Wimbledon is a city in the United Kingdom which gives its name to the oldest tennis tournament in the world and perhaps the most prestigious one. Located in southwest London, it was founded in 1868 and has been held ever since at the “All England Club”. The patrons of the club are H.M. Queen Elizabeth II and H.R.H. The Duke of Kent. Wimbledon is one of the four Grand Slam tournaments (or Majors), the other three being the Australian Open, French Open and US Open. The British Grand Slam is the only one to be played on grass. It begins each year on the Monday between 20 and 26 June and lasts for thirteen days. The All England Club hosted the first Gentlemen's Singles in 1877 and has been hosting the Ladies' Singles since 1884. Like all the other Majors, Wimbledon also organizes the Gentlemen's Doubles, Ladies' Doubles and Mixed Doubles. All these events are single-elimination tournaments; that is to say that the loser of the match is directly eliminated from the competition.
Wimbledon is a microcosm of British culture. First of all, the respect of traditions is fundamental. All tennis players participating in this Grand Slam have to adhere to a strict dress code: wearing all-white – or almost all-white – clothing. Then, order and discipline are more than required. For instance, the ball boys and girls (BBGs) “should not be seen. They should blend into the background and get on with their jobs quietly.” Spectators queue orderly before the matches to get tickets and next to the courts they show a lot of respect for every player; there is not as much booing as in the French or US Open. Finally, the All England Club illustrates the schism between the lower and upper classes of British society. People with money and privileged positions have their own seats in the greatest courts by paying thousands of pounds while ‘real’ tennis fans are desperately looking for tickets by ballot or camping. The elite will be having tea on high terraces and in private lounges not so far from the Royal Box while the others eat their strawberries with cream on the seats of less important courts.
Before 1975, all the Majors, except the French Open, were played on grass courts. Today, Wimbledon is the only one played on grass, the favourite surface of great serve-and-volleyers like Boris Becker, Pete Sampras or more recently Roger Federer. Because of the low rebounds on grass courts, fast serves and great volleys are indeed the best weapons to win the oldest tennis tournament. Despite the fact that the British created the sport of tennis, they didn’t enjoy much success in the Majors: the last British to have won was Virgina Wade… in 1977. Needless to say, much pressure lies on the shoulders of the Scot Andy Murray (ATP 4) (go here: 2009, Murray vs. Wawrinka), a real contender for the title. Year after year, the passionate and patriotic public believes in the success of Murray, still unable to succeed to Fred Perry – last male British winner… in 1936!
Watch here the Wimbledon 2011 NBC top 10 shots :
Vivian Collard & Martin Gerard