How did the English come up with the idea of playing tennis at Wimbledon?
All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Cluborganized on July 9th, 1877 the first tennis tour at Wimbledon which was, at the time, a suburb outside London. The first Wimbledon championship had only one central event:men’s singles. 21 amateurs took part in the first open air tennis championship. The winner received a prize of almost 25 guineas.
The game of tennis first appeared in France in 13thcentury under the name jeu de paume. Later on, a type of game played on the inside with racket and ball appeared which became known as real or “regal” tennis. Real tennis immediately became “lawn tennis” and was an outdoors sport which was took place on the grass. At the end of 19thcentury, it became very popular.
The First Championship of Real Tennis
All England Club was founded in 1868 on a lawn outside London. Initially, the club was built to promote cricket, another “lawn” sport, however, the growing popularity of tennis determined the founders to include it among the club’s services. In 1877, All England Club published an announcement in the weekly sports magazine “The Field”:“All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon, organizes an open field meeting for all amateurs. On Monday, July 9thand the following days. The entrance fee is 1 pound, 1 shilling.”
For 25 guineas, All English Clubbought a trophy and set down the formal rules for tennis:they established the tennis court of 23, 7 m long and 8, 2 m wide;adapted the scoring method of real tennis according to how the clock was read (15:30, 40, game);set the rule that the first who would win six games wins a set and allowed the server a fault. The majority of these rules belonged to a member of the club, Dr. Henry Jones and they laid the foundation to the modern tennis norms.
22 men were on the list, yet only 21 showed up on July 9th, on the first day of games. The first 11 winners were reduced to 6 the following day and then to 3. The semi-finals were organized on July 12th, yet the tour was suspended so as to let Eton and Harrow play their cricket game on the Wimbledon lawn. The tennis final was supposed to take place on July 16th, yet it was cancelled, because of the rain, weather which would become very common for Wimbledon. It finally took place on July 19thwhen an audience of 200 paid a shilling to see William Marshall and W. Spencer Gore play the tennis finale. It only lasted for 48 minutes when the 27-year-old Gore managed to dominate Marshall and finally won with a score of 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.Yet, Gore lost the second Wimbledon championship in 1878 when his twisted way of playing failed in front of his opponent’s – Frank Hadow-lob.
The Wimbledon Championship Conquers the World
In 1884, the women’s single tournament was introduced with Maud Watson winning the first championship. Also, for the first time, in 1884, Wimbledon hosted the men’s double game after Oxford did so until then. In 1913 the women’s double and double mixt were introduced. In the 1900s, Wimbledon became an international championship from a national one, thus enabling All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Clubto move to a bigger stadium on the Church Road. In the 1950s, many tennis players would become known as professionals, while Wimbledon tried to keep its amateur character. Yet, in 1968, Wimbledon accepted pro players again and thus, it rapidly became the greatest world tennis championship.
The Wimbledon championship is the only important tennis tournament which is still played on the grass and takes place yearly at the end of June and the beginning of July.