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The Championships, Wimbledon

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Background Information

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The Championships, Wimbledon
Official website
Location Wimbledon, London Borough of Merton
United Kingdom
Venue The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
Surface Grass / Outdoor
Men's draw 128S (128Q) / 64D (16Q)
Women's draw 128S (96Q) / 64D (16Q)
Mixed draw 48D
Prize money £14,600,000 ($23,800,000) (€16,600,000)
Grand Slam

The Championships, Wimbledon, "The Wimbledon Championships" or simply Wimbledon (also informally known as "The British Open"), is the oldest tennis tournament in the world, and widely considered to be the biggest and the most prestigious. It has been held at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London since 1877. It is one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, the other three majors being the Australian Open, French Open and US Open. Wimbledon is the only Major still played on grass, the game's original surface, which gave the game its original name of "lawn tennis".

The tournament takes place over two weeks in late June and early July, culminating with the Ladies' and Gentlemen's Singles Final, scheduled for the second Saturday and Sunday respectively. Each year five major events are contested, as well as four junior events and three invitational events.

The hard court (Plexicushion) Australian Open and clay court French Open precede Wimbledon in the year, and the hard court (DecoTurf) US Open follows. For men, the grass court Queen's Club Championships, also in London, and the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany, serve as warm-up events; for women, the AEGON Classic in Birmingham and two joint events, the UNICEF Open in 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands and the Eastbourne International.

Wimbledon traditions include a strict dress code for competitors, the eating of strawberries and cream by the spectators, and Royal patronage. The tournament is also notable for the absence of sponsor advertising around the courts. In 2009, Wimbledon's Centre Court was fitted with a retractable roof to lessen the loss of playing time due to rain.


Sébastien Grosjean takes a shot on Court 18 during the 2004 Championships.


The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club is a private club founded in 1868, originally as 'The All England Croquet Club'. Its first ground was off Worple Road, Wimbledon.

In 1876, lawn tennis, a game devised by Major Walter Clopton Wingfield a year or so earlier and originally called ' Sphairistike' was added to the activities of the club. In spring 1877, the club was renamed 'The All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club' and signalled its change of name by instituting the first Lawn Tennis Championship. A new code of laws, replacing the code administered by the Marylebone Cricket Club, was drawn up for the event. Today's rules are similar except for details such as the height of the net and posts and the distance of the service line from the net.

The Gentlemen's Singles, which opened on 9 July 1877, was the first event held; it was won by Spencer Gore, an old Harrovian rackets player, from a field of 22. About 200 spectators paid one shilling each to watch the final.

The lawns at the ground were arranged so that the principal court was in the middle with the others arranged around it, hence the title ' Centre Court', retained when the Club moved in 1922 to the present site in Church Road, although no longer a true description of its location. However, in 1980 four new courts were brought into commission on the north side of the ground, which meant the Centre Court was once more correctly defined. The opening of the new No. 1 Court in 1997 emphasised the description.

Ladies Championship, 1884. First prize, awarded to Maud Watson, was a silver flower-basket worth 20 guineas.

By 1882, activity at the club was almost exclusively confined to lawn tennis and that year the word 'croquet' was dropped from the title. However, for sentimental reasons, it was restored in 1899.

In 1884, the club added Ladies' Singles and Gentlemen's Doubles. Ladies' Doubles and Mixed Doubles were added in 1913. Until 1922, the reigning champion had to play only in the final, against whomever had won through to challenge him/her. As with the other three Grand Slam events, Wimbledon was contested by top-ranked amateur players until the advent of the open era in tennis in 1968. No British man has won the singles event at Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936 and no British woman since Virginia Wade in 1977, although Annabel Croft and Laura Robson won the Girls' Championship in 1984 and 2008 respectively. The Championship was first televised in 1937.

21st century

Centre Court with open roof at the 2010 Championships

Wimbledon is widely considered the world's premier tennis tournament and the priority of the Club is to maintain its leadership. To that end a long-term plan was unveiled in 1993, intended to improve the quality of the event for spectators, players, officials and neighbours.

Stage one (1994–1997) of the plan was completed for the 1997 championships and involved building the new No. 1 Court in Aorangi Park, a broadcast centre, two extra grass courts and a tunnel under the hill linking Church Road and Somerset Road.

Stage two (1997–2009) involved the removal of the old No. 1 Court complex to make way for the new Millennium Building, providing extensive facilities for players, press, officials and members, and the extension of the West Stand of the Centre Court with 728 extra seats.

Stage three (2000–2011) has been completed with the construction of an entrance building, club staff housing, museum, bank and ticket office.

A new retractable roof was built in time for the 2009 championships, marking the first time that rain did not stop play for a lengthy time on Centre Court. The Club tested the new roof at an event called A Centre Court Celebration on Sunday, 17 May 2009, which featured exhibition matches involving Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Kim Clijsters and Tim Henman. The first Championship match to take place under the roof was the completion of the fourth round women's singles match between Dinara Safina and Amelie Mauresmo. The first match to be played in its entirety under the new roof took place between Andy Murray and Stanislas Wawrinka on 29 June 2009, which Murray won. Murray was also involved in the latest completed match at Wimbledon, which ended at 11:02 pm in a victory over Marcos Baghdatis at Centre Court in the third round of the 2012 Championships. The 2012 Men's Singles Final on 8 July 2012 between Roger Federer and Murray was the first final to be played under the roof, which was activated during the third set.

A new 4000-seat No. 2 Court was built on the site of the old No. 13 Court in time for the 2009 Championships. A new 2000-seat No. 3 Court was built on the site of the old No. 2 and No. 3 Courts.


Wimbledon consists of five main events, four junior events and four invitation events.

Main events

The five main events, and the number of players (or teams, in the case of doubles) are:

  • Gentlemen's Singles (128)
  • Ladies' Singles (128)
  • Gentlemen's Doubles (64)
  • Ladies' Doubles (64)
  • Mixed Doubles (64)

Junior events

The four junior events and the number of players or teams are:

  • Boys' Singles (64)
  • Girls' Singles (64)
  • Boys' Doubles (32)
  • Girls' Doubles (32)
  • Disabled Doubles (12)

No mixed doubles event is held at this level.

Invitation events

The five invitational events and the number of pairs are:

  • Gentlemen's Invitation Doubles (8 pairs Round Robin)
  • Senior Gentlemen's Invitation Doubles (8 pairs Round Robin)
  • Ladies' Invitation Doubles (8 pairs Round Robin)
  • Gentlemen's Wheelchair Doubles (4 pairs)
  • Ladies' Wheelchair Doubles (4 pairs)

Match formats

Matches in the Gentlemen's Singles and Gentlemen's Doubles are best-of-five sets, in all other events are best-of-three sets. A tiebreak game is played if the score reaches 6–6 in any set except the fifth (in a five-set match) or the third (in a three-set match), in which case a two-game lead must be reached.

All events are single-elimination tournaments, except for the Gentlemen's, Senior Gentlemen's and the Ladies' Invitation Doubles, which are round-robin tournaments.

Until 1922, the winners of the previous year's competition (except in the Ladies' Doubles and Mixed Doubles) were automatically granted byes into the final round (then known as the challenge round). This led to many winners retaining their titles in successive years, as they were able to rest while their opponent competed from the start of the competition. From 1922, the prior year's champions were required to play all the rounds, like other tournament competitors.


Each year (currently until 2015), the tournament begins on the Monday falling between 20 and 26 June, two weeks after the Queen's Club Championships, which is one of the men's major warm-up tournaments. Another important men's warm-up tournament is the Gerry Weber Open, which is held in Halle, Germany during the same week as the Queen's Club Championships. Other important grass-court tournaments before Wimbledon are Eastbourne, England, and 's-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands, both combining mixed events. The other women's warm-up tournament for Wimbledon is Birmingham, also in England. After the Championships each year there is a tournament at Newport, Rhode Island, USA.

Wimbledon is scheduled for 13 days, beginning on a Monday and ending on a Sunday. The five main events span both weeks, but the youth and invitational events are held mainly during the second week. Traditionally, there is no play on the "Middle Sunday", which is considered a rest day. However, rain has forced play on the Middle Sunday three times, in 1991, 1997 and 2004. On each of these occasions, Wimbledon staged a "People's Sunday", with unreserved seating and readily available, inexpensive tickets, allowing those with more limited means to sit on the show courts. If the tournament is not completed by the end of the second Sunday, all remaining matches are postponed until "People's Monday".

From 2015, the championships will begin one week later than in previous years, extending the gap between the tournament and the French Championships from two to three weeks.

Players and seeding

Players and doubles pairs are admitted to the main events on the basis of their international rankings, with consideration also given to their previous performances at grass court events. Since the 2001 tournament 32 players have been given seedings in the Gentlemen's and Ladies' singles, 16 teams in the doubles events.

The Committee of Management and the Referee evaluate all applications for entry, and determine which players may be admitted to the tournament directly. The committee may admit a player without a high enough ranking as a wild card. Usually, wild cards are players who have performed well during previous tournaments, or would stimulate public interest in Wimbledon by participating. The only wild card to win the Gentlemen's Singles Championship was Goran Ivanišević in 2001. Players and pairs who neither have high enough rankings nor receive wild cards may participate in a qualifying tournament held one week before Wimbledon at the Bank of England Sports Ground in Roehampton. The singles qualifying competitions are three-round events; the same-sex doubles competitions last for only one round. There is no qualifying tournament for Mixed Doubles. The furthest that any qualifier has progressed in a Singles tournament is the semi-final round: John McEnroe in 1977 (Gentlemen's Singles), Vladimir Voltchkov in 2000 (Gentlemen's Singles), and Alexandra Stevenson in 1999 (Ladies' Singles).

Players are admitted to the junior tournaments upon the recommendations of their national tennis associations, on their International Tennis Federation world rankings and, in the case of the singles events, on the basis of a qualifying competition. The Committee of Management determines which players may enter the four invitational events.

The Committee seeds the top players and pairs on the basis of their rankings, but it can change the seedings based on a player's previous grass court performance. Since 2002 a seeding committee has not been required for the Gentlemen’s Singles following an agreement with the ATP. The seeding order is determined using the formula: ATP Entry System Position points + 100% points earned for all grass court tournaments in the past 12 months + 75% points earned for the best grass court tournament in the 12 months before that. A majority of the entrants are unseeded. Only two unseeded players have won the Gentlemen's Singles: Boris Becker in 1985 and Goran Ivanišević in 2001. In 1985 there were only 16 seeds and Becker was ranked 20th; Ivanišević was ranked 125th when he won as a Wild Card entrant, although he had previously been a finalist three times, and been ranked no. 2 in the world. His low ranking was due to having been hampered by a persistent shoulder injury for three years, which had only just cleared up. In 1996, the title was won by Richard Krajicek, who was originally unseeded (ranked 17th, and only 16 players were seeded) but was promoted to a seeded position (still with the number 17) when Thomas Muster withdrew before the tournament. No unseeded player has captured the Ladies' Singles title; the lowest seeded female champion was Venus Williams, who won in 2007 as the 23rd seed (the only time anyone outside the top 16 has won), beating her own record from 2005, when she won as the 14th seed. In both cases, Williams was returning from an injury that had either hampered or prevented her playing in previous tournaments, giving her a lower ranking than she would normally have had. Unseeded pairs have won the doubles titles on numerous occasions; the 2005 Gentlemen's Doubles champions were not only unseeded, but also (for the first time ever) qualifiers.


The order of play for all courts is displayed on boards around the grounds

Since 2001 the courts used for Wimbledon have been sown with 100% perennial ryegrass. Prior to 2001 a combination of 70% ryegrass and 30% Creeping Red Fescue was used. The change was made to improve durability and strengthen the sward to better withstand the increasing wear of the modern game.

The main show courts, Centre Court and No. 1 Court, are normally used for only two weeks a year, during the Championships, but play can extend into a third week in exceptional circumstances. The remaining 17 courts are regularly used for other events hosted by the Club. The show courts were in action for the second time in three months in 2012 as Wimbledon hosted the tennis events of the 2012 Olympic Games. One of the show courts is also used for home ties of the GB teams in the Davis Cup on occasions.

No.1 Court

Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam event played on grass courts. At one time, all the Majors, except the French Open, were played on grass. The US Open abandoned grass in 1975 and the Australian Open in 1988.

The principal court, Centre Court, was opened in 1922 when the Club moved from Worple Road to Church Road. The Church Road venue was larger and was needed to meet the ever-growing public demand.

Due to the possibility of rain during Wimbledon, a retractable roof was installed prior to the 2009 Championship. It is designed to close/open in about 20 minutes and will be closed primarily to protect play from inclement (and, if necessary, extremely hot) weather during The Championships. When the roof is being opened or closed, play is suspended. The first time the roof was closed during a Wimbledon Championship match was on Monday 29 June 2009, involving Amélie Mauresmo and Dinara Safina. The court has a capacity of 15,000. At its south end is the Royal Box, from which members of the Royal Family and other dignitaries watch matches. Centre Court usually hosts the finals and semifinals of the main events, as well as many matches in the earlier rounds involving top-seeded players or local favourites.

The second most important court is No.1 Court. The court was constructed in 1997 to replace the old No.1 Court, which was adjacent to Centre Court. The old No.1 Court was demolished because its capacity for spectators was too low. The court was said to have had a unique, more intimate atmosphere and was a favourite of many players. The new No.1 Court has a capacity of approximately 11,000.

From 2009, a new No.2 Court is being used at Wimbledon with a capacity for 4,000 people. To obtain planning permission, the playing surface is around 3.5m below ground level, ensuring that the single-storey structure is only about 3.5m above ground level, and thus not affecting local views. Plans to build on the current site of Court 13 were dismissed due to the high capacity of games that will be played at the 2012 Olympic Games. The old No.2 Court has been renamed as No.3 Court. The old No.2 Court was known as the "Graveyard of Champions" because many highly seeded players were eliminated there during early rounds over the years, including Ilie Năstase, John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Martina Hingis, Venus Williams, and Serena Williams. The court has a capacity of 2,192 + 770 standing. In 2011 a new No.3 Court and a new Court 4 have been unveiled on the sites of the old No.2 and 3 courts.

Terracotta Warriors

At the northern end of the grounds is a giant television screen on which important matches are broadcast. Fans watch from an area of grass officially known as the Aorangi Terrace. When British players do well at Wimbledon, the hill attracts fans for them, and is often renamed by the press for them: Greg Rusedski's followers convened at "Rusedski Ridge", and Tim Henman has had the hill nicknamed Henman Hill. As both of them have now retired and Andy Murray is the number 1 British player, the hill is occasionally referred to as "Murray Mound" or " Murrayfield", as a reference to his Scottish heritage and the Scottish ground of the same name, but this has largely failed to catch on – the area is still usually referred to as Henman Hill. None of these nicknames are official.

Grounds schedule

The grounds open at 10:30 am on each day. On the Centre Court, play starts at 1 pm, with exception of the final two days of the competition (Ladies' and Gentlemen's Finals), when play begins at 2 pm. On courts 2–19, play begins at noon for at least the first eight days of the competition. It then starts at 11 am for the Junior matches on the middle Saturday and during the second week.


Wimbledon ball girl at the net, 2007
Court 10 – on the outside courts there is no reserved seating

Ball boys and ball girls

In the championship games, ball boys and girls, known as BBGs, play a crucial role in the smooth running of the tournament, with a brief that a good BBG "should not be seen. They should blend into the background and get on with their jobs quietly."

From 1947 ball boys were supplied by Goldings, the only Barnardos school to provide them. Previous to this, from the 1920s onwards, the ball boys had been provided by The Shaftsbury Children's Home.

Since 1969, BBGs have been provided by local schools. As of 2008 they are drawn from schools in the London boroughs of Merton, Sutton, Kingston, and Wandsworth, as well as from Surrey. Traditionally, Wandsworth Boys Grammar School in Sutherland Grove, Southfields and Mayfield Girls School on West Hill in Wandsworth, both now defunct, were the schools of choice for selection of BBGs. This was possibly owing to their proximity to the All England Club. BBGs have an average age of 15, being drawn from the school years nine and ten. BBGs will serve for one, or if re-selected, two tournaments.

Starting in 2005, BBGs work in teams of six, two at the net, four at the corners, and teams rotate one hour on court, one hour off, (two hours depending on the court) for the day's play. Teams are not told which court they will be working on the day, to ensure the same standards across all courts. With the expansion of the number of courts, and lengthening the tennis day, as of 2008, the number of BBGs required is around 250. BBG service is paid, with a total of £120-£160 being paid to each ball boy or girl after the 13-day period. Along with this it is seen as a privilege, and seen as a valuable addition to a school leaver's curriculum vitae, showing discipline. BBG places are split 50:50 between boys and girls, with girls having been used since 1977, appearing on centre court since 1985.

Prospective BBGs are first nominated by their school headteacher, to be considered for selection. To be selected, a candidate must pass written tests on the rules of tennis, and pass fitness, mobility and other suitability tests, against initial preliminary instruction material. Successful candidates then commence a training phase, starting in February, in which the final BBGs are chosen through continual assessment. As of 2008, this training intake was 600. The training includes weekly sessions of physical, procedural and theoretical instruction, to ensure that the BBGs are fast, alert, self-confident and adaptable to situations. As of 2011, early training occurs at the Wimbledon All England Lawn Tennis Club Covered Courts, to the side of the Grounds, and then moves to outside courts (8,9,10) the week before the Championships for a feel of the grass court.

Colours and uniforms

Dark green and purple are the traditional Wimbledon colours. However, all tennis players participating in the tournament are required to wear all-white or at least almost all-white clothing, a long-time tradition at Wimbledon. Wearing white clothing with some colour accents is also acceptable, provided the colour scheme is not that of an identifiable commercial brand logo. Controversy followed Martina Navratilova's wearing branding for "Kim" cigarettes in 1982. Green clothing was worn by the chair umpire, linesmen, ball boys and ball girls until the 2005 Championships; however, beginning with the 2006 Championships, officials, ball boys and ball girls were dressed in new navy blue- and cream-coloured uniforms from American designer Ralph Lauren. This marked the first time in the history of the Championships that an outside company[ clarify] was used to design Wimbledon clothing; the contract with Polo Ralph Lauren is set to end in 2015.

Guidelines regarding prominently white clothing rule
  1. No solid mass of colouring
  2. Little or no dark or bold colours
  3. No fluorescent colours
  4. Preference towards pastel colours
  5. Preference for the back of the shirt to be totally white
  6. Preference for shorts and skirts to be totally white
  7. All other items of clothing, including hats, socks and shoe uppers to be predominantly white

Referring to players

Prior to 2009 female players were referred to by the title "Miss" or "Mrs" on scoreboards. As dictated by strict rule of etiquette, married female players are referred to by their husbands' names: for example, Chris Evert-Lloyd appeared on scoreboards as "Mrs. J. M. Lloyd" during her marriage to John Lloyd, since "Mrs. X" essentially designates the wife of X. This tradition has continued at least to some extent. For the first time during the 2009 tournament, players were referred to on scoreboards by both their first and last names. For example "Andy Murray", not "A. Murray".

The title "Mr" is not used for male players who are professionals on scoreboards but the prefix is retained for amateurs, although chair umpires refer to players as "Mr" when they use the replay challenge. The chair umpire will say "Mr is challenging the call..." and "Mr has X challenges remaining." However, the umpires still say Miss when announcing the score of the Ladies' matches.

If a match is being played with two competitors of the same surname (e.g. Venus and Serena Williams, Bob and Mike Bryan), the chair umpire will specify to whom they are referring by stating the player's first name and surname during announcements (e.g. "Game, Miss Serena Williams", "Advantage, Mike Bryan").

Royal Family

The Royal Gallery at Centre Court, Wimbledon

Previously, players bowed or curtsied to members of the Royal Family seated in the Royal Box upon entering or leaving Centre Court. In 2003, however, the President of the All England Club, His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, decided to discontinue the tradition. Now, players are required to bow or curtsy only if HRH Prince of Wales, or Her Majesty the Queen is present, as was in practice during the 2010 Championships when the Queen was in attendance at Wimbledon on 24 June. On 27 June 2012, Roger Federer said in his post-match interview that he and his opponent had been asked to bow towards the Royal Box as Prince Charles and his wife were present, saying that that was no problem for him.

Radio Wimbledon

Friday before the start of the tournament. Radio Wimbledon can be heard within a five-mile radius on 87.7 FM, and also online. It operates under a Restricted Service Licence and is arguably the most sophisticated RSL annually in the UK. The main presenters are Sam Lloyd and Ali Barton. Typically they work alternate four-hour shifts until the end of the last match of the day. Reporters and commentators include Gigi Salmon, Nick Lestor, Rupert Bell, Nigel Bidmead, Guy Swindells, Lucie Ahl, Nadine Towell and Helen Whitaker. Often they report from the "Crow's Nest", an elevated building housing the Court 3 and 4 scoreboards which affords views of most of the outside courts. Regular guests include Sue Mappin. In recent years Radio Wimbledon acquired a second low-power FM frequency (within the grounds only) of 96.3 FM for uninterrupted Centre Court commentary, and, from 2006, a third for coverage from No. 1 Court on 97.8 FM. Hourly news bulletins and travel (using RDS) are also broadcast.

Television coverage

For over 70 years, the BBC has broadcast the tournament on television in the UK, starting in 1937. The matches covered are split between its two main terrestrial channels, BBC One and BBC Two. The BBC holds the broadcast rights for Wimbledon until 2014 and it distributes its commercial-free feed to outlets worldwide. During the days of British Satellite Broadcasting, its sports channel carried extra coverage of Wimbledon for subscribers. One of the most notable British commentators was Dan Maskell, who was known as the BBC's "voice of tennis" until his retirement in 1991. Current commentators working for the BBC at Wimbledon include British ex-players Andrew Castle, John Lloyd, Tim Henman, Greg Rusedski, Samantha Smith and Mark Petchey; tennis legends such as John McEnroe, Tracy Austin, Boris Becker and Lindsay Davenport; and general sports commentators including David Mercer, Barry Davies, Andrew Cotter and Nick Mullins. The coverage is presented by Sue Barker and highlights with John Inverdale. Previous BBC presenters include Des Lynam, David Vine and Harry Carpenter.

The Wimbledon Finals are obliged to be shown live and in full on terrestrial television (BBC, ITV, Channel 4, or Channel 5) by government mandate. Highlights of the rest of the tournament must be provided by terrestrial stations; live coverage (excepting the finals) may be sought by satellite or cable TV.

British strawberries and cream served at Wimbledon

Americans have made a tradition of NBC's "Breakfast at Wimbledon" specials at weekends. During Breakfast at Wimbledon, strawberry with cream is the typical food that is served. Live coverage starts early in the morning (the US being a minimum of 5 hours behind the UK) and continues well into the afternoon, interspersed with commentary and interviews from Bud Collins, whose tennis acumen and (in)famous patterned trousers are well-known to tennis fans in the USA. Collins was sacked by NBC in 2007, but was promptly hired by ESPN, the cable home for The Championships in the States. For many years NBC's primary Wimbledon host was veteran broadcaster Dick Enberg. From 1975 to 1999, premium channel HBO carried weekday coverage of Wimbledon. Hosts included Jim Lampley, Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, John Lloyd and Barry MacKay among others. Presently, weekday coverage in the United States is exclusively handled by ESPN2 during the tournament's first week. During the tournament's second week it was split between ESPN2 and NBC. ESPN's online service ESPN3 provides full coverage of courts not televised using BBC graphics and commentary. Effective the 2012 tournament, all live coverage, including the Finals, will be exclusively on ESPN and ESPN2, marking the second major tennis championship (after the Australian Open) available in the United States exclusively on pay television (although taped highlights from the tournament will be presented at weekend afternoons on sister network ABC). Taped coverage using the BBC world feed is aired in primetime and overnights on Tennis Channel and is branded Wimbledon Primetime.

Wimbledon was also involved, unintentionally, in a piece of television history, on 1 July 1967. That was when the first official colour television broadcast took place in the UK. Four hours live coverage of Wimbledon was shown on BBC Two (then the only colour channel in the UK), and although footage of that historic match no longer survives, the Gentlemen's Final that year is still held in the BBC archives because it was the first Gentlemen's Final transmitted in colour.

Since 2007, the most anticipated Wimbledon matches have been transmitted in High Definition, on the BBC's free-to-air channel BBC HD, with continual live coverage during the tournament of Centre Court and Court No. 1 as well as an evening highlights show Today at Wimbledon.

In Ireland RTÉ broadcast the tournament during the 1980s and 1990s on their second channel RTÉ Two, they also provided highlights of the games in the evening. RTÉ made the decision in 1998 to discontinue broadcasting the tournament due to falling viewing figures and the large number of viewers watching on the BBC. Since 2005 TG4 Ireland's Irish-language broadcaster has provided coverage of the tournament. Live coverage is provided in the Irish language while they broadcast highlights in English at night.

The BBC's opening theme music for Wimbledon was composed by Keith Mansfield and is titled "Light and Tuneful". A piece titled "A Sporting Occasion" is the traditional closing theme, though nowadays coverage typically ends either with a montage set to a popular song or with no music at all.

In Australia, the free-to-air Nine Network covered Wimbledon for almost 40 years but decided to drop their broadcast following the 2010 tournament, citing declining ratings and desire to use money saved to bid on other sports coverage. In April 2011, it was announced that the Seven Network, the host broadcaster of the Australian Open, along with its sister channel 7Two would broadcast the event from 2011.

Television coverage complaints

The BBC was forced to apologise after many viewers complained about "over-talking" by its commentary team during the TV coverage of the event in 2011. It said in a statement that views on commentary were subjective but that they "do appreciate that over-talking can irritate our audience". The BBC added that it hoped it had achieved "the right balance" across its coverage and was "of course sorry if on occasion you have not been satisfied". Tim Henman and John McEnroe were among the ex-players commentating.


The majority of centre and show court tickets sold to the general public are made available by a public ballot that the All England Club holds at the start of the year. A ballot for tickets has been held since 1924, through the All England Lawn and Tennis Club

The ballot has always been substantially oversubscribed. Successful applicants are selected at random by a computer. The most recent figures from 2011 suggested there were 4 applicants to every 1 ballot ticket, so a large number of applications are not successful. Applications must be posted to AELTC by mid December, the year prior to the tournament. Many applicants apply immediately after the end of each years tournament. Seats and days are allocated randomly so you are unable to choose the specific court or day that you would like. Also Ballot tickets are not transferrable, if you are unable to use your ballot tickets you should return them to Wimbledon where they can be re-allocated or sold to the waiting queue on the day.

The All England Club, through its subsidiary The All England Lawn Tennis Ground plc, issues Debentures to tennis fans every five years to raise funds for capital expenditure. Fans who invest thus in the club receive a pair of tickets for every day of the Wimbledon Championships for the five years the investment lasts. Only debenture holders are permitted to sell on their tickets to third parties, although for many years ticket touts have made a habit of purchasing tickets allocated to non-debenture holders in the draw and selling them for a profit. Wimbledon is very strict on this practice and has been known to eject customers who have purchased ballot tickets not in their name. Demand for debentures has increased in recent years, to such an extent that they are even traded on the London Stock Exchange. There were 2,500 Centre Court Debenture seats sold for the 5 year period from 2011-2015 at a price of £27,750 per seat, due to the high demand for Wimbledon tickets there is even a waiting list to purchase these rather expensive Centre Court Debentures.

As a debenture holder, you can legally sell your tickets through Wimbledon's own white market, or alternatively through official companies that manage seat sales on behalf of Debenture holders such as or which have created a market place so you are able to purchase the tickets direct from the owner.

Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam tournament where fans without tickets for play can queue up and still get seats on Centre Court, Court 1 and Court 2. Sequentially numbered queue cards were introduced in 2003. From 2008, there is a single queue, allotted about 500 seats for each court. When they join the queue, fans are handed queue cards. Anyone who then wishes to leave the queue temporarily, even if in possession of a queue card, must agree their position with the others nearby in the queue and/or a steward.

To get into the show courts, fans will normally have to queue overnight at Wimbledon. This is done by fans from all over the world and is considered part of the Wimbledon experience in itself. The All-England Club allows overnight queuing and provides toilet and water facilities for campers. Those planning to queue overnight are advised to bring a tent and sleeping bag. Should a camper be successful in obtaining a ticket, the Club also provides unattended baggage storage where items not allowed into the grounds (including camping equipment such as tents) can be left while matches are in progress.

Times to queue up vary according to the weather, but anyone queuing up before 9 pm on a weekday should be able to get a show court ticket. Early in the morning when the line moves towards the Grounds, stewards walk along the line and hand out wristbands that are colour-coded to the specific court. The wrist band (and payment) is exchanged at the ticket office for the ticket when the grounds open. Queuing for the show courts ends after the quarter finals have been completed.

At 2.40pm on Day Seven (Monday 28 June) of the 2010 Championships, the one-millionth numbered Wimbledon queue card was handed out to Rose Stanley from South Africa.

General admission to the grounds gives access to the outer courts and is possible without queuing overnight. Tickets returned by people leaving early go on sale at 2:30 pm. The money goes to charity.

Trophies and prize money

The Ladies' (top) and Gentlemen's singles trophies

The Gentlemen's Singles champion receives a silver gilt cup 18.5 inches (about 47 cm) in height and 7.5 inches (about 19 cm) in diameter. The trophy has been awarded since 1887 and bears the inscription: "All England Lawn Tennis Club Single Handed Championship of the World." The Ladies' Singles champion receives a sterling silver salver commonly known as the " Venus Rosewater Dish", or simply the "Rosewater Dish". The salver, which is 18.75 inches (about 48 cm) in diameter, is decorated with figures from mythology. The winners of the Gentlemen's Doubles, Ladies' Doubles, and Mixed Doubles events receive silver cups. The runner-up in each event receives an inscribed silver plate. The trophies are usually presented by the President of the All England Club, HRH The Duke of Kent.

Prize money was first awarded in 1968, the first year that professional players were allowed to compete in the Championships.

Before 2007, among grand slam tournaments, Wimbledon and the French Open awarded more prize money in men's events than in women's events. In 2007, Wimbledon changed this policy, giving the same money for both events. The decision has been controversial as women spend approximately half as much time on court as men during the tournament because of their playing only three sets, therefore earning considerably more per hour than their male counterparts. Wimbledon In 2009, a total of £12,500,000 in prize money was awarded with the singles champions receiving £850,000 each, an increase of 13.3 percent on 2008.

For the 2010 Championships, the total prize money increased to £13,725,000, and the singles champions received £1,000,000 each.

For the 2011 Wimbledon Championships it was announced that the total prize money would be £14,600,000, an increase of 6.4% from 2010. Both male and female singles champions prize money also increased to £1,100,000, a rise of 10% since the previous year.

On 24 April 2012, it was announced that the total prize money offered at the 2012 Wimbledon Championships would be £16,060,000, an increase of 10.0% from 2011. The bulk of the increases were given to players losing in earlier rounds. This move was in response to the growing angst among lower-ranked players concerning the inadequacy of their pay. Then 68th ranked Sergiy Stakhovsky, member of the ATP Player Council, was among the most vocal in the push for higher pay for players who bow out in the earlier rounds. In an interview Stakhovsky intimates that it is not uncommon for lower-ranked players to be in the negative, for certain tour events, if their results weren't stellar. This issue gained the attention of the men's "big four"—Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Andy Murray—as well as the Championships.

2012 Wimbledon Championship prize money (singles)
Result Prize money Increase from 2011
Winner £1,150,000 4.5%
Finalist £575,000 4.5%
Semi-finalists £287,500 4.5%
Quarter-finalists £145,000 5.5%
Fourth round losers £75,000 9.1%
Third round losers £38,875 13.1%
Second round losers £23,125 14.9%
First round losers £14,500 26.1%

Ranking points

Ranking points for the ATP and WTA have varied at Wimbledon through the years but presently singles players receive the following points:

First round 10 5
Second round 45 100
Third round 90 160
Fourth round 180 280
Quarter-finalist 360 500
Semi-finalist 720 900
Runner-up 1200 1400
Champion 2000 2000
Record plaque about the longest match ever played at Wimbledon.


  • Gentlemen's Singles
  • Ladies' Singles
  • Gentlemen's Doubles
  • Ladies' Doubles
  • Mixed Doubles
  • Singles Finals

Current champions

Event Champion Runner-up Score
2012 Men's Singles Switzerland Roger Federer United Kingdom Andy Murray 4–6, 7–5, 6–3, 6–4
2012 Women's Singles United States Serena Williams Poland Agnieszka Radwańska 6–1, 5–7, 6–2
2012 Men's Doubles United Kingdom Jonathan Marray
Denmark Frederik Nielsen
Sweden Robert Lindstedt
Romania Horia Tecău
4–6, 6–4, 7–6, 6–7, 6–3
2012 Women's Doubles United States Serena Williams
United States Venus Williams
Czech Republic Andrea Hlaváčková
Czech Republic Lucie Hradecká
7–5, 6–4
2012 Mixed Doubles United States Mike Bryan
United States Lisa Raymond
India Leander Paes
Russia Elena Vesnina
6–3, 5–7, 6–4


Record Era Player(s) Count Winning years
Gentlemen since 1877
Winner of most Gentlemen's Singles titles Before 1968: United Kingdom William Renshaw 7 1881, 1882, 1883, 1884, 1885, 1886, 1889
After 1967: United States Pete Sampras
Switzerland Roger Federer
7 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Winner of most consecutive Gentlemen's Singles titles Before 1968: United Kingdom William Renshaw 6 1881, 1882, 1883, 1884, 1885, 1886
After 1967: Sweden Björn Borg
Switzerland Roger Federer
5 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980
2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007
Winner of most Gentlemen's Doubles titles Before 1968: United Kingdom Reggie Doherty
United Kingdom Laurie Doherty
8 1897, 1898, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1903, 1904, 1905
After 1967: Australia Todd Woodbridge 9 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000 (with Mark Woodforde), 2002, 2003, 2004 (with Jonas Björkman)
Winner of most consecutive Gentlemen's Doubles titles Before 1968: United Kingdom Reggie Doherty
United Kingdom Laurie Doherty
5 1897, 1898, 1899, 1900, 1901
After 1967: Australia Todd Woodbridge
Australia Mark Woodforde
5 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997
Winner of most Mixed Doubles titles – Gentlemen Before 1968: Australia Ken Fletcher

United States Vic Seixas

4 1963, 1965, 1966, 1968 (with Margaret Court)

1953, 1954, 1955, 1956 (3 with Doris Hart, 1 with Shirley Fry Irvin)

After 1967: Australia Owen Davidson 4 1967, 1971, 1973, 1974 (with Billie Jean King)
Winner of most Championships (total: singles, doubles, mixed) – Gentlemen Before 1968: United Kingdom William Renshaw 14 1880–1889 (7 singles, 7 doubles)
After 1967: Australia Todd Woodbridge 10 1993–2004 (9 doubles, 1 mixed)
Ladies since 1884
Winner of most Ladies' Singles titles Before 1968: United States Helen Wills 8 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1932, 1933, 1935, 1938
After 1967: United States Martina Navratilova 9 1978, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1990
Winner of most consecutive Ladies' Singles titles Before 1968: France Suzanne Lenglen 5 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923
After 1967: United States Martina Navratilova 6 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987
Winner of most Ladies' Doubles titles Before 1968: United States Elizabeth Ryan 12 1914 (with Agatha Morton), 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1925 (with Suzanne Lenglen), 1926 (with Mary Browne), 1927, 1930 (with Helen Wills), 1933, 1934 (with Simone Mathieu)
United States Billie Jean King 10 1961, 1962 (with Karen Hantze Susman), 1965 (with Maria Bueno), 1967, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1973 (with Rosie Casals), 1972 (with Betty Stöve), 1979 (with Martina Navratilova)
After 1967: United States Martina Navratilova 7 1976 (with Chris Evert), 1979 (with Billie Jean King), 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986 (with Pam Shriver)
Winner of most consecutive Ladies' Doubles titles Before 1968: France Suzanne Lenglen
United States Elizabeth Ryan
5 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923
After 1967: United States Martina Navratilova
United States Pam Shriver

Soviet Union/Belarus Natasha Zvereva

4 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984

1991 (with Larisa Neiland), 1992, 1993, 1994 ( Gigi Fernández)

Winner of most Mixed Doubles titles – ladies Before 1968: United States Elizabeth Ryan 7 1919, 1921, 1923 (with Randolph Lycett), 1927 (with Frank Hunter), 1928 (with Patrick Spence), 1930 (with Jack Crawford), 1932 (with Enrique Maier)
After 1967: United States Martina Navratilova 4 1985 (with Paul McNamee), 1993 (with Mark Woodforde), 1995 (with Jonathan Stark), 2003 (with Leander Paes)
Winner of most Championships (total: singles, doubles, mixed) – ladies Before 1968: United States Billie Jean King 20 1961–79 (6 singles, 10 doubles, 4 mixed)
United States Elizabeth Ryan 19 1914–34 (12 doubles, 7 mixed)
After 1967: United States Martina Navratilova 20 1976–2003 (9 singles, 7 doubles, 4 mixed)
Most games won in a final United States Andy Roddick 39 2009
Most matches played (men) France Jean Borotra 223 1922–39, 1948–64
Most matches played (women) United States Martina Navratilova 326
Loser of most singles finals (men or women) United Kingdom Blanche Bingley Hillyard
United States Chris Evert
7 1885, 1887, 1888, 1891, 1892, 1893, 1901
1973, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1985
Lowest-ranked winner (men or women) Croatia Goran Ivanišević 125th 2001
Wildcard winner (men or women) Croatia Goran Ivanišević 2001
Lowest-ranked winner (women) United States Venus Williams 31st (23rd seed) 2007
Youngest winner (men) Germany Boris Becker 17 1985
Youngest winner (Ladies' Singles) United Kingdom Lottie Dod 15 1887
Youngest winner (Ladies' Doubles) Switzerland Martina Hingis 15 1996
Longest men's final by time Switzerland Roger Federer vs
Spain Rafael Nadal
4hrs 48mins 2008
Longest men's match by time United States John Isner vs
France Nicolas Mahut
11hrs 5mins 2010
Longest men's final by games Switzerland Roger Federer vs
United States Andy Roddick
77 games 2009
Longest men's match by games United States John Isner vs
France Nicolas Mahut
183 games 2010
Longest women's final by time United States Lindsay Davenport vs
United States Venus Williams
2hrs 45mins 2005
Longest women's match by time United States Chanda Rubin vs
Canada Patricia Hy-Boulais
3hrs 45mins 1995
Set won without losing a point (golden set) Kazakhstan Yaroslava Shvedova
(3rd round vs Italy S Errani, 1st set)
15 mins 2012

Singles champions never World No. 1

  • According to Wallis Myers of The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail and the computer rankings of the Women's Tennis Association, only seven women have won the Wimbledon singles title since 1921, but never reached the World No. 1 ranking. In 2011, Petra Kvitová won the tournament and later reached a career high of World No. 2. (Since Wimbledon's "Open Era" (1968), only five of the 17 winners haven't reached WTA World No. 1.) These are, in chronological order: Kathleen McKane Godfree, Cilly Aussem, Karen Hantze Susman, Ann Haydon Jones, Virginia Wade, Conchita Martínez, Jana Novotná, and Petra Kvitová.
  • The men fared differently. Although the men ranked World No. 1 have been dominant in Wimbledon (11 out of the 19 winners), the Open Era features a mixed fortune of champions. Three champions reached a career high of World No. 2, Arthur Ashe, Goran Ivanišević, and Michael Stich. Richard Krajicek, Pat Cash, and Jan Kodeš, while reaching career highs of World No. 4, have also won the singles championship.
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