Wimbledon : An Overview
Experience the most prestigious Grand Slam event.
Attending the hallowed grounds of Wimbledon is the pinnacle of any avid tennis fan’s dream. The oldest tennis tournament and the only major played on grass, Wimbledon’s intimate and exclusive venue makes it the most prestigious Grand Slam on the tennis calendar. Travel with SGH to get the royal treatment; access to private hospitality steps away from the All England Club, fantastic seats for Center Court and/or Court No. 1, a chance to play tennis, and so much more. Stay at our hotels located near all the action in central London and take a day trip to some of the many historic landmarks around England.
Why we think you will love it?
Soak up the atmosphere of the world's most famous tennis championships. Wander the outside courts, watch the action on court, savour strawberries and cream - perhaps with a glass of champagne or Pimms - and spot celebrities and players, on our super-value break.
Wimbledon : The History
What has become known simply as Wimbledon, one of the most celebrated sporting events in the world, began life in the 19th century as a infinitely smaller competition bearing almost no resemblance to the modern-day championships watched by a global audience of billions.
Strawberries and cream, television coverage and Henmania are all light years away from the inaugural Lawn Tennis Championships of 1877. For a start, it was an amateur competition and the only event held was the gentlemen's singles.
The first champion was Spencer Gore from a field consisting of only 22 players, it cost just one shilling to watch the final and Gore received 12 guineas for his triumph. It took another seven years before the ladies' singles was inaugurated and from an entry of just 13 players, Maud Watson became the champion. Also in 1884, the gentlemen's doubles began and as the popularity of Wimbledon increased, facilities for spectators improved.
Permanent stands were erected as crowds flocked to see the prowess of British twins, Ernest and William Renshaw, who separately and as doubles partners won 13 titles between 1881 and 1889.
Overseas domination didn't take long
Sadly it did not take too long before overseas players began to threaten the home domination of the championships, American May Sutton becoming the first overseas champion in 1905.
She repeated her success in 1907, the year Norman Brookes of Australia became the first men's champion from overseas.
Since then, only two men from Great Britain - Arthur Gore and Fred Perry - have managed to win the event.
Play was suspended during World War One and in 1920, the new ground at Church Road was bought after efforts to extend the old ground by buying adjoining properties had failed. In 1922, the club moved to Church Road and a new era began. The Centre Court was designed with seating for 9,989 people with standing room for 3,600, a move which helped popularise the game enormously.
By 1924 the old number one court had been opened and the following year a qualifying competition for the championships was necessary for the first time. In 1927 over 22,000 spectators attended on the first Saturday of the championships with 2,000 more turned away.
Vive la France
Such popularity was achieved despite British players playing second fiddle to overseas entrants and each year during the 1920s France produced at least one singles champion. Towards the end of Suzanne Lenglen's reign, the famous Four Musketeers' - Jean Borotra, Jacques Brugnon, Henri Cochet and Rene Lacoste - appeared on the scene and during the next 10 years won six singles and five doubles titles between them.
A landmark was achieved in the championships of 1930 when Brame Hillyard became the first man to play wearing shorts. That was on court 10, and Bunny Austin was the first to do so on Centre Court three years later.
The mid-to-late 1930s were a golden era for British tennis when 11 titles were claimed, including three successive gentlemen's singles titles for Fred Perry and two by Dorothy Round.
Spare a thought though for the ball boys, though, who were dressed in a uniform of grey shirt, long grey trousers and grey felt hat! During World War Two the club remained open and the premises used for a variety of civil defence and military functions such as fire and ambulance services, Home Guard and a decontamination unit.
In October 1940 a bomb struck Centre Court, resulting in the loss of 1,200 seats for the first three meetings after the war and two which fell on Wimbledon Park golf course over the road produced some impromptu bunkers.
Fully restored after World War II
In 1946 play resumed at Wimbledon and by 1949 the grounds were fully restored to their pre-war state.
The American dominance of Wimbledon continued well into the 1950s with Althea Gibson the first black winner in 1957.
From 1956 until the early 1970s, the gentlemen's singles title was virtually the property of Australia and Lew Hoad, Neale Fraser, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and John Newcombe became household names.
The sequence of American wins in the ladies' singles was not broken until 1959 when Maria Bueno of Brazil triumphed.
In the 1960s, Margaret Smith became the first Australian to win the event, while Angela Mortimer and Ann Jones won for Great Britain.
At this stage players were still officially amateurs but were increasingly branded "shamateurs" for receiving financial assistance well in excess of the amounts allowed by the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
The All-England Club proposed in 1959 that the championships be made open to all players but the move was rejected by both the ITF and the LTA.
In 1967 however an invitation tournament to mark the advent of colour television was sponsored by the BBC at Wimbledon. The players included professionals who had won honours at Wimbledon in their amateur days but who had forfeited the right to play in the championships upon turning professional.
Later that year, the LTA voted overwhelmingly to open the championships and in 1968, the first 'open' championships were held. Laver and Billie Jean King were the first such champions.
The following year saw Laver win the singles for the fourth time and one of the greatest games of all time, Pancho Gonzales and Charlie Pasarell contesting a first round match containing 112 games.
The match was all the more remarkable given that it was not until 1975 that chairs were provided for the first time for players to rest when changing ends.
Virginia Wade wins Wimbledon
In 1977, the championships celebrated their centenary with Virginia Wade memorably providing a home triumph in the ladies' singles, the centenary of which was of course not celebrated until 1984.
Then 1979 saw the introduction of tie-breaks at 6-6 in all except the final set of a match and umpires were issued with stopwatches to ensure players did not exceed the time limit when changing ends thanks to their new comfortable seats!
An electronic service-line monitor - later known as Cyclops - was introduced in 1980 but did not prevent Bjorn Borg from winning the title for the fifth time in succession.
The Swede was the first to do so since William Renshaw in the late 1880s when there was a challenge round.
Records of course continue to be broken almost every year both on and off court.
In 1985, 17-year-old Boris Becker of Germany became the youngest player, the first unseeded player and the first German to win the gentlemen's' singles.
In 1987, Martina Navratilova of the United States became the first player to win the ladies' singles six times in succession and in 1990 attained the all-time record of nine victories in the event.
In 1996, Martina Hingis of Switzerland became the youngest-ever champion, winning the ladies' doubles at 15 years, 282 days.
Maria Sharapova will be looking to defend ladies' singles title she won last year aged just 17, making her the third-youngest winner ever.
Roger Federer will be seeking a third consecutive men's' title and the world number one has already set his sights on the four straight wins by Pete Sampras and even the five in a row achieved by Bjorn Borg.
Overview : Augusta
Everybody knows that Augusta National Golf Club is home to the Masters. It’s Georgia’s dream course which is located in a dream-like setting and the nearest most of us will get to teeing it up on the 1st is in the depths of our dreams. Augusta National Golf Club is one of the most exclusive clubs in the world and was designed by the world’s greatest golfer, who teamed up with the world’s greatest architect. Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie were the perfect duo to lay down the perfect course. The Augusta National is the epitome of the type of course which appeals most keenly to the American taste, the meadowland course.
From tee to green there is nothing but closely cropped green turf. These broad expanses of fairway, punctuated with pines and dotted with flashes of white sand, give Augusta a clean, magnificent appearance.