What's Floating Around

What’s Floating Around Cloud 9? 3 July 2017

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Welcome to another week and with the start of Wimbledon, our #VenueTipoftheDay is all about Hotels in the area. That combined with our recent addiction to the Great British Menu which has seen chefs from all over the UK compete to cook at a Banquet celebrating 140 years of Wimbledon has ignited our passion for tennis!

Then we realised that even though we specialise in corporate hospitality for tournaments like Wimbledon, we know very little about it! So, with a little digging and a bit of research here is the Cloud 9 guide to the oldest tennis tournament in the world….

The Championships, Wimbledon, or just Wimbledon as it is more commonly referred to, is both the oldest tennis tournament in the world and probably the most famous. Since the first tournament in 1877, The Championships have been hosted by the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon,and of  the four major annual tennis tournaments known as the ‘Grand Slams’, Wimbledon is the only one to still be played on grass, which is where the name lawn tennis originated.

Grass is also the surface which provides the fastest game of tennis, so there is something else we didn’t know!The Australian Open and the US Open are both played on hard courts and the French Open is played on clay.

The first year of the Championships took place without much little fanfare. The All England Club had originally been called the All England Croquet Club when it opened in 1869, but as the new game of lawn tennis – an offshoot of the original indoor racket sport known as ‘real tennis’ – began to grow in popularity at the end of the nineteenth century, the club decided to provide tennis courts for their visitors. On 14 April 1877 the Club introduced the first of a number of name changes to become the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club.

Unlike today’s tournament, which involves four junior and four invitation competitions alongside the five main contests – the men’s single and double matches, the women’s single and double matches and the mixed doubles – the first Wimbledon championships had one event, the Gentleman’s Singles.

As it was not allowed for women to enter the tournament in 1877, the first Wimbledon champion from a group of twenty-two male competitors was twenty seven year old Spencer William Gore. In front of a crowd of 200, who had paid a shilling apiece to attend, Gore beat his opponent William Marshall in a decisive 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 defeat lasting only forty-eight minutes. As would also be the tradition for many Wimbledon tournaments to follow until a retractable roof was installed over centre court in 2009, the final was postponed due to rain. When it was eventually played three days later the weather conditions had not greatly improved. Where was Cliff Richard when they needed him?!

The game of lawn tennis was still in its infancy at this stage, with players using basic handmade equipment and imprecise strokes, unlike the slick powerful serves and top of the range rackets we see today. However, modern day Wimbledon spectators would be sure to recognise many of the rules of the game which were first introduced by the All England Club’s Committee in 1877 as an adaptation of those put in place by the Marylebone Cricket Club, perversely the then controlling body of ‘real’ tennis.

Whilst no tournaments were held at Wimbledon during 1915-1918 and 1940-1945 because of the First and Second World Wars, the game continued to grow in popularity. In 1884 the men’s doubles competition was introduced and the same year women were also invited to join the tournament. In the fifties the club moved from its original rented site on Worple Road to the larger, present day Church Road site and in 1967 the tournament made history when the event became the first broadcast to ever be televised in colour.

The accepted outfit of choice for Wimbledon players in the nineteenth century was plain white long-sleeved shirts and trousers for men and full-length corseted white dresses and hats for women. It was not until the 1920s and 1930s that the players, and particularly the female players, began to experiment with their clothing. Shorter skirts, shorts and sleeveless tops were all introduced, some more daringly than others, to provide ease of movement and a sense of individual personality. As far back as the nineteen thirties the French grand slam winner René Lacoste promoted his own eponymous label by wearing his crocodile emblazoned shirts whilst on court.

However, today Wimbledon is besieged with the current sports logos of choice as tennis outfits seem to be less about comfort or individuality and more often than not, a result of the multi-million pound sponsorship deals with sportswear giants. Indeed even the ball boys and girls have left behind the traditional Wimbledon colours of green and purple and have sported navy and cream uniforms created by the American fashion designer Ralph Lauren since 2006.

Although much has changed since the Wimbledon Championships were first introduced in 1887, today when we think of Wimbledon fortnight there are a number of traditional images that still spring to mind. The obligatory strawberries and cream (of which it is estimated that 28,000 kilos of English strawberries and 7000 litres of cream are consumed each year!), the white or almost all white dress code which is still a requirement, or the strong ties with the Royal family to name but a few. All of which combined continue to preserve Wimbledon’s place both in British heritage and at the forefront of the tennis world.

So there you have it, Wimbledon all wrapped up!

Have a great week, enjoy the tennis and remember that if you need a venue in or around the area, then our free venue finding service is always available!