As a little girl who started playing tennis when I was 10 years old, Wimbledon was a wonderful treat to watch each year over the 4th of July holiday. I would dream about going to see Wimbledon and seeing Chris Evert Lloyd or Boris Becker play on Centre Court. I so enjoyed seeing them show the members of the royal family who were in attendance plus the movie stars and dignitaries. I have a love for pomp and circumstance and Wimbledon is rich with it in addition to history and tradition.
August of this year I took a trip with my family to England. While Wimbledon was not taking place at the time, I was still able to go for a visit and tour of The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club Limited (AELTC) where Wimbledon is held. My family knew this was on my bucket list. As we were driving there, I could feel myself getting more and more excited. I was delighted to see the street leading up to the AELTC was lined with gorgeous flowers and well-manicured gardens.
When we arrived at AELTC the grounds were just as beautiful, and the sun was shining. Our tour began with two boards. One was a picture of the Wimbledon Women’s and Men’s Trophies. And the second was the 2019 Wimbledon Order of Play. You can see the 2019 Wimbledon men’s singles final championship match was 4 hours and 57 minutes in length. Top seeded Djokovic defeated second seed Federer in 5 sets to win the match. This is not the longest match at Wimbledon. There is a plaque outside of court 18 where John Isner’s name is commemorated. He beat Nicolas Mahut in the longest match in tennis history — a five-set grueling match that lasted 11 hours 5 minutes and took place over three days in June 2010.
Court 18 is the only court you are able to stand next to the grass. You are not able to stand on the grass of any courts due to the wear and tear that tour traffic can cause. Perennial Ryegrass has been used since 2001 to improve durability and strengthen the top layer of grass. This helps the grass courts to better withstand the increasing wear and tear of the tennis game today. I refrained from standing on the grass court. However, I was very tempted. A fun fact: Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam event to be played on grass courts. It is one of the four tennis Grand Slam events held each year.
My favorite part of the tour was seeing and sitting in a seat at Wimbledon’s famous Centre Court. This is where the finals are played for both men and women. It is considered the world’s most famous tennis court. Its only regular use for play is during the two weeks a year that the Championships take place. Centre Court has a premier box, known as the Royal Box, for use by the Royal Family and other distinguished guests. A retractable roof was installed in 2009, enabling play to continue during rain and after dark with a stopping time of 11 pm.
Fun Facts about Wimbledon:
- 1st Wimbledon championship took place in 1877, making it the oldest tennis tournament in the world.
- All players must be dressed almost entirely in white.
- During the tournament, 54,250 tennis balls are used. Balls are replaced after every 7 to 9 games to make sure they’re in perfect shape throughout the match.
The Scoreboard on Centre Court is one of the more recognizable parts of the court. Its current look closely reflects the original scoreboard installed in the 1950’s. In 2008, the scoreboard installed full color LED screens to provide the spectators on Centre Court a great view of the replays.
I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the inner workings and fun facts of Wimbledon and the AELTC. It was a dream come true. The ultimate dream come true will be to someday see an actual Wimbledon tennis championship on Centre Court. And so, my bucket list continues to grow.