WIMBLEDON Wimbledon is viewed by most people to be the world’s premier tennis tournament. It takes place annually over a two week period starting in June. It always starts six weeks before the first Monday in August. The tournament is the only one of the four Grand Slam events to be played on grass. It is the third of the four Grand Slam events to be played taking place after the Australian Open and before the US Open.
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HISTORY 1877 First event took place at a ground in Worple Road in Wimbledon and consisted of only a men’s singles competition.
1884 Ladies’ singles and men’s doubles were added.
1887 The current men’s singles trophy (a silver cup) was awarded for the first time.
1913 Ladies’ doubles and mixed doubles were added.
1922 The championships took place for the first time at a ground near Church Road where they have remained ever since.
1936 British player Fred Perry won the men’s singles championship and no British player has won since.
1968 Saw the advent of the open era in tennis, previously Wimbledon had only been contested by top ranked amateurs.
1977 British player Virginia Wade won the ladies’ singles and no British player has won since.
2001 Men’s singles winner Goran Ivanisevic was the first player admitted as “wild card” to win the men’s singles.
FORMAT Men’s singles are the best of five sets and the ladies’ singles is the best of three sets. It is a knockout competition with the winner of each match progressing to the next round. 128 players take part in each of the singles events with admission being based mainly on international rankings. A few players without a high enough international ranking are admitted as “wild cards”. Wild cards are given on the basis that they will stimulate public interest in the competition. A qualifying competition is also held one week before Wimbledon for those without a high enough ranking. The Wimbledon committee seeds 32 players in each of the singles events.
PRIZES The men’s singles champion wins a silver gilt cup 18.5 inches high and 7.5 inches in diameter. The ladies’ singles champion receives a sterling silver salver which is 18.75 inches in diameter and is known as the “Venus Rosewater Dish”. The 2005 winner of the men’s singles received £630,000 and the ladies’ singles winner £600,000.
RECORDS Winner of the most men’s singles championships is William Renshaw and Pete Sampras who have both won 7 times. Winner of the most ladies’ singles championships is Martina Navratilova with 9 wins.
The middle Sunday during the championships is usually a rest day unless there is a backlog of matches due to rain. In 1991, 1997 and 2004 play has taken place on this Sunday and has been called a “People’s Sunday” with unreserved cheap tickets being available.
John McEnroe in 1977 went further than any qualifier when he reached the semi-finals.
Boris Becker in 1985 and Goran Ivanisevic in 2001 are the only two unseeded players to have won the men’s singles.
No unseeded player has ever won the Ladies’ singles, the lowest seed to win was number 14 seed Venus Williams who won in 2005.
19 courts are used at Wimbledon.
Centre Court and No. 1 court are only ever used during Wimbledon fortnight.
The other three grand slam events were all previously played on grass; the French Open switched to red clay in 1928, US Open moved to a hard surface in 1975 and the Australian Open was last to change in 1975.
Centre Court has a capacity of nearly 14,000 people, No. 1 court 11,000 and No.2 court 3,000.
A retractable roof is planned for the Centre Court in 2009.
A giant television screen at the northern end of Wimbledon on a grass hill officially known as Aorangi Park broadcasts important matches, this has over recent years been daubed “Henman Hill” due to the large gathering of fans who watch Tim’s annual efforts.
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