Lawn tennis, 1887.
A print from the Library of Congress, Washington
Whoever would have thought that a patch of manicured green grass would evoke great minds to inspire the game of lawn tennis? Those men of passion with their imagination gave rise to ideas where that creativity could flourish into the brand that we know today as Wimbledon.
Two centuries ago when the English were getting everywhere – and frankly I can say thank goodness for their intrepidness ... because we all speak English - exported our culture and entertainment too ... yes as time has gone on we’ve sat back and let everyone else beat us at our own games – oh well we enjoy the participation and hope!
Walter Clopton Wingfield on a
Hungarian stamp (credited
as the co-inventor of lawn tennis)
Times were changing in the late 1800s – people were becoming richer and could thus try new things, they could experiment and see where their talents lay, or just enjoy a little more entertainment. Finally too the young people of both sexes could mix freely on the tennis courts without fear of scandal.
Marketing played a part – the game was first introduced to the public through the use of a complete kit – a box containing a net, racquets and a small rubber ball ...promoted by Slazengers, the present day ball suppliers.
The early adopters of the game realised that London was the place to hold the first championships, so in 1875 these were held in West London at what would become the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, before the move up the road in 1922 to the new bigger premises, today known simply as “Wimbledon”.
In 1884 the Ladies’ Singles was inaugurated, as was the Gentlemen’s Doubles ... overseas champions started to pepper the Winners’ Cups from 1905 ... the site continued to expand to meet the ever growing public demand.
|Susanne Lenglen (1899 - 1938)|
The Championships were hugely successful and became part of ‘The Season’ with Royalty participating or in attendance ... the Committee in those early days had a vision having seen how popular the game had become ... decided some regulations were needed for the Championships.
Early on Wimbledon was to be a grass court championship, with the contestants wearing white clothing (today this is to be predominantly white) – how that clothing has changed from long trousers, ankle covering dresses ... to the short shorts of the 1980s ... to today’s more comfortable shorts, with a designer coat or two thrown in.
In 1909 the Club colours initially were blue, yellow, red and green too similar to those of the Royal Marines .. and so were changed to purple and dark green – now immediately recognisable as Wimbledon colours.
|Aorangi Hill when Wimbledon is in full swing|
- commonly known as Murray Mount 2011
courtesy The Writing Nut
The new site’s stadium accommodated 14,000 (what foresight) – King George V opened the modern premises, he was an ardent tennis player, as is his great, great grandson, Prince William, and the Duke’s new wife, Catherine.
Wimbledon continued to thrive with champions coming from all corners of the globe and in 1932 two hundred thousand spectators came through the turnstiles. Today the attendance is ‘only’ 450,000 – probably due to seating being introduced, and Health and Safety capacity requirements.
After all these years when those first organisers revelled in what they had created ... I think they would be pleased that their vision has been maintained for what is now the premier tennis tournament in the world ... the period 1877 – 1939 laid the foundations for that future.
During the War sportsmen in North America carried on with their tournaments, whereas here everyone was drafted in to the War effort ... the Championships were curtailed until 1946, and they were lucky to be able to resume as a ‘stick’ of (five) 500 lb bombs dropped on Centre court taking out 1,200 seats.
|Aerial view of Shannon|
After the war all hands were on deck to clear the damage and in 1946 the Championships resumed. The overseas players returned ... the Americans dropping down at Shannon Airport in Ireland to refuel ... where the players picked up butter, cheese and necessary luxuries – on ration to the rest of Britain.
|Rare Rump Steak|
In 1967 another 11 acres of land was purchased, which was leased to the New Zealand Sports and Social Club ... becoming known as Aorangi Park (Aorangi means ‘Cloud Piercer’ ... cloud in the sky, after the Maori part of Mount Cook), with the only proviso that during the championships the park would be used for car parking facilities.
|Mount Cook - Aorangi|
Jack Kramer and Dan Maskell were commentators for the BBC at the time. BBC tv had started broadcasting Wimbledon in 1937 and has the rights until 2014; this year 3D coverage was broadcast for the first time.
In 1981 the New Zealand lease was terminated and the Club, over time, developed the area for its own purposes ... which we see today: Centre Court with its retractable roof (put to good use this year), Court One and new show courts, plenty of tournament and practice courts ...
|New Press Centre 2011|
c/o The Writing Nut
What does the future hold for what is the premier tennis tournament in the world, the one most coveted by the players to win ... the personalities come and go, and return to sit and watch, to commentate and provide us with the back story ...
... the vision of the brand has been maintained ... a quiet exclusivity – that continues on ... to remain unique and maintain the intimacy and dignity that is Wimbledon – there are no mascots, cheerleaders or peripheral distractions ... this is solely a tennis championship: there is no need for mass commercial activity, no sponsorship logos ...
... minimal, almost subliminal branding, is allowed ... Rolex official timekeeper since 1978; Slazenger ball suppliers since 1902; Robinson’s barley water – the official still soft drink since 1934 ...
... a Robinson’s representative was present, realised the players desperately needed a drink while they were competing as it was very hot, he obtained glasses, jugs of water, some Robinson’s lemon barley water ... a brand was born.
Branding is important to Wimbledon ... and each label is selected for its exclusivity, elegance, uniqueness, tradition and/or innovation ...
IBM became the official supplier of information technology in 1990 – developing the website for 1996, the real-time immediacy of broadcast relays around the world .... news and multimedia .. blog, video, photos ...
Follow live scores, real-time statistics and comprehensive analytical match play analysis of The Championships, Wimbledon with IBM PointStream – a new way to enhance your Wimbledon on-line experience.
|1908 Olympics - Tennis Championships|
Great Britain wasn’t scheduled to put on the Olympics in 1908 – it was due to be held in Naples, Italy – but Mount Vesuvius erupted on 7th April 1906 devastating the city.
The Spirit of Wimbledon is its simplicity, elegance, adapting to the times, while maintaining that uniqueness and is remembered for the magic of the Grand Slam fortnight: royal visitors, champions of all sports to be honoured by Wimbledon, memorable days, charities supported ...
|View across the grounds|
c/o The Writing Nut
Tradition in the 21st century needs to be maintained, however there remains an awareness that each year this quintessential English tradition needs to be enhanced and improved, without losing its tradition or history.
Wimbledon Visit with 'The Writing Nut'
"Wimbledon Futures" from the official site
Wimbledon "The Queue" - exhibition
Previous Wimbledon posts: Do you hit the roof?
A century of Aces; Afghanistan to Zimbabwe
Dear Mr Postman – we’ve had a quiet week with my mother.
Previous Wimbledon posts: Do you hit the roof?
A century of Aces; Afghanistan to Zimbabwe
Dear Mr Postman – we’ve had a quiet week with my mother.
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories
Hilary, that's some post. Very interesting, thank you.
This is a fascinating read, Hilary. I think one of the most important lines is that tradition in the 21st century needs to be maintained. How true that is ... It's just that longstanding, respected tradition that winds through your post here, and it's tradition that gives Wimbledon such a regal sense when we even hear mention of it.
Fascinating history. Thanks for sharing this, Hilary. You never fail to grab my attention and teach me something new at the same time. I love traditions. I think they help us to feel connected to each other.
I read, transfixed, your awesome review of Wimbledon's history. I'm so glad this tradition has been handed down to/preserved for the present generation. It is so civilized in its simplicity, i.e. lack of commercialization that's so prevalent everywhere. So elegant, as you say. We need elegance to lift our spirit in a world that so often is crass.
Thank you for this wonderful post that I'm reading on a sunny day in Virginia USA. I caught a cold somehow on Wednesday, and so it looks like my daughter and I are housebound this weekend. Don't feel well enough to go to church tomorrow. So this post and the beautiful photos in it cheered me up. And thank you for your lovely comments on my last posts.
How is your mother doing?
Love, Ann :)
Ann Best, Memoir Author
@ Bob .. fantastic comment .. thanks Bob - delighted you enjoyed it.
@ Joanne - you've certainly picked on something I was trying to convey without realising it .. we need to maintain our 'roots' our tradition - we can't lose it all.
Loved your wording .. 'that gives Wimbledon such a regal sense when we even hear mention of it' ... the essence of what the Champions say .. but all participants too ..
@ Joylene - great to see you after your book tour .. I agree with you - it's good to be reminded of why and how things happened, and that lay those foundations we have built on today ..
@ Ann - you must have had a really good read - your comment is wonderful.
It is civilised isn't it .. Wimbledon seems to draw us into its net without as you say encountering any 'crassness' ... and that lack of 'in your face' advertising that we get everywhere else ..
I'm so sorry you're both suffering from a cold ... just such a frustrating thing to get .. snuffles and coughing all round.
Mum has one too - so life is sort of unsettled ..
Delighted you can expand each of these chapters of life at Wimbledon over the decades .. and have a little quiet dream ... while waiting to feel better - hugs to you both ..
So your comments - Bob, Joanne, Joylene and Ann have really cheered me up too - I so appreciate them - cheers Hilary
This is a wonderful post about our English Heritage that makes one proud to be British.
Much research must have been done to produce a fantastic post.
Thanks for sharing Hilary.
Enjoy your week=end.
Oh wow, Hilary, another remarkable post. So much have I learned about Wimbledon today, after reading your educative post.
Oh... and congratulations!!! I just read on SUSANNE DRAZIC's blog that you are the lucky winner of a "Christmas in July" giveaway!!!!!
Thanks for your kind comments on my posts. You are a gem. I hope your mom is doing well.
I love playing tennis or use to when I could move faster and had a court to play on.
A manicured yard has produced all kinds of game ideas, I imagine. One of which is not a game but the annoying idea that we must keep our yards mowed. :)
You really did your research for this post - I'm impressed! And I learned something. Have you ever been to Wimbledon? It's an experience to see it live.
Awesome! Tennis is the only sport I've ever had any interest in so I loved every bit of this post. Wimbledon is the only sporting event I make sure to watch every summer (I'm a big Federer fan!)and I always get so mad when the finals are going on on Sunday morning here and I'm at church, missing the game!! lol!! As an American, my perception of Wimbledon over the years has always been a sort of reverent awe...like you described, it has a class like no other event in the world. Of course, I had no idea about all of its rich history. And what exactly is barley water?
@ Yvonne .. many thanks - just pulling bits and pieces together - glad that you enjoyed the read.
@ Doris .. it's was interesting to put the information together .. and remind us of our past.
Thank you for telling me - I popped over - nothing like winning something for Christmas in July!
I love reading your stories - it's a great teaching tool .. Mum has a cold-chest infection - so we wait for now ..
@ Teresa .. yes your manicured lawn .. my father built a court for us .. which needed quite a lot of mowing ... I must say for a few years we loved playing on it .. bumps and all! I still enjoy mowing - your back yard beckons ...?
@ Alex .. many thanks .. did you get to look at the "Futures" part of the Wimbledon site? I thought of you when I was including it.
I have been to Wimbledon .. from school, and afterwards quite a few times .. and used to pop down to get a ground pass (when I was living in London), sat in the Debenture seats one year - lucky me .. an experience - but never the Royal Box!!
Eastbourne has a pre Wimbledon grass court tournament .. the Williams sisters were here this year .. and Tsonga too .. my friends went - next year I hope to go .. I've been quite often in the past.
@ Scarlett .. oh great - delighted that you enjoyed the information .. Federer is an exquisite player isn't he .. but in fact those top guys and ladies are quite impressive in their play.
I suppose the one blessing is that we can record or replay the match if we want to .. and at least see some of it - I hope you were able to do that.
I think your description is absolutely right .. a reverent awe .. especially as the demand for tickets goes up every year and now you struggle to get into the ground - crowd limits.
I was waiting for someone to come up and ask about barley water .. and squash, which other peoples don't seem to know about.
The Wiki entry is quite good for squash .. which is a cordial that can be diluted. We grew up with squash .. orange was the most common, but lemon barley came next - I loved this.
Barley water is a restorative drink and often give to the ill, but has been used for thousands of years in some form or other .. again Wikipedia gives some idea ...
We didn't have fizzy drinks when I was growing up after the War .. so water or on special occasions we'd have squash.
I hope this answers you?
Thanks so much Yvonne, Doris, Teresa, Alex and Scarlett .. really appreciate you commenting .. enjoy Sunday and the week ahead .. Hilary
I always enjoy my vists here and come away much wiser.
Fascinating stuff - though I can't actually stand watching the game. Histroy's always interesting though. Good post!
@ Gail .. many thanks and really appreciate your comment.
@ Anne .. thankfully we all have different interests! But so pleased you enjoyed the history ..
Thanks Gail and Anne .. enjoy your weeks .. Hilary
Thank you for sharing this very interesting post. You are a wonderful source of information, Hilary, and I can always count on learning something when I visit your blog!
Wonderful, well researched post. I love to play tennis! Sadly, I'm not very good.
2036? I can't even figure out what I'm doing next week. I'm not really a fan of tennis so the thought of 450,000 people filling a stadium to watch an event shocks me. However, your history is fascinating.
"Finally too the young people of both sexes could mix freely on the tennis courts without fear of scandal." That made me laugh!
Interesting to hear about the history of Wimbledon and tennis. You're making me smarter with every post!
I lived by the tennis courts in Flushing, New York but never went when I lived there. It wasn't easy to get tickets. But I liked catching it on TV.
Hilary: These posts must take so much research on your part. They are always so fascinating and informative. I have been a long time tennis fan and of course a Wimbledon fan, but I just knew very little of the history ... really fascinating. Thanks for sharing.
@ Connie .. so pleased you enjoyed some of the history of one of the Grand Slams ..
@ Sharon .. it's a good friends and family game - all levels welcome - just not at Wimbledon!
@ Clarissa - I agree .. but I was so interested they had a section with their thoughts on 2036.
Oh - the 450,000 are in the grounds over the 13 days of the tournament - only 15,000 fit into the Centre Court each day!
@ Theresa .. I had to put that sentence in - because only 125 years ago it was not acceptable and we forget - so many social changes.
Good - you can pass the info on to your students and mention Flushing Meadow too, even if you haven't been there .. you'll have driven round.
@ Sibyl .. I sort of collect as I go .. and things keep popping up and I then have to cull furiously .. just lovely knowing you enjoy reading - that's what makes it worth it.
Thanks Connie, Sharon, Clarissa, Theresa and Sibyl .. good to see you all with lovely comments - enjoy the week Hilary
Great post, Hilary!
I'll definitely be forwarding this to my tennis-obsessed friends. I'm sure they're going to love reading it as much as I did.
Glad you were able to make use of the pictures. :)
Hi Nutschell .. I was so pleased to be able to use some of your pictures - many thanks .. it's lovely seeing the grounds in perspective without people around.
I hope your friends enjoy this post, and have a chance to look at my two previous ones .. a different take again.
Enjoy the week .. as I know you've got lots going on .. cheers Hilary
I enjoyed reading about the history of Wimbledon! All of your photos really brought the story to life. It is interesting when you think about all of the "branding" that goes into it. Julie
Hi Julie .. so pleased to know .. and I like to add the photos as like you say they provide a visual effect too.
I was interested in hearing about the "branding" .. and how they'd decided to keep the elegant simplicity of the purple, green and white, while utilising the brands as the necessary tools of the trade and Grand Slam ... without putting them in our face.
Thanks for visiting .. Hilary
Interesting - I didn't know all the history behind it! I do enjoy watching, and I must try to queue up and get tickets on of these days, seeing as how Wimbledon is only a few tube stops away!
Hi Talli .. thanks .. I thought most people wouldn't know .. and that social history about sexes not being able to mix etc ..
You can apply for tickets in the Autumn .. and they draw lots .. queueing sounds a little like a nightmare now-a-days .. unless you camp out! But check their 'Queue' exhibition out ..
Glad your shoes enjoyed their walking in Wales!! Cheers - Hilary
My youngest child played tennis until college and when she got a scholarship to play there - stopped playing! Made me sad. She would get up in the middle of the night to watch Wimbledon when we had TV.
I do enjoy watching tennis, I could never see the ball well enough to play a good game myself.
Once again a fascinating lesson.
I was taking care of my company from Denmark...so sorry I could not get around...catching up now
Hi Patricia .. I remember that .. oh well - each to her own. Watching the sort of iconic things one wants to watch, when we live in other parts of the world .. means odd hours!
Now I guess we can watch at any time with the new technology .. so glad you enjoy watching sometimes - I only watch Queens and Wimbledon and if the finals of the other Grand Slams are on - then those too .. perhaps the Davis Cup .. but never non-stop.
Glad you enjoyed it .. and I know you've been busy with friends from Denmark .. the time to enjoy .. cheers for now - Hilary
Very well well researched article, enjoyed it very much!
I've never gotten into tennis, although I did used to enjoy playing badminton in the back yard when I was young. When those tennis games are on television here it seems nothing can preempt them. My mother gets annoyed because it interferes with some of her soap operas.
Tossing It Out
You teach me so much, Hilary! :) I learn so many things when I come and visit you. Have a wonderfully awesome week!
Just pulling a few bits and pieces together, you say? This is surely worthy of being an archival submission for Wimbleton.
The year 2036 seems surreal - yet it is only 25 years away. And there is every possibility of both of us still writing blogs! :D
Thank you for a highly interesting essay about one of Britain's treasures.
@ Marinela .. thank you.
@ Lee - yes there'd always be a bat and a ball, or a racquet and shuttlecock floating around when kids were playing.
Yes - people get irritated when Wimbledon and Queens interrupts their tv schedules here! I get very irritated with football that goes on forever .. Wimbledon is only 2 weeks ... football is 10 months & counting up!! I can understand your mother's annoyance!
@ Karen .. delighted you enjoyed the post and had a fun read .. good to know - thank you.
@ Amy .. fortunately yes .. most of the info came flooding in as it was Wimbledon's 125th year .. it was trying to get it down to a reasonable length.
I wanted to cover (finish off) Wimbledon mostly - as next year so much will be happening - it may only get a mention.
A great deal of the info came from the Wimbledon site (including The Futures - 2036), odd bits from Wiki and some from the BBC .. then just me putting my take on it and turning it into a post.
Thanks Amy - delighted that you enjoyed it .. so much happening in so little time .. and as you say - what about the next 25 years.
Like you - I hope I'll be around and ? still blogging! but aware and interacting I hope!
Thanks Marinela, Lee, Karen and Amy - wonderful to see you here - enjoy the rest of your weeks ... Hilary
Some fascinating facts and what's more Wimbledon makes a great day out.
You've done a great deal of homework for this post.
Wimbledon really is special; although I am not a spectator sports woman at all, I watch a few matches during Wimbledon.
I can't quite see any foreign players actually drinking Robinson's Barley Water. The stuff is foul. Poor sugar.
Wow - so interesting! I never knew some of this.
I also wanted to let you know I added a "MR. Linky" widget my blogfest ad to make signing up easier. You seemed interested...I also have several suggestions for what you can offer that day listed in the post. I hope to see you there! ;-) http://writinginwonderland.blogspot.com/2011/07/wonderland-giveaway-blogfest-2011.html
Wimbledon does ring a bell. I am sure my husband knows more about England than I do as he lived there longer than me. And no, I have not thought about 2036, wow that is a long time from now, but wait when you come to think of it it is only twenty five years from 2011. I have been telling my kids to plan for their retirement as thirty to forty years do seem long but if they plan Wimbledon twenty five years a head of time so should young people. Am I making sense?
I love that picture of Susanne. I would like to attend Wimbledone someday - just to get a feel of the whole culture of that sport. I don't pay much attention to sports, but a live tennis match would be interesting.
I love to play and watch tennis as well. Thanks for the history of Wimbledon. Appreciate the new information from your post.
@ Ros .. how right you are - it is a lovely day out and I've always enjoyed my visits.
@ Friko - many thanks - Wimbledon is definitely special and British. I think most people enjoy watching some of it.
Now everyone has their own concoctions to drink .. I love lemon barley water! I don't drink it all the time though.
@ Sylvia - glad you enjoyed the read. Thanks for the link over .. I'll be across to have a look.
@ Munir - good to see you. There are some very good Indian tennis players .. Vijay Amritraj; Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes .. to name the three men of this generation. Sania Mirza is a female player who has done well recently.
You're right 2036 is only 25 years away - not long to go! Planning for 25 years ahead makes sense .... as well as planning for retirement - so you're right to encourage your kids.
@ Michelle - Susanne Lenglen does seem to float in that photo doesn't she .. I loved it too. That's a good dream to have a visit to England with a day out at Wimbledon .. I hope it comes true for you!
@ Cathy - glad you enjoyed the post and nice to meet you ... and good to hear you enjoy playing as well as watching.
Thanks Ros, Friko, Sylvia, Munir, Michelle and Cathy - good to see you here - enjoy the rest of the week .. Hilary
I love this post and the journey from the early days of Tennis to now. I was expecting to end with strawberries and cream though LOL! I wonder if our tennis players need to think about eating steak more to win! ;O)
Hi Madeleine .. I had so much to put in - so that's why strawberries got omitted with a few other things .. the Century of Aces post (as above) - has a strawberry header photo!
Well - it'd be nice if we could get a winner wouldn't it .. not sure they need steak though - positive thought half way through the 2nd set .. would be more like it! and then constantly .. the youngsters look encouraging ..
Good to see you - cheers for now - Hilary
Very interesting information about Wimbledon 2036!
Let's wait and see!
Hi Bijja .. glad you enjoyed the post. Being an engineer - you would love the new roof .. that was in one of my other posts I linked to ..
I couldn't work out which your main blog is and which one you'll be posting on ..
Cheers for now - good to meet you .. and I'd love to visit Kerala one day! Hilary
Thanks Hilary, I went over and read about it a little more, couldn't believe it was so dark in the photo..I was picturing something like ginger-ale-sort of a clear drink. It also said it was used as a first baby food! Very interesting.
I hope to try the official drink of Wimbledon some day! ~Scarlett
Hi Scarlett .. I was worried about that picture - that's why I put the bottles of Robinsons lemon barley squash as a photo into the post .. looks distinctly more appetising, when diluted like a thirst quencher.
I'm afraid I didn't read the whole article - but it must have given a vague overview.
Coming over to England for a visit to Wimbledon and a few drinks of thirst quenching squash with some pub and museum visits thrown in - sound like a good idea!
Cheers - enjoy the rest of the week - Hilary
You continue to amaze me with your ability to collect so many fascinating facts about any topic you choose to cover. Nicely done!
Hi Susan .. many thanks - just delighted you enjoy reading them .. good to see you here .. enjoy the weekend - Hilary
The amount of research you do to prepare each of your blog posts is incredible, Hilary. Each one I read opens my eyes to new things. Thank you!
P.S. I'm a new follower!
Hi Michelle - good to see a new follower - always appreciate followers and commenters. So pleased to know that you've enjoyed your read through a few of the posts ..
Have a good rest of the weekend .. cheers Hilary
See, I know if I dropped by here in my precious power-feed time, I would find something amazing to read! Your blog is so informative and interesting, Hilary. Thank you.
Hi Glynis .. I'm honoured .. as I read .. you only have a few hours and the power cuts will last for a year .. must have been one big bang! Not at all a good thing for a small island such as Cyprus.
I just hope you can find a way round the restrictions .. but so good to see you .. many thanks - and look after things .. cheers Hilary
It's interesting to speculate about what may happen in the future. While, Wii tennis is popular these days I don't see technology really having that big of an impact on professional tennis. I think it will probably stay the same for the next twenty or thirty years.
Perhaps, they may come up with an extreme version of the game though. Imagine different levels that players would need to jump up, on, or off of, instead of a flat course.
Great post with a lot of cool historical tidbits. Makes me want to dust off my racket and get out there.
Have a good one!
Hi, nice to meet you! Thanks for your encouraging comment about my guest post! I am having a great time meeting new people on this journey, just as you said. Loved this post ~ I'm a tennis fan and a history nut, and this gave me both.
Tina @ Life is Good
@ Chase .. yes - you have some knowledge of Wii etc .. being totally non-technical (well nearly!) I have no idea whether things will be of value .. certainly Wimbledon have thought about its value sufficiently to have a tab for 2036 ...
We shall see how much the game changes - and the other thing is will there be any rule changes - eg one serve only, no lets etc ...
Glad you enjoyed it .. I used to love playing tennis, then moved to squash with the weather (even when I went to South Africa!) .. now - it's the sofa ...
Have a very good week ..
@ Tina .. you too .. you're doing sterling work visiting all 1200 bloggers in the A-Z challenge ..
.. everyone in the A - Z offers something unique ..
Delighted you enjoyed the post ..
Thanks Chase and Tina - enjoy your weeks .. Hilary
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