A visit to the town of Wimbledon during late June or early July and you will be transported into a different era. The traditions at the Wimbledon Championships come from another age. It is only at Wimbledon that the participants are required to be dressed in white and where the Men’s and Women’s events are called the Gentlemen and Ladies’ events. It is only at Wimbledon that strawberry and cream are served as a part of the tradition and most importantly it is only at Wimbledon, tennis is still played on grass.
The Wimbledon Championships, first held in 1877 by the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, is the oldest and the most prestigious tournament on the tennis circuit. Moved to its current site in 1922, the arena was inaugurated by King George V and a royal touch has always been attached to the tournament.
The tournament which begins on the Monday falling between 20th and 26th June every year is scheduled for 13 days with no play on the Middle Sunday. However rain, which has also been a tradition at the Championships, has forced play on the Middle Sunday three times. However to prevent delays due to rain, a retractable roof was installed on the Centre Court in 2009.
The Championships, however, has remained jinxed for the home players. No English player has laid his hands on the trophy for 74 years since Fred Perry won the title in 1936. In the Open Era, Pete ‘Pistol’ Sampras remains the most successful player at the Championships winning the title 7 times. However the Swiss Master Roger Federer is close on his heels having won 6 titles including winning it for 5 consecutive years from 2003-2007. After finishing runner-up in 2008, he regained the title in 2009, thus making him almost invincible on grass. However the emergence of a certain Rafael Nadal, the current champion, who also beat Federer in an epic final in 2008, means that Federer has to raise his game by several notches if he wants to take over Pete’s title of the most successful grass court tennis player.