Inside the grounds, it’s heaven: you’re hit by the sophisticated, well groomed Britishness that the All England Club does so well. —Veteran Wimbledon watcher, Pippa Middleton
by Roger Childs
The oldest and the best?
Wimbledon is the oldest of the four tennis grand slams. The All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club held its first tournament in 1877 and prior to World War One, New Zealand’s greatest tennis player, Anthony Wilding, won the gentlemen’s singles title four times.
It is the only grand slam to be played on grass and inevitably the surface deteriorates as the tournament progresses.
It’s the third major tournament of the year and the English like to think it’s the most important. It is all very proper, good mannered and a little weird: it’s not men’s and women’s singles but gentlemen’s and ladies, and you must wear appropriate white clothing, and that includes everything you’ve got on.
Tradition is a key part of the Wimbledon fortnight. In the seats at one end, fashionable dresses and suits, collars and ties are de rigeur for the rich and famous who attend, and strawberries and cream is the favoured lunch time snack.
The Ralph Lauren fashion house dresses the ball girls and boys in conservative navy blue, and the umpires and line officials are also fashionably attired to provide the right Wimbledon look.
No colour please, we’re English
Undergarments that either are or can be visible during play (including due to perspiration) must also be completely white and contain no more than 1cm of coloured trim. –Wimbledon tournament referee, Andrew Jarrett
At Roland Garros in the fashion capital of the world, the fans are just as interested in what players are wearing, especially the women, as much as the tennis. There is often a blaze of colour in Paris, celadon, blue, and black and white patterns were fashionable this year, but that just won’t do at Wimbledon.
At the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club clothing must be completely white. The rules extend to shorts, skirts and tracksuit bottoms, headwear, shoes and undergarments. A few years ago to get around the only white rule the women wore flamboyant underwear, but Andrew Jarrett knocked that on the head. However, in 2019 a number of the ladies are sporting tattoos. Will they be banned next year?
Into the second week
In next 24 hours the fourth round of singles will be played and already a number of seeds have fallen by the wayside. However the top three men – Novak Djokovic (last year’s champion), Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer – remain. One of these three super stars should win the final. Between them, they have won fourteen of the last sixteen titles.
On the women’s side number one seed, Australian Ashleigh Barty, is a strong contender for the title, however Karolína Plíšková from the Czech Republic and last year’s Roland Garros winner, Simona Halep, are definitely in the running. The latter will play the 15 year old sensation Coco Gauff in the fourth round, and may burst the American’s bubble. Veteran Serena Williams, seeded 11, can also not be discounted to win the Wimbledon ladies singles for the eighth time.
There is plenty of great tennis to come in the second week. One thing is guaranteed –all the players will be dressed in white!