With all due respect to other Grand Slam tennis venues, the tournament that captures the most attention around the globe is known by a single word: Wimbledon.
The first Wimbledon Championship was played in 1877. The winner, from an entry field of 22 players, won approximately 12 guineas - in those days, probably enough money to buy a lifetime supply of wooden tennis racquets.
Wimbledon Rod Laver
Wimbledon became an “open” championship, allowing both amateur and professional
tennis players to compete in the same tournament. Until this point, only
amateurs could compete in Grand Slam events. Australian legend Rod Laver (pictured)
won his third Wimbledon title, his first as a professional, while Billie Jean
King won the women’s title for the third year running.
Wimbledon Virginia W wins
The last British player to win “The Championships” was Virginia Wade in 1977, the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Could Britain be as fortunate in the year of the Golden Jubilee? Come on, Andy Murray!
Wimbledon Borg vs. McEnroe
One of the most famous tennis rivalries in history pitted Bjorn Borg against John McEnroe. Borg won his fifth consecutive Wimbledon final in 1980, beating McEnroe in what is regarded as one of the best tennis matches ever. In 1981, McEnroe took revenge and beat Borg in the final but was most famous for shouting “You cannot be serious?!” and “Didn’t you see the chalk dust?”
Wimbledon Martina wins again
Martina Navratilova won her ninth title in 1990 and became the most successful women’s Wimbledon player ever, beating fellow American Zina Garrison in straight sets.
Wimbledon people's Sunday
Wimbledon’s schedule over a two-week period dictates that the middle Sunday is a rest day. Three Sundays have seen matches due to weather problems early in the week — in 1991, 1997 and 2004. These were nicknamed “People’s Sunday”: Since no advance tickets for those days were sold, all tickets were available on a first-come, first-serve basis. In 2004, Brit Tim Henman declared that every year should have a “People’s Sunday” after a carnival-like atmosphere cheered him to victory.
Wimbledon Cliff Richard
In 1996, during a rainy afternoon on Centre Court, your Auntie’s favourite British crooner Sir Cliff Richard (think Michael Bublé in 30 years), a frequent Wimbledon attendee, helped pass the time with an impromptu sing-along, including “Singing in the Rain.” While the teenagers cringed, the adults managed to forget their sodden wool jumpers for half an hour or so.
Speaking of best matches ever, Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal (pictured) in 2008 is up there with the Borg-McEnroe final. At 9:15 p.m., in near darkness, Nadal won his first Wimbledon final, ending Federer’s streak of five straight titles. It was an epic battle, complete with two rain delays and a seesaw score that gripped the Centre-Court crowd.
Wimbledon new roof
In 2009, a new retractable roof was unveiled over Centre Court. The schedule of Wimbledon is somewhat at the mercy of the infamous British summer weather, so the roof does come in handy to balance possible logjams. Ironically, if memory serves, 2009 saw a perfect two-week heat wave and the roof wasn’t needed.
Wimbledon longest match
The marathon game: John Isner vs. Nicolas Mahut. In 2010, Wimbledon witnessed the longest-ever tennis match, lasting just over 11 hours over the course of three days. Isner won the final set (70-68) to prevail, but both players would go down in history for sharing a record that may never be broken.
(Photos: Getty Images)