Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world, having been established in 1877 at the All England Club in London. This championship is held for a total of two weeks and is played exlcusively on grass. It is the only major tournament that is played on grass. The French Open (Roland Garros) is played on clay, whilst the US Open and Australian Open are played on hard courts.
Who gets to compete?
Everyone wants to get onto centre court and play tennis in one of the world's greatest tennis tournaments, so what do you have to do to earn a place? The gentlemen's and ladies' singles players are decided on their international ranking, which is determined from performances from pervious tournaments around the world. Then there are an extra eight wild cards entered into both the men and women's tournament, and any remaining spaces of the 128 players in the women's and men's tournaments are open to qualifiers.
The wild card players are the people who have played well in previous tournaments or would generate interest from the public. The admittance of junior players though is different to the adults, as they are recommended by their national tennis associations, their ITF (International Tennis Federation) ranking or from qualifiers.
The tournament thrives on it's simplicity. Whilst competitions like the World Cup are made of groups, Wimbledon is a simple knock out, and in the singles' game, the 128 play a total of seven rounds, with half of the players (the losers of their respective games) being eliminated from the competition. The match ups are picked at random, rather than selected. This means some of the lower seeded players may play someone closer to their ability, or may get to play against the higher seeded players like Nadal or Murray.
Each competition has its own set of traditions, and Wimbledon is no exception. One of the most notable ones is every player has to wear all white, unlike other competitions, where players can wear whatever colour they like. One of the least noticeable traditions is how there is no actual advertising around the edge of the court. Below is a comparison of both the US Open and Wimbledon. The US Open picture you'll see has advertising for Chase and Mercedes, whilst the court at Wimbledon is bare.
Another one of the traditions not so obvious to the casual viewer is how the commentators speak. At other tournaments around the world, the male and female events are referred to as the "Men's Singles" or the "Women's Doubles". Instead, Wimbledon commentators have to refer to the men and women as ladies and gentlemen (Gentlemen's Doubles for example).
Events at Wimbledon
- Gentlemen's Singles: 128 players
- Ladies' Singles: 128 players
- Gentlemen's Doubles: 64 pairs
- Ladies' Doubles: 64 pairs
- Mixed Doubles: 48 pairs
- Boy's Singles: 64 players
- Girls' Singles: 64 players
- Boy's Doubles: 32 pairs
- Girls' Doubles: 32 pairs
- Gentlemen's Invitation Doubles
- Ladies' Invitation Doubles
- Senior Gentlemen's Invitation Doubles
- Gentlemen's Wheelchair Singles
- Ladies' Wheelchair Singles
- Gentlemen's Wheelchair Doubles
- Ladies' Whelchair Doubles
Should you beat off some of the best players in the world and manage to win the final, the men are presented with a silver gilt cup, approximately 47 cm in height, and the ladies are awarded the Rosewater dish, a silver shield about 48cm in diameter. Both trophies are presented to the winner, but are then returned to the All England Club and their museum, where they are permanently kept. The winners are then given a slightly smaller replica to take home. The runner up is awarded an inscribed silver plate.
The winners of the doubles' championships are also awarded a silver cup for their effort in the competition.
In terms of prize money, both the men and women's singles win £2.2 million, with the losing finalists winning £1.1 million.
The tennis player with the most Gentlemen's Singles titles is Roger Federer, with 8 titles since 2003 (maybe more after the date of the publicaion of this article). The most successful solo ladies player is Martina Navratilova with 9 titles between 1978 to 1990. The longest match in Wimbledon history was recorded in 2010 between American Joshn Isner and Nicolas Mahut from France. Their match lasted just over eleven hours and lasted 183 games, each player winning two sets each, with Mahut winning the final set 70 to 68.
However, one of the best rumours to arise after the end of the match that captured the attention of the entire Wimbledon community, John Isner supposedly walked up to the net to shake Mahut's hand and with every muscle in his body aching asked: "Best of three?"
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