Wimbledon Championships 2008

By: Shaun Parker

The 23rd of June to the 6th of July 2008 will see the return of the most prestigious tournament in Tennis; Wimbledon. The oldest tennis tournament in the world runs for two weeks every year at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, UK. The competition was first played in 1877 and was initially just for men. The competition has since developed to include ladies singles, men's doubles, ladies doubles and mixed doubles. It has also moved from its original location in Walpole London to a large venue that contains 19 courts.

All of the venues 19 courts are seeded with rye grass which provides speed and a low level of bounce. As a result the championship has long been a favourite of serve and volley players. The venue contains the two largest spectator capacity courts in England; Court Number One and Centre Court. Centre Court holds 14,000 whilst plans have been made to extend the capacity of court number one from 3,000 to 4,000 in 2009. These two courts are reserved for use for the two weeks of the tournament with the further 17 accommodating games from the general season. In 2012 the show courts are set to be used during the 2012 London Olympics.

One aspect that sets the tournament aside from the others is that there is a strict dress code employed by the club. The traditional colours of Wimbledon are dark green and mauve. Recently the clothing worn by officials, ball boys and ball girls have been designed by Ralph Lauren and are navy blue and cream. The players are required to wear white clothing during matches. In 1990 Andre Agassi used this strict dress code as an excuse not to play in the tournament.

The winner of the Gentlemen's singles title receives a cash prize of 700,000 pounds as does the Ladies singles winner. The men also receive a 18.5 inch high silver gilt cup which bears an inscription that includes the words 'single handed champion of the world'. Conversely the women's champion receives a silver plate known as the 'Venus Rosewater Dish'. The winners are typically presented with their trophy by The Duke of Kent who is the president of the All England Club.

No British player has won the competition since Virginia Wade scooped the women's singles title in 1977. The last British man to win the men's singles was Fed Perry in 1936. Recently anticipation from British fans has surrounded British contenders such as Tim Henman, Greg Rusedski and more recently Andrew Murray. Fans have named a hill on which they can watch the games after each of these British hopes to reflect their favourite at the time. Initially named 'Henman hill' it has also been titled 'Rusedski ridge' and more recently 'Murray mound'.

The Brit William Renshaw shares the honour of holding the most Wimbledon titles with the American Andre Agassi, both have won 7 titles. In the modern era Bjorn Borg and Roger Federer have both won 5 consecutive titles. Federer will be the first to hold 6 consecutive titles in the modern era if he wins this year. The Australian Todd Woodbridge has won 9 doubles titles. In the women's game Martina Navratilova has won an astonishing 9 singles titles alongside 7 doubles titles.

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