First Men's Event
The Championships were first played under the control of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in 1877 at a ground near Worple Road, Wimbledon. The event was solely an amateur competition. At this Championships, the only event held was Gentlemen's Singles. Just 22 men entered the Gentlemen's Singles which was eventually won by Spencer Gore.
Women at Wimbledon
In 1884, the All England Club added Ladies' Singles and Gentlemen's Doubles tournaments to the Gentlemen's Singles tournament. The Ladies' Singles competition had 13 entrants, and was won by Miss Maud Watson. The Ladies' Doubles and Mixed Doubles tournaments were added in 1913. Early women players wore full length dresses.
In 1922, the Wimbledon Championships moved from a ground near Worple Road, Wimbledon, to their present location, at a ground near Church Road.
Amateur to Professional
After first rejecting the proposal in 1959, the Lawn Tennis Association voted in 1967 to open The Championships, and in 1968 professionals played against amateurs for the first time. Prior to 1968, Wimbledon was contested by top-ranked amateur players only, although the tournament was closed to contract professional players in 1972.
By 1900, Wimbledon had become an international tournament. The first overseas winner was May Sutton of the United States who was the Ladies' Champion in 1905 (and again in 1907). Australian Norman Brookes became the first foreign Gentlemen's Champion in 1907. Since that time, much to the lament of the English, only two British players, Arthur Gore and Fred Perry, have managed to win the Gentlemen's event.
With the advent of regular passenger air travel in the 1950s, more overseas players were able to come to London and compete. From the mid '50s until the early '70s, the Gentlemen's Singles Tournament was dominated by champion Australian players such as Lew Hoad, Neale Fraser, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and John Newcombe.
The first champions of the professional era were Rod Laver and Billie Jean King. In 1980, Bjorn Borg of Sweden became the first player to win the Gentlemen's Singles title five times in succession since William Renshaw in the late 1880s.
- See the list of winners since 1877.
- Wimbledon Trivia
- Tennis Grand Slam History
- US Open History
- Australian Open History