History::All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club

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History

Finals of the Ladies' lawn tennis singles tournament at the 1908 Olympics, at the Club
People sitting on Aorangi terrace, watching main matches on the large screen
Centre Court, Wimbledon (before the retractable roof was installed)
Centre Court with its new retractable roof
No. 1 Court

The Club was founded by six gentlemenUnknown extension tag "ref" at the offices of The Field on 23 July 1868 at the height of a croquet craze<ref>"Anyone for a game of sphairistiké?" 41, The Northern Echo, 27 June 2009, accessed 8 July 2009</ref> as the All England Croquet Club, and held its first croquet competition in 1870. Its original ground was situated off Worple Road, Wimbledon. Croquet was very popular there until the then-infant sport of lawn tennis (a game introduced by Major Walter Clopton Wingfield a year or so prior, and originally called Sphairistikè) was introduced in 1875,<ref>"A Brief History of Wimbledon", The Times of India, 19 June 2008, accessed 8 July 2009</ref> when one lawn was set aside for this purpose.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=citation }}.</ref> The first tennis Gentlemen's Championship in Singles was held in July 1877, when the Club changed its name to The All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club. That year at Wimbledon service was underarm. The champion, Spencer Gore, opined that "Lawn tennis will never rank among our great games."<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=citation }}.</ref> In 1878 the height of the net was altered to {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} at the posts and {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} at the centre.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=citation }}.</ref> In 1882, croquet was dropped from the name, as tennis had become the main activity of the Club. But in 1899 it was restored to the Club's name for sentimental reasons, and the Club's name became The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

In 1884, the Club added Ladies' Singles and Gentlemen's Doubles, and then in 1913 Ladies' Doubles and Mixed Doubles.<ref>"About Wimbledon Championships", China Radio International English, 17 June 2005, accessed 8 July 2009.</ref> For the 1908 Summer Olympics, the venue hosted the Grass Courts tennis events.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=citation }}.</ref> The early Club colours were found to be almost identical to those of the Royal Marines, so they were changed in 1909 to the present Club colours of dark green and purple.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=citation }}.</ref> The popularity of Frenchwoman Suzanne Lenglen was largely responsible for forcing the Club to move to larger grounds at its present site in Church Road, Wimbledon, in 1922,<ref>"Women's fashion hits the courts", BBC, 19 June 1998, accessed 8 July 2009</ref> where its first Championship was "plagued by rain each day".<ref>{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Category handler|main}}{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}[dead link] }} Worrall, Simon, "Mice and Mist and Mirthlessnis Mix at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club", Salon, 7 August 1998, accessed 7 September 2009</ref>

The current Centre Court dates from that year. It has been improved and extended on several occasions. Most recently a sliding roof was added in time for the 2009 Championships. In 1924 the old No. 1 Court opened on the west side of Centre Court. During World War II The Championships were suspended but the Club remained open with a much smaller staff, and was used for fire and ambulance services, British Home Guard, and a decontamination unit, and troops stationed nearby drilled on the main concourse. At 5:20 p.m. on October 11, 1940, five 500 pound German bombs struck the grounds, demolishing 1,200 seats in Centre Court.<ref>{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Category handler|main}}{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}[dead link] }} About Wimbledon – History – Wartime Wimbledon," Wimbledon.org, accessed 7 October 2009</ref> The old No. 1 Court was replaced with the current No. 1 Court in 1997, and the Broadcast Centre was built at the same time. Shortly afterwards, the Millennium Building, which houses facilities for players, press, officials and members, was built on the site of the old No. 1 Court.

The Church Road site initially extended only as far north as Centre Court. In 1967 the All England Club purchased {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} to the north. This was leased to the New Zealand Sports and Social Club and became known as Aorangi Park (Aorangi means "Cloud Piercer", and is the Māori part of Aoraki/Mount Cook; "Aorangi" is the standard Māori spelling and "Aoraki" is used in the Māori dialect in the vicinity of the mountain). It is most commonly known as 'Henman Hill' because of the popularity of former British tennis player, Tim Henman. Initially the only use that the All England Club itself made of this new land was for car parking during The Championships, but in 1981 the New Zealanders' lease was terminated, and the Club has developed most of the area for its own purposes.

The All England Club, through its subsidiary The All England Lawn Tennis Ground plc, issues debentures to tennis fans every five years to raise funds for capital expenditure.<ref>"About Wimbledon Debentures," The All England Lawn Tennis Ground, accessed 29 June 2009</ref> The original debentures were issued in 1920. Each debenture provides a pair of tickets for each day of the tournament for five years. Only debenture holders are legally permitted to sell on their tickets to third parties.

The Club was the venue for the tennis event at the 2012 Summer Olympics.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=citation }}.</ref><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=citation }}.</ref>


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