted the event too. This year, 2021, Nine Network re-entered with free-to-air coverage. India and its neighboring countries can watch it on Star Sports while PTV Sports covers Pakistan’s audiences.
Coverage is available free-to-air in New Zealand through TVNZ One, airing each night at 11 pm (midday London time). In 2017 TVNZ Duke – an additional channel also available free-to-air – provided an alternative to the main feed, featuring matches on outer courts with New Zealand players.
Fox Sports Asia held broadcasting rights in Southeast Asia from 1992 until 2021, when the network closed down. SPOTV now has the exclusive broadcast rights in this region, excluding Vietnam. SKTV (Sports 4) will begin airing broadcasts across Vietnam starting in 2023.
Matches can usually be seen on betting websites or other streaming services online, as television cameras capture the action on almost all courts.
Trophies and prize money
Winning the Gentlemen’s Singles champion is an esteemed accomplishment, crowned with a prestigious silver gilt cup, towering to 18.5 inches or approximately 47 cm and measuring 7.5 inches (or 19 cm) in diameter. This trophy has had a long tradition, presented since 1887 and inscribed with the words: “All England Lawn Tennis Club Single Handed Championship of the World”. The original belongs to the All-England Club for their museum – the winner gets a three-quarter size replica engraved with names of all past victors, which stands 13.5 inches (or 34 cm) tall.
The Ladies’ Singles champion is awarded a sterling silver salver, famously known as the “Venus Rosewater Dish” or just the “Rosewater Dish”. Its 18.75 inches (about 48 cm) diameter displays figures from mythology. The All-England Club keeps the original in their museum, while all past Champions have their names inscribed on a miniature replica – 8 inches from 1949 to 2006 and 13.5 inches since 2007.
The All-England Club is the proud recipient of several silver cups as awards for the winners of the Gentlemen’s Doubles, Ladies’ Doubles, and Mixed Doubles events. Unlike other Grand Slam tournaments, each member of the triumphant Doubles pair receives a trophy. The Gentlemen’s Doubles silver challenge cup was a donation from the Oxford University Lawn Tennis Club, which arrived in 1884. The Duchess of Kent presented the Ladies’ Doubles Trophy—a silver cup and cover referred to as The Duchess of Kent Challenge Cup—in 1949. Sydney Smith’s family bequeathed to the Club a silver challenge cup and cover in honor of his two Wimbledon doubles titles as the prize for Mixed Doubles victors.
The second-place finishers in each event are awarded an engraved silver plate, which is typically given out by the All-England Club’s President, The Duke of Kent.
Prize money was first offered in 1968, the year when professional players were allowed to participate in the Championships. The total prize amounted to £26,150; the victor of the men’s title collected £2,000 and the champion of the women’s singles receiving £750. If we measure this money according to 2018 value that would be equal to £34,600. Wimbledon and French Open were the last Grand Slam tournaments to provide unequal reward for male and female competitors in 2007.
In 2009, the total prize money awarded amounted to £12,500,000. Subsequently, this figure saw an increase of 13.3 percent in 2008 with the singles champions receiving £850,000 each. The trend continued in 2010 when the overall prize money rose to £13,725,000 and the singles champions were given £1,000,000 each. In 2011 alone there was a further 6.4% hike resulting in a total amount of £14,600,000 being offered; the singles champions both male and female received a 10% raise of their reward at £1,100,000. Last year saw another increase of 10%, totalling up to £16,060,000 for 2012 with particular focus on early round losers who gained greater percentage increases as compared to those losing in later rounds due to active lobbying from ATP Player Council member Sergiy Stakhovsky (at that time ranked 68th), as well as public opinion voiced by “Big Four” Tomas Djokovic, Roger Federer , Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal .
In 2013, the total prize money was raised by around 40%, from £22,560,000 to £25,000,000. This meant that the losers in the singles rounds of the tournament saw an impressive 62% increase in their payouts while those competing in doubles received a 22% increase. The qualifying participants’ reward rose by 41%. Sergiy Stakhovsky of the ATP Player Council championed this move. By 2015, the Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Singles winners received a prize money amount of £1,880,000 each and for the Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Doubles winners each pair were presented with £340,000. For Mixed Doubles players it was £100,000 per pair awarded. The following year saw a boost to these figures; 2016 Wimbledon Championships revealed first time champions for Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Singles who walked away with a hefty sum of £2,000,000 each while £350,000 was handed out to those winning in either of the male or female doubles competitions; for Mixed Doubles champions it was still at £100,00 per pair. All in all there was an increase from 2014’s total prize money amount of £25 million to 2016’s satisfactory
In 2016, the total prize money of £28,100,000 was 5% higher than the prize money allocated in 2015.
In 2017, the total prize money jumped up to £31,600,000 – a 12.5% rise from the previous year. The Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Singles Champions were awarded a 10% raise to £2.2 million apiece, in comparison to the £2.0 million presented in 2016. By 2019, the figure had soared further to £38,000,000.
In 2022, the tournament saw its first full capacity crowd since 2019, as total prize money soared by 15.23% to a record £40,350,000. The Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Singles Champions were rewarded with £2,000,000 each – a 17.65 % rise from 2021.