1) “A BIT BORING…”
The inaugural Wimbledon tournament in 1877 was won in straight sets by a cricket player named Spencer Gore. It took the local lad only 48 minutes to defeat William Marshall 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 and claim the prize of a trophy and 12 guineas. As tennis was in its early days, it was hoped the first Wimbledon would be an exhibition for the sport, but Gore was less than enthusiastic. Even though he won, he declared, “Lawn tennis is a bit boring. It will never catch on.”
2) KING AT COURT
When members of the Royal Family attend Wimbledon, they are treated to the best view of the action on Centre Court in the royal box. In 1926, that wasn’t enough for the Duke of York – the future King George VI. He was entered as a competitor in the men’s doubles but his game was not so regal. With his partner, Sir Louis Greig, he crashed out in the first round. That would never have happened in Henry VIII’s day!
3) SURVIVING THE BLITZ
During World War II, the iconic Centre Court was bombed. The tournament was cancelled throughout the war and the grounds were even utilised for the war effort – being used by the emergency services. But in 1940, several bombs hit Centre Court, destroying 1,200 seats. Luckily, there were no casualties.
4) YOUNGEST CHAMP
At just 15 years and 282 days, Martina Hingis became the youngest player to win a Grand Slam title. She won the women’s doubles at Wimbledon, with her partner Helena Sukova, in 1996.
5) COME ON TIM…
For years, it was impossible to walk around the grounds of the All England Club without hearing “Come on, Tim!” everywhere you went. But before Tim Henman was Wimbledon’s golden boy, he did something he desperately wants to forget. He was the first person ever to be disqualified from Wimbledon after hitting a ball girl in the head with a tennis ball. During a doubles match, Henman missed an easy volley and, in frustration, hit a ball at the net. Unfortunately, Caroline Hill was already running across the court and the ball – clocked at 92mph – smashed into the side of the head at point-black range. The mortified Henman was disqualified from the tournament but, as an apology, he presented Hall with some flowers.