Wimbledon is back! It’s the sporting event that is quintessentially British and even if you’re not into Tennis normally, you’ll inevitably find yourself glued to a TV screen cheering on an upcoming tennis star and thinking you’re an expert in tennis rules.
So, why do we go all in for Wimbledon? At The Belgrave, we love it and we’re so excited to see some of the very best tennis stars as well as see who the new up-and-coming players are and who doesn’t love a good celebrity catch in the crowd. The whole competition brings with it a multitude of traditions and that’s what we love, it’s familiar and genteel and brings the nation together over strawberries and cream.
Ticket sales are done through a ballot a couple of months prior to the event but there are a certain number of tickets available for sale on the day. Plus, even if you head down to Wimbledon on the off-chance of getting a ticket, there are plenty of places to sit and watch it and the mini-festival atmosphere can be pretty amazing.
The History of Wimbledon
Wimbledon, or to give it its formal title, The Championships, Wimbledon, has been part of the summer sporting calendar since 1877. It is hosted by the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club and is one of the most popular of the tennis ‘Grand Slam’ tournaments, as it is the only one still played on grass which helps to provide a faster and potentially more exciting game.
The Championship now has five main competition categories – Men’s Singles and Doubles, Women’s Singles and Doubles and Mixed Doubles as well as four junior and four invitation categories, but this wasn’t always the case. When Wimbledon first began, women were not allowed to take part and so the competition was ‘Gentlemen Singles’ only until 1884 when women were permitted to enter. In 1913, championship status was finally given to the ladies and mixed doubles games which was nearly 20 years after they began at Wimbledon.
Due to the world wars between 1914 – 1918 and 1939 – 1945, the tournament was cancelled but its popularity only grew and soon it became too big to take place at the original venue on Worple Road. It moved in the 1920s to the site at Church Road and has been there ever since.
The tournament has had an array of superstars from The Doherty Brothers who won nine singles and eight doubles titles between them to Fred Perry, who won a trio of men’s titles from 1934. Althea Gibson was the first black player to win a singles title at Wimbledon in 1957 and Billie-Jean King stormed onto the scene along with Margaret Smith and Maria Bueno in 1969.
The 70s saw a storm of greats, just in time for colour television to catch on. Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe all started out. Arthur Ashe became the first black male winner, while Evonne Goolagong was the first Australian Aboriginal champion. The 80s brought Boris Becker, McEnroe arguing with everyone and that famous ‘You cannot be serious’ TV moment. Steffi Graf, a young German burst onto the scene and dominated throughout the late 80s and early 90s.
Pete Sampras was another star of the 90s tournaments along with the fantastic Jana Novotna who quickly stole the hearts of everyone watching when she finally won in 1998. In the 2000s, we saw two sisters become the ones to beat, and 20 or so years later, they are only just retired. The Williams sisters have dominated the women’s singles and doubles and are firm favourites at Church Road. After years of waiting for another British winner, Andy Murray finally did it and beat Novak Djokovic in 2013. Murray, Djokovic, Nadal and Federer became known as ‘The Big Four’ and were constantly battling it out in the Wimbledon finals.
Now, we’re getting into a new era of tennis stars, with the big four mostly retired and the Williams sisters stepping down, it’s time for the stars of the 2020s to come up and be counted.
Who to watch
With Djokovic still going, and hoping to win his 24th Grand Slam title, who is there to serve him an ace or two during the competition? Carlos Alcaraz is one favourite that is a strong contender to keep Djokovic on his toes, at just 20 years old the Spanish star is currently ranked no.1 in the Association of Tennis Professionals and is looking for his second-ever Grand Slam win.
Iga Swiatek is favourite to win the women’s singles but there are one or two players that could challenge her. Beatriz Haddad Maia is one of the top women to watch, as battles to come back from an opening round shocker at the Nottingham Open, she’s already through to the next round with the potential to really go the distance and get through to the second week of this Grand Slam.
Elena Rybakina is another one to look out for, the reigning champion of last year is back to defend her title but Swiatek is working hard to become the top of the leaderboard on grass, a surface that hasn’t been able to give her the edge she so loves in Grand Slams.
Wimbledon is on between the 3 and 16 July – look out for various spots in London that may be showing matches, including parks and Wimbledon itself if you want to head down to SW19 to soak up the Grand Slam atmosphere and see if you can bag a couple of tickets for Centre Court. To have somewhere to stay and relax while you enjoy the Grand Slam tournament, book a room at The Belgrave and enjoy all that London has to offer during Wimbledon.
Book your stay at The Belgrave today
We hope you enjoy watching Wimbledon as much as us this summer. We are only half an hour away from the Wimbledon tennis courts by public transport. To stay at the Belgrave during this time, you can book your room now.