The Wimbledon is one of the four Grand Slam events in men’s and women’s tennis (along with Australian Open, French Open, and US Open). Here are 5 things about this event that you may not know about.
- King George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth II, once played in this event.
While most British royalties would watch the game from the royal box of the Centre Court, the Duke of York, eventually King George VI, competed in the 1926 Men’s Doubles of the Wimbledon. Sir Louis Greig got an automatic berth in Wimbledon after winning the Royal Air Force Tennis Championship and chose the duke to be his partner. Their British opponent Britons Arthur Gore and Herbert Barrett in three easy sets 6-1, 6-3, 6-2. The duke was gracious in defeat.
- The Wimbledon was first staged to raise funds for croquet equipment
While croquet now plays second fiddle to tennis today, it was the All England Club’s only sport when the organization was established in 1868. Lawn tennis was only included in the club in 1875 and the first tennis championships in 1877 was played to raise funds for a pony-drawn roller for the croquet lawns. There was no need for the rollers, however, as the grassy courts of the croquet eventually become a court for the tennis players.
- Until 1922, defending champions got automatic berths in the Finals
It used to be that defending champions had an easier time retaining their titles and winning multiple titles. From 1877 through 1921, defending singles and double’s champions had automatic spots in the Finals while the rest of the competition fought it out. Since then, however, the defending champions had to play seven matches just like the rest of the field in order to retain their title.
- Serena and Venus Williams were not the first siblings to meet in a Wimbledon Final
British twins Ernest and William Renshaw dominated the early years of Wimbledon. During the “Renshaw Rush,” the brothers combined for five doubles titles in the 1880s. With an automatic berth in the Finals, William established a record six consecutive titles from 1881 to 1886. He defeated his brother three times to win the crown. Maud Watson became the first Wimbledon women’s champion by beating her sister Lillian.
- No game is played on the first Sunday of the Grand Slam
According to tradition, no game is played on the first Sunday of Wimbledon, making it the only Grand Slam tournament to have a day off in the middle of the championships. However, in 1991, 1997, and 2004, rains caused such a delay in the schedule that organizers broke tradition and games were played on the first Sunday.