Looking Forward To The Upcoming Wimbledon Championships

By: Shaun Parker

June and July 2008 will see the most prominent and prestigious of all tennis tournaments take place in the at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London. The tournament is of course Wimbledon and there is no other event in the tennis calendar that achieves the universal appeal of this tournament and it ranks as the most desired of all of the tennis titles from the perspective of the players. The history of this great tournament lends a great deal to its popularity. The tournament was first played in 1877 at which time it was held solely as a competition between men. Over the many years since its inception the tournament has developed enormously.

Alongside the defining men's tournament it now hosts a ladies singles tournament, men's doubles, mixed doubles and ladies doubles. It has also moved to a new home. Initially the tournament took place in the Walpole venue in London but the club and tournament has subsequently moved to a larger dedicated venue that has 19 courts which include two of the largest capacity tennis courts in the UK.

Wimbledon is famed for its high quality grass courts. Grass provides far less bounce to the ball as occurs on hard and clay courts and as a result the style of tennis that succeeds well on grass is different to that on the other surfaces. The Wimbledon championships have long been the favourite of serve and volley players. The courts are seeded with a type of grass, rye grass, which is particularly robust and provides a low level of bounce.

The Wimbledon venue contains two massive courts that have enormous spectator capacity. Centre Court and Court Number One both contain a large number of seats for their spectators. Court Number One holds an impressive 3,000 spectators and Centre Court can house an unbelievable 14,000 people. Both of these stadiums are reserved solely for use at the Wimbledon tournament. The other 17 courts are used throughout the year for tournaments that are held in the general season. Both 'show courts' (centre court and court number one) are expected to be used in the upcoming 2012 London Olympics.

The Wimbledon tournament is also recognised for employing a strict dress code. This is uncommon in other tournaments and adds to the prestige and reputation of the event. Players are expected to wear plain white clothing whilst on court and this was the case with the ball boys, ball girls and match officials. Recently these people have worn navy blue and cream and their uniforms have been designed by American designer Ralph Lauren.

This rule has caused a great deal of controversy and in 1990 American tennis player Andre Agassi used this rule as an excuse not to play in the tournament. This move was widely criticised by the tennis world and the organisers refused to change their rules and regulations.

In recent years the prize fund for the tournament has reached incredible figures. The winner of the men's title can receive an enormous 700,000 pounds. Recently the women have received the same prize fund for victory despite playing less tennis than the men and delivering significantly less entertainment.

The men also receive a large cup and the women receive a magnificent silver plate which is known as the 'venus rosewater dish'. The Duke if Kent usually presents this tournament to the respective winners. The Duke of Kent is the president of the All England Club.

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