History Of Wimbledon And Its Champions


The Wimbledon tournament is coming. I believe everyone should know at least brief history of Wimbledon and its champions. This essay on Wimbledon history is for you to refresh your knowledge or to make you acquainted with the tournament. So read and enjoy.

Wimbledon history: from sheep and pineapple to leggings and strawberries

More than a hundred years ago participants had to pay one guinea, today they are paid millions of pounds. At the root of the most prestigious tennis tournament “The Grand Slam” – Wimbledon – there was a soldier Walter Wingfield. In 1874 he took the game outside the building on the grass lawn to improve people’s health outdoors and at the same time started to sell necessary equipment to play tennis. The idea quickly became popular and three years later they held Wimbledon.

However, the first tournament in 1877 was organized to gather some money for cricket equipment, which was not enough at the All England Cricket Club. One year later the Club changed its name to lawn tennis and cricket club, and 5 years late the word “cricket” was completely removed from the club name. Although in 1899 it was returned.

They say that strange system of points counting in a game (15, 30, 40) is developed by Wingfield and is connected with his military past. At different decks of the ship there were cannons of different calibers: on the upper deck – 15, on the middle – 30, and on the lower – 40. However, it is just a guess.

An announcement about the first Wimbledon was given in The Field magazine; there were only 22 men participants who paid one guinea fee. Among the conditions there were shoes without heels and a personal racket. The organizers gave 20 places for the spectators, but more than 200 people came to see the final.

Today tickets for Wimbledon are sold long before the start of the tournament, and the cheapest tickets costs 20 pounds. The prize fund this year is 26,75 million pounds, and the main draw participants are 128 people in singles in both men and women. By the way, The United Kingdom waited for its champion for 77 years remembering nostalgically the last triumph of Fred Perry in 1936. Only in 2013 Andy Murray finally won the tournament.

Equipment: from the gut to nylon

The Wingfield’s first sets of tennis equipment were sold before the debut Wimbledon. Balls, net, pegs, platters for the courts and the instruction book cost 5 guineas (about 415 pounds today). The rackets were made of wood, the balls were rubber, grey or red. In a couple of years J. M. Heathcote suggested to wrap the balls in white flannel, because the rebound was better.

The balls were standardized in 1972. They were bright yellow with a white stripe. Thus they were better seen on TV. The balls are tested by dropping them from a height of 254 centimeters. Acceptable height of rebound is 135-147 cm.

In 1960s the Wilson Company started to produce steel rackets, and in 1970s steel was replaced with aluminum. In 1980s there was graphite. It weights less but allows to hit the ball harder. Today it is used in the alloy with titanium, for example. Tennis “head” size is about 635 sq. cm and its weight is about 300-400 grams.

Now the strings for rackets are made of nylon, polyester, Kevlar. Professionals, for example Federer, prefer natural materials, such as beef intestine.

Ladies: no longer second grade

All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club for several times politely rejected the application for women participation in the Wimbledon. In 1884 it finally gave up under condition that ladies would start their matches only after men. Also women had to pay smaller fee – 10 shillings and six pence (about 42 pounds). There were 13 ladies participants, and the first winner was Maud Watson. She got a salad-bowl as the prize.

Today, women's money prize is equal to men’s. For example, last year winner Petra Kvitova earned 1,76 million pounds, as well as Novak Djokovic. However, today women play their final a day earlier, so that people could enjoy the most important male match.

Attire: from furs to shorts

Women used to play in dresses with tight corsets and high collars, wearing hats, heels and even furs. Men also used to wear furs, also wide pants, a shirt and a thick pullover. There was an accident with May Sutton in 1905. For convenience’ sake she wore her father's shirt and rolled up her sleeves. At that time it was forbidden to show your wrists on a court.

In 1920s Suzanne Lenglen freed women from corsets, long heavy skirts and hats. At the same time tennis player Rene Lacoste launched his own clothing line, he started making pullovers of fine knitwear. In 1940s men changed trousers for shorts and shortened the sleeves on the shirts. Tennis players got absolute freedom after the War only.

Today women wear short dresses, leggings and shorts, and men wear T-shirts and shorts of different lengths. A mixture of synthetic and natural fibers absorbs moisture and dries quickly.

Traditions: kings and strawberry

Traditions are the most important thing on the grass “slam”. Royal family visits the tournament since 1907. In 1922 Mary of Teck commanded to build the royal lodge. Now Royal Lodge has 74 seats. There can get monarchs and heads of states of other countries, especially important sponsors and media.

Since 1877 during the tournament people eat strawberry and cream. The idea is that this product, as well as Wimbledon itself, symbolized the arrival of summer. Last year, for example, spectators ate 28 tones of strawberry and 7000 liters of cream. One portion costs 2,5 pounds.

Courts: 8mm grass – what was left after sheep

In 1877 there was no central court. All 12 playgrounds were used equally. The size was 26 yards (23,8 meters) in length and 9 (8,23 m) wide, a net was stretched at a height of 3 feet (0,9 m). The sizes remain the same today.

The height of the grass was 8 mm. Sheep grazed the grass when they were pastured on the lawns in the 19th century.

For the first time the main court was formed in 1881, when two middle courts in the central raw were united. The tribune appeared at the same time. The roominess was about 3500 seats, now it is 15000 seats.

The grass is grown on a special farm in Yorkshire, technology is kept secret. The grass is still cut to traditional 8mm.

Cups: remained unchanged

All England Club in 1883 decided that the trophy would not be the property of the winner; it would be kept at the Museum of Wimbledon. The top of the cup is decorated with a pineapple. Even in the museum they do not really know, why this fruit is placed there. Historians suggest this fact refers to the times when captains of ships returning home used to bring a pineapple as a gift.

6 years ago on the men's gilded cup (its size 47 cm high and 19 cm in diameter) there was space for the names of the winners. That is why a silver pedestal was added to the cup. The first name written there was the name of Roger Federer.

Ladies since 1886 receive silver dish called Rosewater. It was widely used in the 19th century to rinse hands in rose water. The decoration of the prize is connected not with tennis, but Greek mythology. There is Sophrosyne (moderation) in the centre, as one of the main virtues, and on the edges there is the goddess Minerva, patroness of the arts.

Wimbledon records

The Organizing Committee of Wimbledon has its own records fixation department. Here are the most significant records.

Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and William Renshaw have the greatest number of wins in the tournament among men, they have 7 triumphs in the finals. Among women the record holder is Martina Navratilova is, she has 9 wins. She also holds the record of the oldest winner of the tournament. She was 46 years and 264 days old when she won the tournament.

The youngest winner of the tournament is the German Boris Becker. He won the title he was 17 years and 227 days old. Among women the winner is Martina Hingis (15 years and 282 days).

The shortest finals took place in 1984 between American John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors: its duration was 1 hour and 20 minutes, the score 6-1, 6-1, 6-2.

The longest finals took place in 2008 between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. It lasted for 4 hours and 48 minutes. The match ended with a score 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 9-7.

The longest match in the history of the tournament according to the “new rules” (when time breaks were allowed) belongs to a pair of John Isner – Mahut Nicolas. In 2010 American and French were playinf for 3 days, in general they spent 11 hours and 5 minutes, they played 183 games of tennis and the last fifth game ended with an incredible score of 70-68 in favor of Iznera.

The first hero: Spencer William Gore (1850—1906)

Spencer William Gore was born in Wimbledon and since early childhood was fond of cricket. He lived not far from All England Cricket Club. When the first tennis tournament was organized he decided to participate just for fun. Having paid one guinea fee he won. After the win Gore said: “This kind of sport will never be popular”.

The last hero: Novak Djokovic (1987)

The current winner of Wimbledon in his career earned $ 79,4 million, only Roger Federer earned more – $ 91 million. Djokovic has 53 titles, 8 of them are “Slam”. He also got “bronze” at the Olympic Games in 2008. Last year when Djokovic won his second Wimbledon title, the first thing he did was that he ate grass off the court.

This Wimbledon history essay is devoted to the world famous tournament, and I hope you really enjoyed it. For more great essays visit Livecustomwriting.com. Here you can order an essay on any topic and get qualified help in essay writing from our team of professional writers.