The oldest tennis tournament in the world, Wimbledon – also known simply as The Championships – has been held at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) in south-west London since 1877.
Of the four Grand Slams, Wimbledon is the only one still played on grass courts since the Australian Open shifted to hard courts in 1988.
The iconic event retains the traditional elements from tennis’s polite, amateur past; including a strict dress code for the competitors, who all wear white; Royal patronage; no play on the middle Sunday of the event; the absence of sponsor advertising around the courts; and the conspicuous consumption of strawberries and cream.
That doesn’t mean Wimbledon hasn’t evolved with the times, however. Prize money was first offered to competitors in 1968, the first year that professional players were allowed to compete in The Championships, and men and women have been paid equal prize money since 2007. With the unpredictable British summer often leading to rain, a retractable roof was installed over Centre Court and has been in operation since 2009, with No. 1 Court to be roofed. The All-England Club also features the Aorangi Terrace, a large outdoor area where fans watch matches on a giant screen, popularly known as ‘Henman Hill’ after British player Tim Henman. It is also known as ‘Murray Mound’ in recent years after Andy Murray became the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win Wimbledon in 2013. Virginia Wade was the last British women to win Wimbledon in 1977.
Wimbledon is broadcast by the BBC on every day of The Championships and attracts huge television audiences around the world. New legends are added to the myth of Wimbledon every year, such as the 183-game match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut on Court 18 in 2010, which Isner won 70-68 in the fifth set; and the iconic 2008 men’s final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, widely regarded as the greatest match of all time.
Pete Sampras and Roger Federer jointly hold the record for most men’s titles at Wimbledon in the Open Era with seven each, while Federer (2003-7) and Bjorn Borg (1976-80) are tied for the most consecutive singles titles. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic and the most recent men's champion, Andy Murray all have two titles.
On the women’s side, Martina Navratilova holds the Open Era record with nine Wimbledon titles and also holds the record for most consecutive women’s titles, winning six between 1982 and 1987. Among active players, Serena Williams holds the record for most titles with six, just edging out sister Venus' five, while Maria Sharapova (2004) and Petra Kvitova (2011 and 2014) have also captured the prize at the All England Club.
The Championships 2017 promises plenty of excitement as Federer goes in search of a record-breaking eighth title, Murray seeks back-to-back triumphs on his home patch, and Djokovic comes after redemption following that loss to Querrey. Add a resurgent Rafael Nadal into the mix; plus the big-serving Milos Raonic and the career-slam seeking Wawrinka, and you get a really exciting menu.
Let's not forget the younger generation, lead by Nick Kyrgios (a former Wimbledon quarter-finalists), and the hugely talented Alexander Zverev, who looks set to make a big impression at Wimbledon in 2017.
Serena Williams is the woman to beat yet again, but there are quite a few in the draw who can beat her. Karolina Pliskova had that big win at the US Open, while Angelique Kerber and Garbine Muguruza have both beaten Williams in Grand Slam finals.
The stage is set for an exciting fortnight of top-flight competition at the home and pinnacle of tennis as Wimbledon 2017 unfolds from July 3- July 16.
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