Polish those polite clapping skills – it’s time for Wimbledon. As the most British of all sporting events returns, Neil Simpson finds out how you can secure tickets, spot a royal and enjoy strawberries and cream
Wimbledon, you say? You must mean the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. The southwest London club’s full name is rather long because the club was founded for croquet only, in 1869. Tennis soon became more popular, and the first championship was held eight years later, in July 1877.
The Championships began life on rented meadowland on Wimbledon’s Worple Road, moving to its current home on Church Road in 1922. With room for 13,500 people when it opened, many feared the new site was too big and would become an embarrassment. They could not have been more wrong.
In 1937, the BBC was a year old and its first live sports coverage was of Wimbledon, with 30 minutes of Centre Court action every day.
It was watched by the several thousand people in north London who lived close to the transmitters and had a television.
The Queen visited Wimbledon for the first time in 1957 to watch the men’s doubles final between Lew Hoad and Neale Fraser. She has attended the Championships four times, but in 2016 she passed on her patronage to the Duchess of Cambridge, who watched the men’s final with Prince William last year.
The famous dress code was made official in 1963, dictating that players must dress ‘predominantly in white’ – it was upgraded to ‘almost entirely in white’ in 1995. Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton was barred from Centre Court’s Royal Box in 2015 because he wasn’t wearing a shirt and tie. Instead, he had to watch Novak Djokovic win his third Wimbledon title from a hospitality area, missing out on the chance to sit with Benedict Cumberbatch and Anna Wintour.
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