Original home of Wimbledon Championships dedicated
Since the first serve on a four-acre plot of land at Worple Road, a lot has changed about the Wimbledon Championships in its 135 year history.
Tennis’s showpiece event gets under way next week, and on Monday a plaque at the original home of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club – which today is used as playing fields for Wimbledon High School - was unveiled to celebrate the roots of the inaugural championships of 1877.
Then, the name Wimbledon was not a household name worldwide. The first final drew 200 spectators as they gathered to watch 27-year-old Spencer Gore beat William Marshall in three sets to get his hands on the 12 guineas prize fund, a far cry from the £1.1 million that Novak Djokovic picked up by winning the men’s singles championship last year.
Long gone are the days of wooden rackets, underarm serving, modest clothing and temporary seating with the championships now considered the pinnacle of global tennis.
In 2011, 489,946 spectators chomped their way through 31,360kg of strawberries and 7,000 litres of dairy cream, washing it down with 250,000 bottles of water on their way to watching the final in the all-seated 15,000 centre court.
Philip Brook, Chairman of the All England Club, believes that the rich history of the club is something that should be recognised and honoured: "As our former home Worple Road occupies a special place of affection in the All England Club’s history.
"The return this year of the Olympic tennis for the first time since 1908 offered us the perfect opportunity to celebrate our heritage at Worple Road and we are delighted to have commissioned this new plaque to tell that story," he said.
THEN AND NOW
ENTRANCE FEE TO MEN’S FINAL
= 1 shilling (1887) =£3,200 (2012)
PRIZE FUND FOR MEN’S
=12 guineas (1887) =£1,100,000 (2011)
ATTENDANCE AT CHAMPIONSHIPS
=60,000 (estimated,1913-1921) =489,946 (2011)
LENGTH OF MEN’S FINAL
=48 minutes (1887) =2 hours and 29 minutes (2011)
ATTENDANCE AT FINAL
=200 (1887) =15,000 (2011)
WHO COULD PLAY?
=Men singles only (1887) =Everybody inc. younger players (2012)
=White long sleeves for men and corsets for women (19th century) Short skirts and sleeves all allowed. = A lot of leg always on show (2012)