In the beginning, it was the Jeu de paume (a sport originating from the 13th century in France), but we all know very well that tennis' origins are intimately linked with the birth of the Wimbledon tournament. It was 1874 when the Welsh Major Walter Wingfield Clopton published a patent that was fundamental to the birth of tennis: A Portable Court of Playing Tennis.
It established the fundamental rules of tennis, which, over the course of more than a century, have changed only in some technological aspect, leaving the most important substance more or less unchanged, except for some details that we will later see.
The All England Lawn Croquet Club, a British sports club founded in 1868, subsequently became interested in tennis, and eventually changed its name to All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. The first tournament was played in 1877 when the Wingfield patent ended.
A crowd of about two hundred people saw Spencer Gore, one of the first inventors of the volée, to triumph over London lawns. Over the years, at the turn of the 1800s and 1900s, the tournaments grew in fame and were so successful that they attracted many sportsmen, crowds and journalists.
A women's tournament was also organized in 1884, and the first winner was Maud Watson. One of the strangest moments in the entire history of the tournament was the final play between the Anglican Reverend John Hartley, vicar of Burneston (North Yorkshire) and the future and alleged murderer Vere St.
Leger Goold, in 1879, the third ever Championships edition. The devil and the Holy water. Almost like a mystical battle, the story of the reverend and the murderer is a mystery that still lingers in the summer air of London!
After the First World War the world tennis scene, by now a sport of great fame, glamor and prestige, experienced a golden age, in which big names dominated the courts: the four French musketeers René Lacoste, Henri Cochet, Jacques Brugnon and Jean Borotra, then Suzanne Lenglen and the British Fred Perry.
In these years modern tennis was born, but it was not uncommon to see a tennis player drink a shot of gin between a break and another of matches. After the Second World War, the domination of the American and then the Australian players marked the history of the Championships.
With the start of the Open Era, the following decades saw Wimbledon at the center of the sporting world, with celebrities like Rod Laver, Billie-Jean King, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Boris Becker and Martina Navratilova. Over the years the All England Club expanded both the courts and the facilities, making the tournament ever more advanced.
The Wimbledon museum is an example of the global growth of the tournament. Steffi Graf, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer, Serena and Venus Williams, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic wrote (and some of them are still writing!) the history of the London tournament from the 1990s to the present.
In 2009 a retractable roof was built on Center Court, to allow to play in case of rain. This is joined by a retractable roof on the Cour 1 from the 2019 edition. Not only: starting this year, a super tie-break will be introduced on the fifth set, starting with a score of 12-12.
From the last editions, the sustainable turnaround of the tournament is a source of pride for the All England Club. Farewell to the plastic within which the newly-strung rackets are wrapped. There will also be qualified personnel around the courts to inform the crowd about proper waste disposal.
In addition, the organizers will offer 100% recyclable products, such as water bottles. The latest 2019 news is the qualifying event for women's singles, which will have 128 participants, instead of the 96 players, of last season. And the story continues...