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Wimbledom or the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, to give it it's proper name, is a private club founded in 1868 as 'The All England Croquet Club'. In 1875, 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 1877, the club was re-titled 'The All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club' and they signalled its change of name by instituting the first Lawn Tennis Championship. A new code of laws were drawn up for the event and 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.

By 1882, activity at the club was almost exclusively confined to lawn tennis and in that year the word 'croquet' was dropped from the title. However, for sentimental reasons, it was restored in 1889 and since then the title has remained The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

The lawns at the ground were arranged so that the principal court was located in the middle with the others arranged around it; hence the title 'Centre Court', which was retained when the Club moved to it's present site in Church Road in 1922. Although 'Centre Court' was not a true description of its location until 1980 when four new courts were brought into commission on the north side of the ground.

The only event held in 1877 was the Gentlemen's Singles, which 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. In 1884, the All England Club added Ladies' Singles and Gentlemen's Doubles. Ladies' Doubles and Mixed Doubles were added in 1913.

Until 1922, the reigning champion only had to play in the final or 'Challenge Round', against whoever had won through the tournement. As with the other three Grand Slam events, Wimbledon was contested only by amateur players until the advent of the Open era in 1968. No British man has won the singles event at Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936 and no British woman has won the Ladies Singles since Virginia Wade in 1977. The Championship has been televised since 1937. Although the 'championships' are only on for two weeks each summer and tickets are hard to come by, you can take a tour and visit the museum.

For details and booking for the museum and tour click here.

For information about the championships and ticket availability.

To get there from the Americana; take the Jubilee Line from Baker Street to Westminster. At Westminster change to the District Line and take a westbound Wimbledon train to Southfields. The ground is within walking distance and the route is signposted.




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