As the Wimbledon tournament is all set to commence from July 3 this year, Google with its innovative Doodle marks the 140th year of the oldest tennis tournament of the world. Being organised at the All England Club and the Croquet Club, Wimbledon is considered as one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments world wide and take place over two weeks in late June – early July. Wimbledon is among the four major annual tennis tournaments known as the ‘Grand Slams’ and the only one which is still played on outdoor grass courts. All the other three tournaments including the Australian Open and the US Open are played on hard courts and the French Open is played on clay.
It all started with the announcement in the leisure magazine called ‘The Field’ on June 9, 1877 that The All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon will now hold a lawn tennis meeting which will be open for all new/ old tennis players, on Monday July 9 and following days.
Unlike today’s format, which has four junior and four invitation competitions along with five main contests which includes men’s single and double matches and women’s single and double matches and even the mixed doubles – the initial phase of the Wimbledon championships had only one event called as Gentleman’s Singles.
During this period, the game of lawn tennis was at a very nascent stage with players using basic handmade rackets and other equipments which were very different from the slick powerful serves and top brass rackets we see today. While the tournament had to take a pause during the 1915-1918 and 1940-1945 World Wars (first and second), the game still managed to grow its popularity. It was 1884 when the men’s double format was introduced and the in the same year, women were also invited to join the competition.
This year’s Wimbledon championship will witness Roger Federer’s eighth title while the women’s event has been blown wide open by the absence of defending champion Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.