As this year’s Wimbledon Championship ends, let’s celebrate the tournament’s beginning. On 9 July 1877, the first ever Wimbledon event—the Gentlemen’s Singles—was held. Spencer Gore, a former cricketer, won out of a field of 22. Two hundred spectators paid one shilling apiece to watch the event.
The event, of course, was held at the All England Tennis and Croquet Club, which was founded as the All England Croquet Club in 1868. In 1876, a year or so after its invention by Major Walter Clopton Wingfield, tennis was added to the club’s activities and in the spring of 1877 the club was re-titled The All England Croquet and Tennis Club. To celebrate the name change, they instituted the first Lawn Tennis Championship, drawing up a new code of laws that are very similar to the rules still in use today.
By the early 1880s, lawn tennis was the predominant activity at the club, and in 1884 Ladies’ Singles and Gentlemen’s Doubles were added. Ladies’ Doubles and Mixed Doubles joined in 1913. The club moved to its present home on Church Road in 1922, and the Championship was first televised in 1937.
Today, Wimbledon is considered to be one of the, if not the premier tennis tournaments in the world. It’s the oldest tennis tournament in the world and is one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, along with the Australian Open, French Open, and US Open. Though Andy Murray tried this year, the last time a British man won the singles event was in 1936, when Fred Perry defeated Gottfried von Cramm in the quickest final of the 20th century (second quickest of all time). The last British woman to win the singles event at Wimbledon was Virginia Wade in 1977.