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Wimbledon - the Tennis Fan’s Heaven

Wimbledon is the oldest and possibly the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world.

Organised by the All England Lawn Tennis Club it is the only major international tennis tournament which continues to be played on grass.

Each year more than 500,000 people attend the two-week tournament at the end of June to see players from over 60 countries battle for titles, trophies and prize money.

Things have certainly changed over the years. The first women to play at Wimbledon were hampered by ankle-length dresses and men wore full length trousers. When Billie Jean King won in 1966 she reportedly received a £25 gift voucher, while Venus Williams more recently received £300,000!

Centre Court Panorama (c) Fraser Reid via Flickr
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The History of Wimbledon

1908 Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Womens Singles - Public Domain via Flickr
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The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club began as a private club in the Wimbledon area of London in 1868, although lawn tennis was only added to the title later as the game was not invented until 1873.

The first Lawn Tennis Championships were played in 1877, by men only, and the winner was Spencer Gore. Around 200 spectators attended, paying the grand price of a shilling for admission. Women's singles matches were added in 1884 and the first winner was Maud Watson.

By the 1880s people were flocking to Wimbledon to watch the tournament and permanent stands were built.

Althea Gibsonís Wimbledon Trophy 1956 (c) Cliff via Flickr
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Players came from the USA and Australia in the early 20th century and the club moved to its present location in 1922 with a new stadium seating 14,000 spectators.

During World War II tennis continued to be played, although Centre Court became a bomb store, troops camped around the site and a small farmyard was established. Things returned to normal by 1949 and Wimbledon has since gone from strength to strength.

Wimbledon Today

From its humble beginnings as a garden party tournament, Wimbledon has become one of the premier tennis tournaments in the world. Still run by the All England Lawn Tennis Club, the Wimbledon Championships celebrated its centenary in 1977.

Visitors can take a guided tour of the club grounds and visit the impressive museum which has many fascinating tennis exhibits and treasures on display.

How to Get Tickets to Wimbledon

There is a huge demand for Wimbledon tickets and there are three official ways to get them. A quick search online will come up with many websites selling tickets for Wimbledon, but not all are genuine.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club (c) Jay Galvin via Flickr
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Jill Craybas in Play (c) Bruno Girin via Flickr
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Tennis Wimbledon ( Day 9) 29.06.2011 (c) Phillip Wilson via Flickr
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The best way to apply for tickets is through the Public Ballot which closes December 31st in the previous year. It is oversubscribed so you will not automatically get tickets, and if you do, the day and court will be chosen at random for you.

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) operates official ticket ballots for those who are members of official registered tennis clubs, coaches, school tennis members and other associated groups. Registered British Tennis Members are offered tickets for the final championships through the LTA on a first-come, first-served basis from early June.

If these options fail, you can join the queue outside the turnstiles at Gate 3 where you can buy tickets on the day of play, but you need to be there well before 8.00am (or even the day before - there is a well organised queueing system!), or before 5.00pm for access to the evening matches.

Andy Murray (c) Carine06 via Flickr
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