Around half a million spectators now attend
the annual Tennis championships held at Wimbledon tennis club in south London and millions more
watch online or on TV around the world. Wimbledon has become part of the British summer. So
for the two weeks at the beginning of July people who are not sporty at all seem
to become tennis crazy. The parks fill up with fans trying to copy the stars they’ve been
watching on TV. And the Wimbledon championships have a reputation
for being a bit different from the other Grand Slam competitions (the US, the French, the
Australian Opens). And players often say that Wimbledon is the championship that they really
dream of winning. The matches are played on grass rather than hard courts or clay. The
players are dressed entirely in white. There’s a strong feeling of tradition, like eating
strawberries, apparently 38 thousand kilos of strawberries were served up to visitors
last year. And the unpredictable British weather also
adds to the atmosphere. Spectators cross their fingers and hope that the matches won’t be rained
off. You can pay a lot of money to watch the top-ranked players on Number one court or
Central court or it is possible to wander around the outside courts or watch on a
large screen as you eat your picnic on Henman Hill.
This year is the 150th anniversary of the club in Wimbledon that host the Championships.
Its full name is the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. And we’ll take a look
at the surprising origins of this club, as now world-famous, but that started over back
in 1868 with six men who were playing a game that wasn’t even tennis.