Wimbledon, The Tournament of Champions


The Wimbledon Championships, commonly known simply as Wimbledon, is the oldest tennis tournament in the world and is widely regarded as the most prestigious. It has been held at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London, since 1877 and has been played on outdoor grass courts, with retractable roofs over the two main courts since 2019.

Wimbledon is one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, the others being the Australian, French, and US Open. Wimbledon is the only major still played on grass, the traditional tennis playing surface. Also, it is the only Grand Slam that retains a night-time curfew, though matches can continue until 11.00 pm under the lights.

The tournament traditionally takes place over two weeks in late June and early July, starting on the last Monday in June and culminating with the Ladies and Gentlemen’s Singles Finals, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at the end of the second week. Five major events are held each year, with other junior and invitational competitions also taking place. In 2009, Wimbledon’s Centre Court was fitted with a retractable roof to lessen the loss of playing time due to rain. A roof was operational over No. 1 Court from 2019,  when several other improvements were made, including adding cushioned seating, a table, and ten independently operable cameras per Court to capture the games.

The famous logotype of The Championships.

Wimbledon traditions include a strict all-white dress code for competitors and royal patronage. Strawberries and cream are traditionally consumed at the tournament. Unlike other games, advertising is minimal and low-key from official suppliers such as Slazenger and Rolex. The relationship with Slazenger is the world’s longest-running sporting sponsorship, providing balls for the tournament since 1902.

Aerial shot of the courts at Wimbledon.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 Wimbledon was canceled, the first cancellation of the tournament since World War II. The rescheduled 134th edition was staged from 28 June 2021 to 11 July 2021, following the 2020 cancellation. The 135th edition was played between 27 June 2022 and 10 July 2022, and regularly scheduled play occurred in the middle of Sunday for the first time. It marks the centenary of the inaugural championships staged at the Centre Court. The ATP, ITF, and WTA did not award ranking points for the 2022 tournament due to controversy over the tournament excluding players representing Russia and Belarus.

The 2023 Wimbledon Championships will be the 136th staging and run from 3 July 2023 to 16 July 2023, and it will be the first event of King Charles III since the death of the former patron, Queen Elizabeth II, on 8 September 2022.


The first tournament was in 1877.


The inaugural Championships are held at the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club, Worple Road, Wimbledon, with an entry of 22 men attracted by an announcement in The Field. A crowd of 200 watches Spencer Gore become the first Champion.

The First Ladies’ Championship in 1884.


With the Gentlemen’s Singles swiftly proving a success, the Championships expanded in 1884 to include competitions for Men’s Doubles and Ladies’ Singles. Maud Watson beats her sister Lilian to become the first female Champion. Two dominant players emerge, Lottie Dod in the ladies’ singles and William Renshaw in the gentlemen’s. By now, crowds are up to 3,000.

Reggie and Laurie Doherty Brothers.


The Doherty brothers, Reggie and Laurie, come to the fore, winning nine singles and eight doubles titles on either side of the turn of the century. Non-Championship ladies’ doubles and mixed doubles events are added.

May Sutton plays tennis.


May Sutton became the first overseas Champion, the American winning the ladies’ singles in 1905. Two years later, Norman Brookes of Australia became the first foreign male Champion. Britons were successful at the 1908 Olympics, held at Wimbledon, with Major Ritchie and Dorothea Lambert Chambers winning gold. 

Tony Wilding.


In 1913 Championship status was accorded to the ladies and mixed doubles, but the outbreak of war forced the loss of four years’ Championships. New Zealander Tony Wilding won four titles before hostilities but was killed on the Western Front in 1915.


Significant developments were made for the Championships in 1922 with the move from Worple Road to Church Road and the abolition of the Challenge Round. On Court, the French dominated, with the ‘four musketeers’ winning most of the men’s titles and Suzanne Lenglen recording a clean sweep of ladies, ladies’ doubles, and mixed doubles Championships thrice. However, in 1925 an unfortunate mix-up which meant she kept royalty waiting, led to her never playing at Wimbledon again. Her male compatriots continued with Henri Cochet’s 1927 final victory against Jean Borotra, one for the ages. Rene Lacoste and Jacques Brugnon made up the quartet. In 1926 the future King played in the gentlemen’s doubles.

The American tennis stars Miss Alice Marble and Miss Kathryn Winthrop look at the BBC camera installed on Center Court for the first time at the Wimbledon Championships, held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in 1937.


Fred Perry won a trio of Championships, the first in 1934, ending a quarter-century without a home winner. Perry was lost to the professional circuit before BBC television began their broadcasts from the courts in 1937, but they did capture Dorothy Round’s third title. She was eclipsed by the leading female player of the decade, Helen Wills Moody, who won eight titles from 1927-38.

A bomb hit the center court in 1940.


The return of world war meant there were no Wimbledon Championships until 1946, and when they did resume, there were crowd restrictions on Centre Court due to damage caused by a bomb striking the roof in 1940. On Court, the risqué clothing worn by Gussie Moran seized attention.


Maureen’ little Mo’ Connolly won a treble of successive Championships, the first as a teenager. She looked like she was dominating the decade, only for a broken leg suffered in a riding accident to end her meteoric career prematurely. In her absence, Althea Gibson became, in 1957, the first black player to win a singles title at Wimbledon. In the men’s competition Lew Hoad, in 1956, signaled the start of a long period of Australian hegemony, winning the first of 13 gentlemen’s titles claimed by the nation in 16 years.

Rod Lever, 1962.


In 1961, Angela Mortimer defeated Christine Truman in the first all-British singles final since 1914. In 1969 Ann Jones provided another home winner. Three ladies’ game giants, Margaret Smith (later Court), Maria Bueno, and Billie-Jean King, won the Championships. The men from Down Under, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, and John Newcombe, reigned supreme in the gentlemen’s singles, even after Wimbledon went Open in 1968.

Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert celebrated their wins in 1974.


Color television arrived in time to catch a decade of drama with Bjorn Borg, Ilie Nastase, Jimmy Connors, and John McEnroe, bringing a new audience to the game. Arthur Ashe became the first black male winner, and Evonne Goolagong became the first Australian Aboriginal Champion.

Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova emerged in the female game, but erstwhile Champion Billie-Jean King ended the decade, partnering Navratilova to ladies’ doubles success to claim a record 20th title. Home audiences were delighted by Virginia Wade’s 1977 triumph in front of Queen Elizabeth II in the latter’s silver jubilee year. This was also Wimbledon’s Centenary, a landmark celebrated by the opening of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum.

Björn Borg at Wimbledon in 1981.


John McEnroe’s epic duels with Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, and Wimbledon officials took the headlines in the early 80s, then teenage tyro Boris Becker exploded into view. Another German, Steffi Graf, challenged the established order in the ladies’ singles ending the six-year reign of Martina Navratilova. Anne White’s bodysuit caught the eye of the outside courts, but the biggest shock was a lightning strike on Centre Court in 1985.

Jana Novotna (CZE) is celebrating her victory at The Championships 1998.


Steffi Graf and Pete Sampras reigned on the lawns of SW19, taking more than half the titles on offer, but among those that got away, no winner was more popular than Jana Novotna in 1998. The Czech’s win came a year after she had lost to 16-year-old Martina Hingis and five years after she had cried on the shoulder of the Duchess of Kent, having lost after being on the brink of victory against Graf. Middle Sunday was required for play for the first time, an experiment swiftly repeated.

Venus Williams (USA) at The Championships 2000.


Two sisters from the improbable tennis background of the public courts of south-central Los Angeles, Serena, and Venus Williams, became the Queens of Centre Court. They won eight of the ten finals, on four occasions beating each other, and benefited from 2007 from the decision to pay equal prize money to men and women. After wild card Goran Ivanisevic gained a famous and unexpected victory, the men’s trophy was rarely out of Roger Federer’s hands.

Andy Murray, 2016.


Finally, after 77 years, another British winner, the Scot Andy Murray, defeated Novak Djokovic in 2013. Murray, beaten in 2012 by Roger Federer, would triumph again in 2016. He also took gold in the 2012 Olympics, held at Wimbledon, defeating Federer in the men’s event, then winning silver in the doubles with Laura Robson. Murray, Federer, Djokovic, and the fourth member of the Big Four, Rafael Nadal, beat all the men’s titles, usually defeating one of the others in the final. Serena Williams was dominant in the ladies’, adding another four Championships. On Court 18 in 2010, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut played the longest tennis match, 11 hours and five minutes, before the American triumphed 70-68 in the fifth set.

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