Wimbledon Chronology since 1878

Published June 25th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

This year's Wimbledon will see the 114th men's and the 107th women's championships contested before around half a million spectators at the All England Club - despite an official tally of about 400 members. 

It's all a far cry from the first Wimbledon Championships, held at the old Worple Road ground in south-west London in 1877. 

On that occasion, just 200 people watched 22 players battle it out for the first men's title. And only 30 of those spectators had the luxury of a seat. 

Each competitor had to pay a one guinea entry fee, 180 tennis balls were provided, and the first champion, Englishman Spencer Gore, won a twelve guinea voucher. 

He was also presented with a silver challenge cup, valued at 25 guineas, by the proprietors of 'The Field' magazine, while the runner-up earned seven guineas. 

In the next two weeks, prize money at the 2000 championships will total a record 8,056,480 pounds (12,900,000 dollars) and the winner of the men's singles will pocket 477,500 pounds, compared to 409,500 for the women's winner. This an increase of 6.1 percent over last year. 

 

CHAMPIONSHIP MILESTONES:  

1878: 'Overarm' serves make their first appearance and nearly 700 people watch Gore lose his title to compatriot Patrick Hadlow. 

1884: The first women's singles and men's doubles events are played. Maud Watson takes the women's crown in a draw, which attracts 13 players while 10 teams compete for the doubles title which goes to James and William Renshaw. It is the first year non-British players take part. Americans James Dwight, Arthur Rives and Richard Sears are in the draw. 

1886: William Renshaw sets the all-time record of consecutive men's singles victories with a sixth triumph.  

1887: Lottie Dod becomes the youngest-ever winner of the women's title at the age of 15 years 8 months. 

1889: William Renshaw sets another all-time record of seven men's singles titles. 

1902: Muriel Robb wins the women's title - but only after playing four sets. Heavy rain halted the final at one set-all and the match was entirely replayed next day with Robb scoring a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Charlotte Sterry. 

1905: May Sutton of the United States becomes the first overseas champion by winning the women's singles. 

1907: Australian Norman Brookes becomes the first non-British player to win the men's singles. 

1908: Charlotte Sterry becomes the oldest player ever to win the women's singles at the age of 37 years 9 months. 

1909: Arthur Gore becomes the oldest winner of the men's singles at the age of 41 years 6 months. 

1921: The Championships are held for the last time at Worple Road before the Club moves to its current Church Road location. Suzanne Lenglen strikes the last ball on centre-court. 

1927: All events are seeded for the first time and South African Ruth Tapscott causes a stir by becoming the first woman to play without wearing stockings. 

1933: Australian Vivian McGrath is the first player to hit double-fisted backhands at the Championships, while Britain's Bunny Austin becomes the first man to wear shorts on centre-court. 

1934: Fred Perry and Dorothy Round win the singles titles - the first British 'double' since 1909. 

1936: Fred Perry wins third consecutive singles crown. 

1938: Helen Moody wins the women's singles for an eighth time and Americans take all five Championship titles. Competitors are given a free tea for the first time. 

1946: Despite problems caused by rationing, players from 23 nations compete in the first post-war Championships. 

1949: Record attendances (25,000 came through the gates on opening day). American Louise Brough plays 117 games and spends over five hours on court when competing in three matches on the final day. 

1961: Two English players contest the women's singles final for the first time since 1914 - Angela Mortimer beating Christine Truman 4-6, 6-4, 7-5. 

1963: Regulations are laid down that players must be dressed predominantly in white. 

1968: For the first time the Championships are 'open', enabling professionals to compete with the amateurs. Prizemoney totals 26,150 pounds. Rod Laver beats fellow-Australian Tony Roche in the men's final and American Billie-Jean King defeats Australia's Judy Tegart for the women's title. 

1969: Rod Laver wins the men's title for a fourth time. Pancho Gonzalez beats fellow-American Charles Pasarell 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9 in the longest-ever Championship match played in the days when the only chair on court is the umpire's. 

1971: Six new court covers are provided to ensure all outside courts can be protected. A tie-break system is adopted whenever the score reaches 8-8 in any set except the decisive final set. Evonne Goolagong beats fellow-Australian Margaret Court in the women's final. 

1972: A dispute between the International Lawn Tennis Federation (ILTF) and World Championship Tennis (WCT) leads to several 'contract' players being banned. Stan Smith of the United States beats Ilie Nastase of Romania in the men's final. 

1973: The suspension of Yugoslavia's Nikki Pilic by the ILTF leads to 80 top men players boycotting the event after being ordered not to play by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). Jan Kodes of Czechoslovakia beats Alex Metreveli of the Soviet Union in the men's final. 

1976: One of the hottest-ever Championships with no rain all fortnight. Sweden's Bjorn Borg wins the first of five consecutive men's titles by defeating Ilie Nastase. 

1977: Centenary Wimbledon. On the opening day 41 surviving singles champions parade on centre-court. Britain's Virginia Wade wins the women's title by beating Betty Stove of the Netherlands in three sets. 

1979: The tie-break regulations are changed to operate at 6-6 instead of 8-8. Umpires are issued with stop-watches for the first time to ensure players do not exceed the time limit during a change of ends. Billie-Jean King of the United States wins the women's doubles to bring her tally of Wimbledon titles to 20 - an all-time record. 

1980: Electronic service-line monitors are introduced. Borg loses a fourth set tie-break 16-18 but comes back to beat American John McEnroe in a 233-minute men's final. It is the Swede's fifth straight title win. 

1982: One of the wettest Wimbledons. Play is disrupted on ten of the 13 days and a rail strike prevents many people from reaching the ground. The All England 'Plate' - a competition for first round losers - is discontinued, and a '35-and-over' men's doubles is inaugurated. 

1984: Centenary of the women's singles, which is won by Martina Navratilova, who beats Chris Evert in straight-sets in the final. 

1985: Boris Becker becomes the youngest-ever men's champion at the age of 17 years 7 months. He beats Kevin Curren of South Africa in the final. 

1986: Yellow balls replace the traditional white ones for the first time. Becker retains his title. 

1989: Rain forces the men's and women's finals to be played on the same day for the first time in the 'open' era. 

1990: Following tragedies at Bradford and Hillsborough football grounds, a new Act of Parliament rules that the centre-court standing section become a seating area. Ground capacity is fixed at 28,000. A bomb scare stops play on centre-court on the first Saturday. Martina Navratilova wins her ninth women's singles title - an all-time record. 

1991: After the wettest-ever first week in which only 52 out of 240 scheduled matches are played, it is decided to play on the first Sunday, traditionally a rest day.  

1992: Andre Agassi wins the men's title beating Croatia's big-serving Goran Ivanisevic in five sets in the final. On the third Monday more than 7,000 spectators come through the gates to watch the end of the men's doubles which was final stopped by bad light in the fifth set. John McEnroe and Michael Stich eventually beat Americans Jim Grabb and Richey Reneberg 5-7, 7-6 (7/5), 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 19-17 in 301 minutes - the longest-ever men's doubles final. 

1993: The 100th women's singles final is won by Steffi Graf, who comes back to beat Czech Jana Novotna 7-6 (8/6), 1-6, 6-4 after trailing badly in the third set. 

1994: Canadian-born French player Mary Pierce is forced to withdraw before the Championship's start because of pressure from British tabloid newspapers threatening to smuggle her banned and estranged father Jim into the grounds. Steffi Graf is beaten in the first round and Conchita Martinez is the surprise new champion after she beats Martina Navratilova in the final. 

1995: Pete Sampras chalks up his third consecutive men's singles victory by beating Boris Becker in four sets. Graf wins her second Grand Slam title of the year after her Roland Garros triumph by beating her old rival Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario of Spain. 

1996: Towering Dutch player Richard Krajicek beats American MaliVai Washington for the men's title after a tournament of upsets during which Wimbledon experiences its first centre-court 'streaker' shortly before the men's final. Steffi Graf defeats Spain's Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario again to take the second of her three 1996 Grand Slam singles titles. Martina Hingis becomes the youngest-ever Wimbledon title winner at the age of 15 years 282 days when she triumphs in the women's doubles alongside Helena Sukova of the Czech Republic. 

1997: Another wet Wimbledon with the new number-one show court being unveiled. Hingis takes the women's singles title for the first time after beating Jana Novotna in the final while Sampras adds a fourth singles crown by defeating Frenchman Cedric Pioline. 

1998: Soccer's World Cup in France provided a distraction but not to Sampras, who cleaned up his fifth singles title to equal Swedish legend Bjorn Borg's tally with victory in five sets over Croat Goran Ivanisevic. After two disappointments Novotna cries for the right reasons this time as she defeats Frenchwoman Nathalie Tauziat to lift the women's crown. 

1999: Sampras makes it six titles with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 win over US rival and French Open champion Andre Agassi. 

The win gives him a record-equalling 12th Grand Slam singles title to emulate Australian Roy Emerson. 

Lindsay Davenport makes it a US double as she wins the women's crown for the first time, ousting Steffi Graf 6-4, 7-5. Graf then announces she will not be back as she retired later in the year – (AFP) 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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