A tennis court is a specially made, rectangular surface with a grass or clay base and a smooth covering of white paving on which the game of tennis is played. Tennis courts measure 18 meters in width by 36 meters in length. A net is attached across the middle section to divide the two playing areas. Outside the lines marking out the area at each end of the court are short picket fences called baselines. These mark where players can hit their ball from on their own side without it being judged as ‘out’. The line dividing one side from another is known as an alley or alley.
The Wimbledon Championship
The first Wimbledon Championship took place on 9 July 1877 and was won by Spencer Gore (center). The original center court which was built in 1877 had a covered wooden stand at either end and a pair of wooden picket fences dividing the playing area from the rest of the ground. As well as being used for Tennis, Horse-racing also took place on this site until 1882.
In 1922 the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) replaced these wooden stands with a steel structure which is still used today. At this time a single-tier stand was built around three sides of Centre Court replacing both sets of stands to improve viewing for spectators – since then only small changes have been made to make it one of the most recognized courts in the world. In 1997 engineers working on Court made improvements to allow them to host the Tennis in the 2012 Olympic Games. More about this work in the SPOT Journal and in case studies on How it all Works.
Wimbledon and its owner
Wimbledon is owned by The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) which was founded in 1868, making it one of the oldest sports clubs in existence today. As well as owning the Championships, the AELTC also looks after 27 grass courts across London. More about our grass courts here.
The origins of Wimbledon are unknown but there has been a sporting event played on these grounds since at least medieval times, when students from Winchester College would play their rivals from Eton College near where Centre Court now stands. It is believed that the game was originally played in crude caged courts, and it wasn’t until 1872 that a group of young gentlemen who were members at Worple Road decided to lay down proper tennis courts. Situated down the road from Worple Road, MacKenzie Tennis Club, which is now based at Roehampton Club.
After an exhibition tournament on 21–22 July 1877 run by Mary Erskine Chambers called ‘The Championship Meetings: Wimbledon and Putney Heath, the first official competitive tournament began on 9 July 1877, with 12 competitors taking part for £100 in prize money. The winning players received 12 silver cups and one of them still remains today – awarded to Norman Brookes who won the Gentlemen’s Singles in 1902.