Even if you’re not a tennis fan, or even a great lover of sports, it’s unlikely that you’ve never heard of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships.
As one of the most sought after and long-standing tennis Grand Slam competitions in the world today, winning at Wimbledon is the dream of every racket-wielding sportsman or woman. Athletes from all over the world are pitted against each other, all at the peak of their physical and mental game. As incredible as it is to play, it is also an amazing event to watch.
Here is everything that you need to know about the Wimbledon Tennis Championships.
Then & Now
The Wimbledon Championship originated from The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, a private club founded all the way back in 1868. After only a few years, the popularity of the club’s early tennis competitions brought in hundreds of paying viewers. The lawns at their ground first heralded today’s ‘Centre Court’; this is the showpiece where the main court is surrounded by the other courts. Before 1922, the champion from the previous year’s tournament only had to play in the final against whoever achieved enough victories to reach their challenge!
In 1937, history was made when the Championship was seen on British Television for the first time.
Ever since the grainy pictures first appeared, the sport has boomed, and global fame has now made Wimbledon a world-wide sensation. With new renovation and improvement to the courts, thousands of people can now watch under retractable roofs on Centre Court. No more rain stopping play for so long! Even the British Royal Family has their special box at Centre Court, and are in regular attendance at the games.
And of course, it wouldn’t be right to omit to mention the continued tradition of British strawberries and cream before moving on; the summer fruit dish goes hand in hand with Wimbledon fever, and is enjoyed by people watching at the grounds and via television around the globe.
Two Wonderful Weeks
The tournament currently begins between 20-26th of June, on a Monday. From then, 13 days of incredible sportsmanship and prowess is displayed, and skills are tested right up to the second weekend when the finals are held. There are many events held at Wimbledon over these two weeks. They range in age, gender, physical and mental ability, but the five main events attract the most viewers and prize money. 128 players compete in the singles tournaments to make it to the Gentlemen’s or Ladies final. There are then 64 teams in each of the Gentlemen’s, Ladies and Mixed Doubles competitions for a chance at the silverware.
In both of the Gentlemen’s games, the sets are played to the best of five whilst all others are played to the best of three. If scores are tied 6-6 in any game except the fifth or third, respectively, the tie-break games are played, and players can only achieve victory with a two point lead! Unfortunately, if you lose more than a couple of points, you’re eliminated. That’s what makes a Grand Slam so cruel, and yet so rewarding for those who come through the gauntlet!
Players and Prizes
So how do you enter the Wimbledon Grand Slam as a competing athlete? Well, players are ‘seeded’ or entered into the competition based on their international ranking. This is basically how well they have played against other ranked players, and their position moves based on wins and losses. Each year though, the committee will select a wild card player to allow in, even though they don’t qualify by rank, just to make things interesting! Back in 2001, a wild card player actually won the Gentlemen’s Singles Championship.
Sporting fame and your name in the history books isn’t the only incentive for entering. From the first round losers receiving a modest £14,500, the prize money roughly doubles at each climb in position to reach a whopping £1,150,000 for the winner, and half that for the losing finalist!
A Part of the Magic
If your imagination has been captured, and your excitement is building for this year’s incredible event, then you may want to get yourself a ticket. Since the demand is incredibly high, most centre and show court tickets are available from the start of the year via a public ballot.
Debenture tickets are available for fans who invest in the club, and these can be bought and sold between fans and the public too. However, since the seats are good, and most people don’t get a chance to buy them, they tend to reach a very expensive price. If you didn’t get access via the public ballot and want to get a Centre Court Debenture seat from 2011-2015, be prepared to pay in the tens of thousands. That being said, Wimbledon is still the only Grand Slam in the world where fans who haven’t got tickets can still queue up and get a great seat on a main court. This has led to many queuing overnight and has become a part of the excitement that is the Wimbledon experience. Don’t forget your sleeping bag!
With amazing attendance, breath-taking performances and sporting triumphs that will go down in history, the Wimbledon Tennis Championship really could be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Whether you’re playing, watching from home, or you’re lucky enough to be watching from the edge of your court-side seat, now you know everything you need to know about what is arguably the world’s greatest Grand Slam.