Wimbledon. Need we say more? If tennis was a religion, Wimbledon would be the Mecca or the Vatican. Fans make the pilgrimage from all over the world to attend the tournament, held at one of the world’s oldest tennis clubs and the home of the professional Lawn tennis game.
The Royal palaces enjoyed a game of real tennis, a game made popular in French royal circles, in the 13th century onwards.
In the 1870s, the British began to invent the rules and court dimensions for lawn tennis. Clubs began to spring up and the sport had its first tournaments at the All England Lawn and Croquet club in Wimbledon.
In the 1930s, Fred Perry became one of the greats of the game. With the UK holding the world’s most important tournament and having an influential player such as Perry, the U.K was a tennis hub for a while with other important tournaments on both the womens’ and mens’ tours played there.
In the post war years, British women’s tennis achieved success with Angela Mortimer, Christine Truman, Virginia Wade and Sue Barker all winning slams. Men’s tennis started to catch up in the 1990s when Tim Henman became a top ten player and a regular in the Wimbledon semi-finals. In the 2000s, Andy Murray came onto the tennis scene and in the 2010s he became a slam champion and world No.1.
In 2009, the UK held the Nitto ATP Finals tournament, which has proven to be one of the tour's most respected and anticipated events.
Fred Perry is so iconic he has his fashion label with its instantly recognizable label . Perry won Wimbledon 3 times and won 8 slams in total. He has a statue at the AELTC.
Andy Murray won Wimbledon twice in his career (2013, 2016). He also finished the 2016 season ranked No.1.
Did you know?
Andy Murray is said to have ended a 77 year drought for British mens’ champions when he won Wimbledon in 2013. However, one interesting article from the BBC points out it was in fact 76 years as Fred Perry who won the title in 1936 held the trophy until 1937.
Tim Henman, one of the sport’s last serve and volleyers, was one of the players to watch at Wimbledon in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He reached four semi-finals, in 1998, 1999, 2001 and 2002. Murray Mound, the little hill at Wimbledon where fans sit and watch tennis on a big screen, was in fact once known as Henman Hill.
Other notable players:
In the women’s game, Virginia Wade won three slams and her 1977 Wimbledon title was won in the Queen’s jubilee year when the Queen was celebrating twenty five years of being the monarch. Wade’s win is an iconic moment in British sport.
In doubles Jamie Murray, the brother of Andy, has won seven slam doubles titles and been ranked No.1.
Did you know?
At the end of 2016, Andy Murray and Jamie Murray became the first brothers in tennis history to be ranked No.1 in singles and doubles at the same time.
Britain won the Davis Cup in 2015. They beat Belgium in the final in the city of Ghent.
Murray won Olympic Gold in London and Rio. He also won the mixed doubles Silver in London with Laura Robson.
Wimbledon- strawberries and cream, all white tennis kits, the Center court and its immaculate grass surface; what images are more iconic in tennis? The tournament is considered to be the most prestigious Major in tennis due to its history and status.
The Nitto ATP Finals was played at the O2 in London from 2009 to 2020. Novak Djokovic won the most titles in London, holding the trophy from 2012-2015.
Queens club is one of the oldest tennis clubs in the world, and even has Real Tennis courts. It hosts an ATP warm up grass court tournaments just before Wimbledon.
Older tournaments: Bournemouth was one of the most important tournaments in the world before world war two. It ran from 1924 to 1999 and held both hard and clay court events and both ATP and WTA tournaments. Former champions were Rod Laver, Ken Rosewell, Manuel Orantes,
Brighton held an indoor WTA tournament from 1978 to 1995. From 1996 to 2000, it held an ATP event. Women’s champions included Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Steffi Graf while mens’ champions included Albert Costa and Tim Henman.
Because of the climate which makes outdoor tennis challenging nine months of the year, tennis is often played indoors and most cities and towns have indoor facilities.
The British tennis system has undergone many changes over the last couple of decades and is now more international in its approach to the game. The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) send junior squads to Europe to compete against the best European talent so they are better prepared for the international circuit. They also employ more coaches with professional playing experience on the ITF and ATP tours.
The system is now more focused on keeping promising players close to their homes rather than making them live and train at the national center so they can benefit from local support.
Nigel Sears is a high profile British tennis coach who has worked with Ana Ivanovic, Daniela Hantuchova and Amanda Coetzer. His daughter Kim is the wife of Andy Murray.
Andy Murray’s mother Judy has worked as the British Federation Cup captain and also coached both Andy and Jamie.
Murray himself is a pioneer when it comes to coaching. The Scot started the trend of the ‘super-coach’ when he hired Ivan Lendl to help him achieve his dream of winning a Grand Slam. In addition, he also was the first top male player to hire a female head coach when he worked with Amelie Mauresmo.
One of the U.K’s most well known tennis academies is the National Tennis Centre, run by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA). The Center has won awards for its cutting edge design and features hard courts which are the same surface as the US Open courts.