Back in Time is ED’s newspaper type column that reports an incident from the past as though it has happened just yesterday. It allows the reader to re-live it several years later, on the date it had occurred.
For this incident, we go back in time to 1877.
Wimbledon, Monday, 09 July: The world’s first lawn tennis championship went underway in Wimbledon, London yesterday. Organized by the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club, the championship that has received participation from all across London has an entry fee of one guinea and will be played on the All England Club’s famous pristine grass lawns.
The Championships began with ten matches on the first day, with every match and participant exhibiting uncharacteristic and consummate skill with their racquets. Played in best-of-five sets, the tournament also marks a considerable deviation from the Lawn Tennis rules prescribed by the MCC, including play in a rectangular court and a modified scoring procedure. However, contrary to popular expectations, many squash players reigned triumphant, leaving their regular tennis playing opponents licking their wounds.
“The championship looks poised for some delightful knockout rounds,” remarked Roger, a local resident of Wimbledon. “I hope Charles Heathcoate wins it though. He owes me five shillings.”
Organizers of the event, the All England Club are relieved by the attendance on the first day, and are confident of attracting a larger audience as the tournament proceeds. “The finals of the championships will be held on the 16th of the month. We are expecting a lot more people that day so the Club is occupied with creating more space for the people in attendance,” said Philip Lewis, the head groundsman at the Club. “However, we are worried about possible rains leading up to the final.”
As of now, it would seem that the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club have done a fine job renewing interest in a sport, which seemed to have been waning recently. Only time will tell whether Wimbledon and Lawn Tennis will live to see another year.
Post-Scriptum: Over a century since its humble beginnings in a small suburb of London, Wimbledon has attained an almost mythical status among tennis fans, players and otherwise. It is also perhaps the most prestigious grand slam today, with prize money of over £1,880,000 for the winners of the Men’s and Women’s singles competition.
Spencer Gore won the 1877 Wimbledon Championship and also received the cash prize of 12 guineas. His offensive technique using the serve and volley to a great advantage became a popular feature of a great many tennis players that graced Wimbledon later including Bjorn Borg, Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer.
On a personal note, I really do hope that Roger Federer lifts the silver cup once again.