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What is Wimbledon?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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The Championships, Wimbledon is a prestigious tennis event which makes up one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments. Since “the Championships, Wimbledon” is a bit of a mouthful, most people refer to this prestigious tennis competition simply as “Wimbledon.” This event attracts premier tennis players from all over the world, and it is attended with global media coverage. Tennis fans also travel from numerous locations across the globe to see Wimbledon in person, while fans at home keep track of events on the television and through radio broadcasts.

Wimbledon has been hosted by the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club since 1877, making it the oldest continuously running tennis tournament. The event is hosted on the All England Club's courts in Wimbledon, a district of Southern London, and it is the only Grand Slam event hosted on natural grass. Traditionally, the tournament takes 13 days, starting on the Monday in June which falls between the 20th and the 26th, with players taking the middle Sunday of the tournament off.

128 individuals compete in gentleman's and ladies' singles, with 64 pairs participating in gentleman's and ladies' doubles, and an additional 48 couples competing in mixed doubles. Winners of the gentleman's singles receive an ornate gilt cup, while women receive the Rosewater Dish, a massive silver platter. Winners in other events are given silver cups, with runners up entitled to silver plates. The singles tournaments are typically the most interesting for viewers and the media, featuring the current stars of the tennis world playing in each other. As you might imagine, the Wimbledon schedule is quite grueling for the athletes.

Spectators can purchase tickets for Wimbledon, and they also line up at the gates for a chance at the limited open seating. Attendees of Wimbledon are typically encouraged to wear reasonably formal attire out of respect for the event, while the athletes are expected to wear tennis whites, with no more than five percent of their garments in a contrasting color. Supporting staff such as ball boys and girls and referees also have a dress code.

In addition to Wimbledon, the United States Open, Australian Open, and French Open are also considered Grand Slam tournaments. Athletes who manage to take the titles in all four Grand Slam events are considered to be the finest in the world; the Grand Slam is like the Triple Crown of the tennis world.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By MrMoody — On Jul 02, 2011

@Izzy78 - My son started playing tennis years ago and loves watching Wimbledon tennis matches and the Australian open. We ordered the tennis channel from the local cable TV station just so he could watch these programs.

He’s racked up a few first place wins in local tournaments he’s played in, and seems pretty dedicated to the sport, although lately he’s discovered that it comes with its own risks.

He’s developed a mild case of tennis elbow so we’ve had him stay home awhile and recuperate, but he still watches the pros on television and will soon be back on the courts again, going for another trophy.

By Izzy78 — On Jul 02, 2011

I am not a huge follower of tennis, but I enjoy watching matches from certain players.

I have seen quite a few games from Wimbledon, but I had never realized there was a dress code. The players have gotten very creative at making the most of the 5 percent of color they can have.

As I said, I only loosely follow tennis. In NASCAR, certain drivers are said to race better on certain tracks. Are there any players who are widely accepted to have dominated the Wimbledon finals on a regular basis?

By jcraig — On Jul 01, 2011

@Emilski - Welcome to the world of tennis. It is an extremely fun and relaxing sport, and I hope you learn to enjoy it as much as I do.

I have only recently started watching the Wimbledon tennis tournaments. As for the grass, I'm with you. I assume it has been there from the beginning, and like most major sporting events, it is tradition. It also adds some variety as the only event with grass.

As for player selection, there is a worldwide ranking system that is used to pick most of the players. I also believe there are few spots that are left open for amateurs. I'm not sure if anyone else is allowed into the tournament except people in those groups.

By Emilski — On Jun 30, 2011

I have recently started playing tennis and am trying to learn more about the different events that are on TV.

Why is this the only Grand Slam event that uses grass? My guess is that it out of tradition, but that is just a guess. Also, how are players chosen for the tournament? Is there some kind of a ranking system, or are there qualifying tournaments?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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