After toiling hard in the scorching sun of Australia and fighting gladiatorial battles on clay for four months, the tennis players are in for a roller-coaster ride on the lush greens of the All England Club. The champions at the French Open have no time to celebrate their spoils, and the rest have been trying to figure how they can produce better results in their warm-up tournaments on grass.
With hardly a month between the French Open and The Championships, some players try to get as much match practice under their belt before they arrive at Wimbledon, while others just stick to their stringent training regimens. Skidding and slipping on the slick suface, they all try to find their feet and rhythm on courts that are fast and unforgiving.
Half-way through the season, a few players may seem spent. But the prospect of playing at Wimbledon injects in them a fresh lease of life and readies them for two weeks of history.
So why exactly is Wimbledon the biggest and most prestigious tennis tournament of all? As we mark Sportskeeda’s association with Allen Solly for the 2015 Wimbledon Championsips, here are a few reasons that make this tournament so great:
1. The birthplace of lawn tennis
The Championships, Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world. It was held for the first time way back in 1877 at the All England Croquet Club.
In 1882 the word ‘croquet’ was dropped since the Club now hosted only lawn tennis activities. The word was added back in 1899 for sentimental reasons, and hence the name ‘All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club’ came into existence.
In the inaugural edition of Wimbledon, only the gentlemen’s singles event was held. Spencer Gore was the winner of the event that fielded 22 players in total. The finale was witnessed by 200 odd spectators, each of whom paid a shilling.
Wimbledon is the only Major that has retained grass, the Slam’s original surface. This is the place where ‘lawn tennis’ originated.
2. Rich in tradition and high on etiquette
While the green turf is synonymous with Wimbledon, there are several other elements of this Grand Slam that constitute its trademark. Dark green and purple are the official colours of Wimbledon. The uniforms of court officials, ball boys and ball girls have all been designed using these colours.
In 2006, for the first time ever, all Wimbledon clothing was contracted out to an external party – the American designer Polo Ralph Lauren.
Female players are referred to by the title “Miss” or “Mrs”, on scoreboards and on court. In adherence to the etiquette, all married female players are addressed by their husband’s names.
For example, Justine Henin-Hardenne appeared on scoreboards as “Mrs. Henin-Hardenne”. While the male professional players are not referred to using the title “Mr”, the amateurs are referred to with that title. The only time the male professional players are referred to with the “Mr” is when they appeal for a Hawk-eye challenge.
Up until 2003, the players, on entering Centre Court, bowed or curtsied to the Royal Box. But in 2003, the President of the All England Club, His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, decided to do away with the tradition.
Since then, the players bow or curtsy only when His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales or Her Majesty The Queen are present. Her Majesty The Queen showed up in the Royal Box after a span of 33 years during The Championships of 2010.
By staying true to the time-tested traditions of British culture and royalty, Wimbledon has built an exceptionally strong brand for itself that sets it apart from all other tennis events.
3. White – the soul mate of the green lawn
The white tramlines define the court on the green lawns. And the ‘all-white’ dress code imposed by the Wimbledon Clothing and Equipment Rule for the players helps create a sharp contrast to the green turf. This signature contrast, over the years, has been etched into our collective memory like few other sporting spectacles.
Some players and various sports brands have expressed their disappointment with the rule and its strict implications. But for some others, the all-white rule is more than a rule. It’s a turning point; a change of attitude.
"Wimbledon is a place where I learnt to wear white, where I learnt to bow. It's a place where I learnt to accept and to come to appreciate the tradition," Andre Agassi once told CNN. "For me it represents an evolution in my own life. Holding the trophy in 1992 was one of my best feelings on a tennis court."
While there have been players who have made a mockery of this rule and worn outfits that ranged from borderline ridiculous to outright horrendous, the rule stays put. Despite some unfortunate consequences that it entails, the Wimbledon Clothing and Equipment Rule adds to the exclusivity of this Grand Slam.