Wimbledon Championship History

Wimbledon Championship is one the oldest tennis tournament in the world and is today by many, regarded as the most prestigious.

Wimbledon is one of 4 grand slams, the others being Australian open, french open, and the US Open. Today it’s the only grand slam tournament that is still played on grass. We will go through everything you need to know about the origins of Wimbledon and how it has evolved to the most prestigious tournament in the current era.

What Was Wimbledon Originally Designed For?

Wimbledon was the first official Lawn tennis event that was created to compensate for the waning interest in Croquet. Wimbledon got created by the “all England club” in Marble Road, very close to where today’s Wimbledon is played. However, the all England club created Wimbledon to generate enough money for the repair of the clubs’ pony roller.

The tournament generated a profit of £10 and the pony roller stayed in use. When the tournament was finished, the tournament director Henry Jones, gathered all the scores to analyze the results and found that, of the 600 games played during the tournament, 376 were won by the server and 224 by the receiver. At this time, the serve was either made underarm or at shoulder height, this was seen as a serving dominance and resulted in a modification of the rules for the next year, the 1878 championship. 

When was the first Wimbledon?

July 9, 1877, was the first Wimbledon. Twenty-one amateurs showed up at the “all England club” to compete in the Gentlemen’s Singles tournament, the only event at the first Wimbledon. The amateurs paid 1 guinea to participate and the winner was to take home a 25-guinea trophy.

No Women Allowed

Women weren’t allowed to play the first tournament in 1877, but 22 men participated in front of a modest crowd of 200 people that watched the first matches that were played with wooden rackets and flannel balls.

It was first in 1884 that the directors at the All England Club agreed to open the championship to both sexes. A few years later Lottie Dodd made history to win Wimbledon as the youngest player ever at 15 years old (still unbeaten).

Champions – Records

Gentlemen’s Since 1877

Most Men’s Singles TitlesRoger Federer8
Most Consecutive Singles TitlesWilliams Renshaw6
Most Men’s Doubles TitlesTood Woodbridge/Mark9
Most Mixed Doubles TitlesLeander Peas4
Most Titles (Singles & Doubles)Laurence Doherty13

Wimbledon Today and Future

Wimbledon is today regarded by most fans and players as the most prestigious tournament in the world. There are over 500million people around the world following the tournament every year.

In recent years Wimbledon has expanded their tournament with classes for juniors and wheelchair tennis. The tournament is growing every year and in the future, it will most likely grow even bigger. The future of Wimbledon is nothing else than bright.

With the start at the “all England club” with 24 participants, to become one of the biggest and most prestigious tournaments in the world, it’s safe to say that Wimbledon’s growth and development have been truly amazing.

Prize money

With the growth of the tournament, the prize money pool has also increased rapidly. If you compare the prize money from Wimbledon 50 years ago compared to today, the difference is quite mind-blowing. In 50 years the prize money pool has increased by over 100 000%. Below you can see the difference between the Wimbledon prize money 1968 compared to the 2018 tournament winner.

YearMen’s SinglesLadies’ Singles

Back in 1966, the total prize money pool for the Wimbledon championship was only £26k where the winners of singles men’s and women’s events took home £2k each while runners-up got a mere £800 for the singles events.

Ever since the total prize money pool has been increasing every year and in 1984 it hit the million mark for the first time when a total of €1,46 million was awarded in prize money. Wimbledon is one of the few tournaments that has increased their prize pool every single year.

Here is the full breakdown of the prize money pool history of Wimbledon.

YearMen’s SinglesLadies’ Singles

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