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How Wimbledon became world’s most glamorous tennis tournament


Across continents , the Wimbledon tournament is much known; and the 2016 edition  has drawn even more attention with Serena Williams gunning  for her seventh trophy.

If you think it started out with these glamour and attention on July 9, 1877, when the all England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club began  its first lawn tennis tournament at Wimbledon, then you’re wrong.

At the first Wimbledon, in 1877, only 21 amateurs were present, out of the 22 that had registered to compete in the Gentlemen’s Singles tournament where the winner was awarded a 25-guinea trophy.

What has even turned out to become a sport that is celebrated worldwide originated in the 13th-century. It was called “game of the palm” or French handball game – “jeu de paume”. The real tennis grew into lawn tennis, which was played outside on grass and enjoyed a surge of popularity in the late 19th century with even more attention in recent time.

The All England Club had in 1877, published an announcement in the weekly sporting magazine – The Field that read: “The All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon, propose [sic] to hold a lawn tennis meeting open to all amateurs, on Monday, July 9, and following days. Entrance fee, one pound, one shilling.” Entrance fee of only one pound, one shilling!

After many reschedules, Harrovian Spencer Gore won the title and lost it to Frank Hadow at the second Wimbledon in 1878.

The ladies were not given a chance until seven years later in 1884, with Maud Watson winning the first Wimbledon championship of the Lady’s Singles.

Fast forward to the early 1900s, Wimbledon became recognized around the world from just an England game. In 1922, it metamorphosized to the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, moved to a large stadium on Church Road and birthed  many professional tennis stars until 1950, but the Wimbledon tournament itself was more like an amateur tournament not till 1968.

Ever since, The Wimbledon Championship is held annually in late June and early July and remains the only major tennis event still played on grass.

The major and most consistent sponsor of the Wimbledon tournament is Slazenger, a company that since 1902 have supplied all tennis balls. Slazenger holds that record of the longest running sponsorship in sports history.

Radio Wimbledon, BBC and British strawberries and cream have also supported the tournament through the years.

Wimbledon is considered the world’s premier tennis tournament and the priority of the Club is to maintain its leadership. The tournament consists of five main events, five junior events and five invitation events.

Prize money award began in 1968, the year that professional players were allowed to compete in the Championships for the first time. The winner of the men’s title earned £2,000, while the women’s singles champion earned £750 and the total prize money was £26,150.

By 2015, the total prize money awarded had risen to £26,750,000. £1,880,000 each for the Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Singles winners, £340,000 each pair for the Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Doubles winners, and £100,000 per pair for the Mixed Doubles winners.

And for the first time in history, the 2016 Wimbledon Championships total prize money is £28,100,000 (5 percent increase on the 2015 prize money). The Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Singles winners at £2,000,000; the winning pair of the Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Doubles at £350,000 and £100,000 will be awarded to the winning pair of the Mixed Doubles competition.

Here are some statistics that explains how The Wimbledon Tournament has risen through the years.

  1. Most games won in a final was by Andy Roddick in 2009 with 39 games
  2. Most matches played in the men category was by Jean Borotra with a total of 223 matches between 1922 and 1948, for the women, the most matches played is by Martina Navratilova a total of 326 matches
  3. Most consecutive Wimbledon played in the men category was by Arthur Gore, with a record of 30 games between 1888 and 1922; Virginia Wade for the women with a total of 26 between 1960 and 1985
  4. Blanche Bingley Hillyard holds a  record of the loser of most singles finals
  5. Goran Ivanišević holds a double record of lowest-ranked winner and Wildcard winner in both categories.
  6. Venus Williams is  the lowest-ranked winner in the women category, in 2007
  7. In 1985, Boris Becker clinched the record Youngest winner in the men category at the age of 17 years, 227 days while Lottie Dod did same in the Ladies’ Singles category at the 15 years, 285 days, in 1887
  8. The historical longest men’s final by time was between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the game which was played in 2008 spanned for 4hrs 48mins
  9. The longest men’s match by time was in 2010, a game between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut which lasted 11hrs 5mins
  10. In 2009, the game between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick holds the record for the longest men’s final by games, totalling 77 games
  11. In 2010, the longest men’s match by games was played between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut. 183 games were played
  12. The 2012 Men’s Singles Final on 8 July 2012, between Roger Federer and Murray, was the first final to be played under the roof.
  13. Novak Djokovic was the winner of the Gentlemen’s Singles in 2015, his ninth Grand Slam title, and third Wimbledon Singles title.
  14. Serena Williams was the winner of the Ladies’ Singles in 2015. It was her twenty-first Grand Slam Women’s Singles title and sixth title at Wimbledon in singles.
  • Seyifunmi Adebote for

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