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Richly steeped in tradition, the Wimbledon Championships is the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world. It has been held at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, London, since 1877, and is considered one of the premier events in all of sports.
The Wimbledon Championships, also informally known as the British Open, is one of the four major, or Grand Slam tennis events, the others being the French Open, the Australian Open, and the U.S. Open. Wimbledon is the only major to be played on grass, the original surface for lawn tennis.
Wimbledon is synonymous with tennis. The game of lawn tennis was added to the activities of the All England Croquet club shortly after the game was originally devised in nearby Birmingham. The rules that were devised for the club are almost identical those of modern tennis.
As deference to history, there are many time-honored traditions that are strictly observed at Wimbledon. The competitors, both male and female, must abide by a strict dress code. The event is attended by British Royalty, who, along with the other spectators, eats strawberries and cream as a traditional dish. Proper etiquette reigns; for example, married female players are always referred to by their husband’s surnames. These traditions lend Wimbledon an air of prestige not present in other major sporting events.
The Championships, Wimbledon, as the event is properly called is held every summer and awards trophies in Gentlemen’s Singles, Ladies’ Singles, Gentlemen’s Doubles, ladies’ Doubles, and Mixed Doubles. The Gentlemen’s Trophy is an 18-inch silver gilt cup, and the Ladies’ Trophy is a silver salver known as the Venus Rosewater Dish.
Many players’ define their legacy by their participation and success at Wimbledon. It is true that those players who have won trophies there have forevermore been elevated to the pantheon of tennis immortals. Here are a few notable tennis legends that have enjoyed particular success when playing at Wimbledon during the Open Era.
In the Gentlemen’s Singles, the Open Era record is shared by Pete Sampras and Roger Federer who have won seven titles apiece. However, that record is in some jeopardy because Sampras is retired, while Federer won most recently in 2012. Federer also shares the record for most consecutive singles titles, five, a record he shares with his fellow Swiss, Bjorn Borg. In 1976, Borg became the only player in the Open Era to win the championship without losing a set the entire event.
In the Ladies’ Singles, Martina Navratilova took home an incredible nine singles trophies, winning six consecutive championships at one point. Four times, she won the event without losing a set.
Narvatilova was also accomplished as a Ladies’ Doubles champion, winning seven titles. That doesn’t quite match the accomplishments of one of her partners, Billie Jean King, who won an amazing ten titles! Even the most awarded gentlemen’s Doubles champion, Todd only won a mere nine.
The Wimbledon Championships remain the ultimate accomplishment for players around the world. As the tournament is well into its second century, it shows no sign of diminishing in either popularity or prestige.
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