Over 130 years of its existence, the Wimbledon tournament has acquired many legends, but the funny thing is that the oldest planet tournament was born thanks to another sport – croquet. Back in 1868, in London, it was decided to establish the All England Croquet Club, which a year later, in Wimbledon, bought the very lands on which The Championships Wimbledon now passes. At first, tennis players were “poor relatives” on Wimbledon’s lands: on four acres of land of the croquet club squares, they found only one site, which they also shared with badminton players. However, by 1876 the popularity of tennis in England had grown so much that lovers of the game of croquet had to allocate four more full-fledged tennis players to tennis players.
And in April 1877, tennis entered the official name of the Wimbledon Club, which from that moment became known as the “All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.” In the summer of the same year, it was decided to hold the first tennis tournament at Wimbledon, and there was no question of any prize money for its participants – on the contrary, they had to pay one pound sterling in order to enter the court.
Male “loner”: the magic number seven
The first tournament at Wimbledon in July 1877 brought together only 22 participants (one of which did not enter the court) and lasted only four days – now only the male and female Wimbledon qualifications gather 96 participants each, and the tournament itself lasts two weeks. Local shopkeeper Spencer Gore won the amateur men’s tournament and in this way wrote his name in history at the age of 27. A year later, he could make a golden double, but lost in the final compatriot Frank Hadow. The gold take was successful in 1879-80 by Briton John Hartley, and then came the era of William Renshaw, who from 1881 to 1889 won the tournament seven times. This record was held until 2000, when the American Pete Sampras won the men’s tournament for the seventh time in his career. And in 2012, the Swiss Roger Federer became the third member of the men’s “loner”, who managed to win it seven times.
Kazakhstanis in the men’s “loner” cannot boast of particularly loud successes – here the “ceiling” is access to the third round in 2014 of Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin. At the same time, the British won the most tournament titles in men (37), which is explained very simply: massive foreign participation in it began only in 1900, and only in 1907 the Australian Norman Brooks interrupted the hegemony of the British, winning Wimbledon in the single men’s category.
Female “loner”: Williams in pursuit of Navratilova
In women, the situation with the hegemony of the hostesses of the tournament was about the same – from 1887 to 1905 on the grass of Wimbledon the British women reigned supreme, one of whom, Lottie Dod, managed to celebrate five victories, three of which were in a row. But in 1905, an American, Mae Sutton, laid a path to the title for her compatriots, who are currently the widest: American women won the Wimbledon female single 57 times, the British won only 36 victories. And the absolute record for the number of victories in the tournament also belongs to the American – in 1938, Helen Wills-Moody won this tournament for the eighth time in her career. It seemed that one tennis player simply could not win more titles of the Grand Slam, but in 1990 another American, Martina Navratilova, denied this claim, winning Wimbledon for the ninth time in her career. And last year, 35-year-old American Serena Williams has now taken her seventh Wimbledon title in her career.
Judging by the fact that the eldest of the sisters Williams continues to remain in the first positions of the world female rating, she is not going to stop at the seven titles achieved. And if in the current year, Serena wins Wimbledon again, she can wipe at Navratilova’s achievement in a year. Otherwise, this record will hold out for quite a long time – out of the existing tennis players in the TOP-20 world ranking, everyone has one or two wins at Wimbledon. As for Kazakhstan women, the best achievement for Wimbledon in singles is participation in the quarterfinals of Yaroslava Shvedova in 2016. Twice – in 2014 and 2015 – Zarina Diyas reached the fourth round, and in 2015-16, Yuliya Putintseva came out in the second round.
Windsor and British Open: a brief history of the relations of the royal family and tennis
The history of the tournament has 150 years, and during this time Wimbledon gained fame not only the main sporting event of the summer, but also an important point of the secular schedule of the British capital: tennis, as you know, the English aristocracy loves especially gently. In addition, it is there, at tennis matches, that you can almost face the royal family face to face. Where else can you see Kate Middleton in the next podium, happily clapping her hands?
For the first time the royal family visited the sporting competition more than a century ago – in 1907. The first monarchs who were met by the whole stadium were Prince George and Princess Mary of Wales (in the future King George V and Queen Mary, the grandmother and grandfather of Elizabeth II). Their visit was the beginning of a good tradition of visiting the championship by members of the royal family. For them, of course, they even identified a separate tribune, which has its own name – Royal Box. In the short term tennis has become a popular entertainment in the royal family. So much so that once came to the court Prince Albert – the future King George VI, to fight with Louis Greig. That match Elizabeth II’s father lost, but perhaps this is the case when participation is really more important than victory. Almost a hundred years have passed since then, and during this time, Windsor’s relationship with tennis has noticeably strengthened, turning into a really beautiful and interesting story.
The love for tennis presented to the future queen of her husband: in 1939, Princess Lilibet met Philip Mountbatten, whom she married after eight years of relationships. Strictly speaking, they were seen before: for example, in 1934 at the wedding of Prince George, Duke of Kent, or at the coronation of George VI in 1937. However, their novel was destined to start a relationship only two years later, when they met on a tennis court in Devon. Elizabeth II first visited Wimbledon in 1957, and her appearance on the tennis court was a landmark. The fact is that in that year the black tennis player Althea Gibson won the women’s competition, and her case was the first in history when an African American won the cup. The Queen personally welcomed the winner, sending a very clear message: racism and the future of all mankind are incompatible. The last visit of Her Majesty took place in 2010, and before that – only in 1977, so the Queen did not name the Wimbledon regular. Maybe it is for the better: every appearance of Elizabeth II on the tennis court is an event worthy of the front pages of all British newspapers.
The husband of Elizabeth II loves tennis more than she: the duke Philip attended the matches separately from the queen. In the period from 1949 to 1977, the British Consort Prince was seen at the stadium six times, and his wife was only once. Sometimes the duke acted not only as a passive spectator, but also as an active participant: Lew Hode, Neil Fraser and American tennis player Billie Jean King received the award from his hands.
Gods of Wimbledon
In 1980, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe divided the history of tennis between before and after. The spectators in the stands of the All-England Lawn Tennis Club scored to the point they were buzzing – they heard the disgruntled whistle far beyond the courts. 37 years ago, the Wimbledon final roused the crowd long before the first strike on the ball. Too different athletes have reached the extreme point. Makinroy is a 21-year-old wildish hair-newker, a debutant of the Grand Slam finals, a left-hander with an aggressive style, sheer talent, a rebel who fed the tabloids with endless antics. And Borg is a 24-year-old Swede, 4-time winner of Wimbledon, right-handed with a defensive slant, a streamlined machine, outwardly always calm and personifying well-being and stability. The only thing that united them was the nicknames: MacInroy was called the Capricious Child (SuperBrat), and the Borg at that time was called the Young Angel (Teen Angel).
By the final of Wimbledon 1980, the two princes of tennis had already become principal rivals. In 1979, McInroy and Borg were cut six times, of which the Swede won four games. But a year earlier, a cheeky 18-year-old debater with arbitrators humiliated Björn: in Stockholm, in front of the King of Sweden, John spanked an opponent in two sets.
Since childhood, Makinra was distinguished by impatience: he was born at an air base instead of a maternity hospital, and he already worked from school — he delivered morning newspapers to the area and caught balls as a boltboy. Throughout his youth, John was in the top ten tennis padawans in America, at the age of 18 he went to Europe for the first time to win the junior Roland Garros and mixed match with Mary Carillo. A year later, the guy turned into a psycho who everyone remembered. During the match with Phil Dent, Makinra several times gave controversial balls in favor of his opponent. After losing, John heard from the Australian the phrase “Pros do not do that” and at the next tournament began to destroy the rackets, disputes and insults of the judges because of each point.
The history of the Borg, on the contrary, is as if it’s written from classic books and movies. Born in a prosperous family, the racket inherited from his father. Bjorn fell in love with a gift from a parent and turned into a tennis geek: he trained like a machine running to repeat actions. By the age of 13 the boy had the strongest blow among tennis players in Sweden under 18 years old. Crooked, sharp, with a strange blow – coach Lennart Bergelin spent almost the entire career working on correcting Borg’s clumsy and staccato style. The 1980 Wimbledon final could have been a record for the Swede – no one won the tournament five times in a row. And Borg confidently walked to the title, without any problems passing the grid and cracking down on rivals on the courts blurred by heavy rain. Before the final meeting, Bjorn lost only two sets.
Borg was very nervous: the last person to lose Wimbledon, having matchball in the final, was a certain John Bromwich, who had been dumbfounded 32 years before. But before the final set, the Swedish champion had a couple of advantages: he filed first, and Makinroy was tired – the American lost the final tournament doubles that day. The future chief in tennis went to his serve with the score 6: 7 in the deciding set. In the first draw, he hit the net, in the second, too, but after an unsuccessful reception of the Borg. However, the Swede won the next point and realized the eighth match in the game – 1: 6, 7: 5, 6: 3, 6: 7, 8: 6. In exhaustion, Bjorn just fell to his knees.