A History of the
Premier Tennis Grand Slam Event
The first Wimbledon, and the first tennis Grand Slam, was held in 1877 at The All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club. Played on a court with a net that was five foot high at the posts and three foot three inches high at the center, Spencer Gore won the men's singles over W.C. Marshall, beating him 6-1 6-2 6-4 in the final. There were 22 players in the field. The final was watched by approximately two hundred spectators who paid a shilling each to get in.
In the first Wimbledon, the Gentlemen's Singles was the only event. Men's doubles was introduced in 1884, as was the Ladies Singles which was won by the 19 year old daughter of a vicar, Maud Watson, who beat her older sister, Lilian, 6-8 6-3 6-3 in the final.
Until 1922, the winners of the tournament did not have to play through the draw the following year. The holders of the title played a Challenge Round against the winner of the tournament comprising all entrants except the previous year's winner.
In 1887, Charlotte 'Lottie' Dod won the ladies singles at 15 years old. She is still Wimbledon's youngest winner - male or female.
In 1905, May Sutton of the USA became the first champion from overseas.
In 1913, Ladies' Doubles and Mixed doubles were introduced.
The first World War interrupted proceedings between 1915 - 1918.
In 1922 the Challenge Round was abolished. But it wasn't until five years later that full seedings were introduced.
In 1938, Don Budge (USA), and current holder of the Australian Open and the French open, won a second Wimbledon singles title. A win at the US Open later that year saw Budge become the first player to complete the tennis Grand Slam.
Between 1940 - 1945, The Championships were interrupted by the Second World War.
In 1948, two new events were introduced - the Boys' and Girls' invitational singles. But it wasn't until 1964 that another event was introduced - the Invitation Men's Veterans.
In 1968, Rod Laver and Billie Jean King won the first "Open" Wimbledon. The following year, Richard "Pancho" Gonzales and Charlie Pasarell played Wimbledon's longest match. It was a first round marathon that was played over two days, lasting 5 hours and 12 minutes, with a total of 112 games.
In 1971, the tie-break was introduced at eight games all in the first four sets. The fifth set remained advantage.
Since the abolition of the Challenge Round 58 years earlier, Swedish sensation, Bjorn Borg, broke the record for the number of consecutive men's singles titles, picking up his fifth title in a row in 1980. Today, that record still stands.
Not even the great Pete Sampras, who won between 1993 - 1995 and 1997 - 2000 was able to win five in a row. Perhaps the winner for the last four years, Roger Federer, will claim Borg's record.
Meanwhile, will anybody ever better Martina Navratilova's record of six consecutive women's singles titles from 1982 - 1987?
In 2005, in an innovative move, wheelchair tennis was introduced as a new event at Wimbledon's Championships.
As one of the world's most widely watched sporting events, with massive, global tv coverage, Wimbledon is the premier tennis Grand Slam. Like the Australian Open, The French Open and the US Open, Wimbledon has its own unique atmosphere. With its grass courts and polite crowds, Wimbledon's garden party atmosphere is a "must visit" for any tennis fan. It truly deserves its place at the top of the tennis Grand Slam tree.
Australian Open History
French Open History
US Open History