The most prestigious grand slam event of the Tennis world went underway yesterday, 20 June, and will finish in two weeks on 03 July.
You might already know that Wimbledon is the only grand slam event played on grass, but did you know that the first Wimbledon took place in 1877 solely as an amateur competition? Also, only men’s singles were played. The 22 competitors played in front of a few hundred spectators. Spencer Gore was the winner of this very first Wimbledon championship. Women’s singles and men’s doubles only began seven years later, in 1884.
This year, it will be the 125th time that The All England Lawn Tennis Club will have hosted the Wimbledon Championship. Did you also just notice that the maths doesn’t add up? That’s because there were no Championships held between 1915-1918 and 1940-1945 due to the First World War and Second World War.
The less famous but yet extremely important participants of the championship are the approximately 300 ball boys and girls (BBGs) who are running around the courts and make sure the matches run smoothly. Have you ever thought about suggesting the job to your own children or nephews and nieces?
You might be surprised to learn that not everyone can simply apply to be a BBG, but prospective candidates have to first be nominated by their school headteachers. To be selected, a candidate must pass a range of tests: written tests on the rules of tennis, fitness, mobility and other suitability tests. Successful candidates start training in February and only then the final BBGs are chosen through continual assessment. The training includes weekly sessions of physical, procedural and theoretical instruction, to ensure that the BBGs are fast, alert, self confident and adaptable to situations.
If you intend to visit Wimbledon but don’t have a ticket yet, you might still stand a chance to attend, as Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam tournament where fans can queue up and still get seats on Centre Court, Court 1 and Court 2. Similar to the recruitment of the BBGs, also the fans’ motivation is being tested as queuing overnight is normally necessary to get into the show courts. If you are less adventurous, you can also try to be amongst the lucky ones who get a ticket, which has been returned by people leaving early. Those go on sale daily at 2:30pm and the money goes to charity.
Our staff at Thistle Marble Arch has been ‘infected’ by the Tennis fever and Front of House staff as well as all our public areas have been dressed up in purple and green, the official Wimbledon Colours.