All about Wimbledon

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It’s that time of year again, when we all go crazy for tennis. Every summer two weeks of world-class tennis known as ‘Wimbledon’ or ‘the Championships’ takes place at the All England Club in south-west London. Did you know… 

Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world. It was first held in 1877 when 22 men played each other, very politely. No women were invited to participate. The event was known as The Gentleman’s Singles and the winner Spencer Gore received 12 guineas and a silver cup. This year the All England Club will award a staggering £31.6 million in prize money.

It was not until 1884 that the All England Club committee finally gave in, and allowed women to play. Nineteen-year-old Maud Watson was the first ever women’s champion. She won a silver flower basket and went on to win again in 1885. 

Entrance to the first ever Wimbledon was one shilling (about five pence). Today it costs from £8-£190 and getting hold of tickets is a serious business. There is a public ballot which started way back in 1924. It opens in August every year for the following year’s tickets. Several hundred tickets are sold online the day before play via Ticketmaster, or you can splash out on a fancy hospitality package. And then there is The Queue, the only way to buy tickets on the day. Yes the British love a queue, but this is the queen of the queue. 

The rules of The Queue are extremely strict.  

  • Firstly, go the right place. Southfields tube station is actually much closer than Wimbledon. 
  • Join the queue early. And we mean early. Some people arrive the night before and set up camp. Be prepared for the stewards to wake you up at 6am, then you wait til 9.30am when the grounds open. Otherwise you can go in the afternoon, great for a spot of post-work tennis. 
  • You’ll be given a queue card, numbered and date stamped, so don’t try and queue barge.
  • Be prepared for all weathers as the queue is on a golf course with no shelter. And don’t forget to bring food and plenty of bottles of Sunny D to keep you going! 

There are currently eighteen Championship grass tennis courts at Wimbledon. It’s the best looked-after grass in the world, with a team of 16 staff. Keeping the grass in tip-top condition for Championships is a complicated science. Read on our nerdy grass facts! 

  • Every year, new grass seed is planted. Extensive research has shown that ryegrass is the best seed to produce grass that can stand up to wear and tear, without affecting the players performance.
  • Grass is cut to a height of exactly 0.8mm, “the optimum for present day play and survival” according to the Wimbledon website. 
  • During the tournament the grass is cut every day. 
  • There are no matches played on ‘Middle Sunday’. This is so the grass can be watered and given some extra attention!