Window on UK Culture
Wimbledon Lawn Tennis

When does Wimbledon start?


Wimbledon starts this year on June 25th and finishes with the men's final on July 8th.

What's special about Wimbledon?


Wimbledon is the world's oldest tennis championships and also the only current major tennis tournament played on grass. Almost 500,000 people will flock to watch the lawn tennis championships at Wimbledon and with radio and television broadcasts the audience becomes a following of millions worldwide. It is acknowledged as the world's premier tennis event.

Who invented tennis?


Tennis wasn't originally a British game but has its origins in 12th century France with a game called "Paume" or "Palm" in English. Players would hit a small ball over a net by hand. The racket was introduced in Italy in the 16th century and the game first came to Britain in 1873 where the name tennis was first used. It is thought to come from the French word "Tendere" meaning "to hold". The early game was played on an hour glass shaped court by wealthy English people on manor house lawns and this is from where the modern game evolved.

By 1875 the Wimbledon Croquet Club had decided to replace the croquet court with a lawn tennis court but the shape was now rectangular and with the dimensions still used today.

When were the Wimbledon Chamionships first played?


The first Wimbledon championships were held in 1877 and were very much a garden party atmosphere. Spectators paid a shilling to watch the final of the only competition, the Men's Singles, which was won by Spencer Gore. He was famous for saying that tennis would never catch on because it was too boring!

When was Ladies tennis introduced at Wimbledon?


The first Ladies Singles was contested by thirteen competitors in 1884 and won by Maud Watson. Men's doubles were also introduced for the first time. Lottie Dod won the first of five titles in 1887 and is still the youngest player ever to have won a singles event at just 15 years and 285 days (Martina Hingis of Switzerland is the youngest ever Wimbledon champion when she won the Ladies Doubles in 1996 at the age of only 15 years and 282 days.)

Who was the first overseas champion?


1900 saw the first overseas Wimbledon champion, May Sutton of the USA won the Ladies Singles, she won again in 1907 the year the Men's singles was first won by an overseas competitor, Norman Brookes of Australia. Since that time, the men's singles has only ever been won by two British men, Fred Perry in 1936 and Arthur Gore 1909.

Arthur Gore is still the oldest Wimbledon Men's Singles champion at the age of 41 years and 182 days. 

Who has won the most titles?


Peter Sampras holds the record for most Men's singles titles, seven in all, and

Martina Navratilova is the winner of a record nine ladies singles titles.

Billie Jean King has won a record of twenty titles including, singles, doubles and mixed doubles.

What is traditionally eaten at Wimbledon?


Wimbledon is synonymous with strawberries, 23 tonnes were served last year together with 7,000 litres of cream. If laid end to end the strawberries would span a distance of 60km.

How do I get there?

By Underground:

Go to Wimbledon or Southfields on the District Line or Tooting Broadway on the Northern Line, then take Bus 493.

By Rail:

There is a regular train service from London Waterloo to Wimbledon Station. At Wimbledon train station take the 493 bus.