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Ticket Compare > What Makes Wimbledon so Special?

What Makes Wimbledon so Special?

A handful of events in sport have a sense of identity so strong that they stand out from the rest. As iconic as the Monaco Grand Prix, or golf’s U.S. Masters, Wimbledon resembles no other tournament in tennis. We’ll take a look at some of the reasons Wimbledon tickets are absolutely essential. 

Wimbledon’s Long History

Dating back to 1877 Wimbledon is the oldest tennis event in the world. It is hosted by the exclusive All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, a private members’ club founded in 1868. 

Up to 1968 and the advent of the Open Era, the tournament was contested exclusively by amateur players—pros were unable to take part. 

Before that, until 1922 the reigning champion from the previous year only had to play one match, which was the final. It was down to the challenger to progress through the rounds and contend for the right to play against them. 

Wimbledon’s Prestige

On the face of it, all four Grand Slam championships are similar. To the players, they are all worth an equal 2,000 ranking points on the WTA and ATP tours. In terms of prize money, Wimbledon keeps stride with the other landmark tennis tournaments like the ATP and WTA finals, and the U.S. Open. The total is now pushing £50 million, with around £2.5 million awarded to the Ladies’ and Gentleman’s champions. 

The truth is that Wimbledon just feels special. There are many factors, some concrete and some intangible, that contribute to its mystique and elevate it above the other tournaments. 

The top players agree. In the late 1990s the respected French monthly publication, Tennis Magazine, conducted a survey of the 108 top ranked men’s players, asking them what they thought was the most prestigious Grand Slam tournament. The order was as follows:

  1. Wimbledon
  2. French Open
  3. U.S. Open 
  4. Australian Open

Wimbledon tickets come with a momentous sense of occasion. This is the scene of some of the sport’s greatest matches, like Borg and McEnroe’s 34-point tiebreaker in 1980, or Nadal denying Federer a sixth title in a row in a five-hour battle in 2008. 

During the tennis season, players dealing with injuries will schedule their season around this tournament. Even if they miss the French Open a month before, they’ll do all they can to be fit for Wimbledon. 

One big factor that adds to Wimbledon fame is the sheer popularity of the tournament among spectators. As we’ll show you, the demand for Wimbledon tickets outstrips supply by a long way. In the early rounds of other Grand Slams it’s not unusual to see empty seats in the outer courts. At Wimbledon all 18 courts are filled with spectators from the first Monday. 

The Game’s Greatest Players Win at Wimbledon

When it comes to the Champions, it’s usually the more ‘complete’ players who prevail at Wimbledon. In short, if you can win at Wimbledon you can win on any surface, especially hard courts. Conversely, while winning on the clay at Roland Garros is a massive achievement, it’s a tournament historically dominated by clay specialists. 

Here’s a rundown of the players with more than ten Grand Slam titles, showing where they won:

Grand Slam TitlesPlayerAustralian OpenFrench OpenWimbledonU.S. Open
24Novak Djokovic10374
22Rafael Nadal21424
20Roger Federer6185
14Pete Sampras2075
12Roy Emerson6222
11Björn Borg0650
11Rod Laver3242

Notice the absence of zeros in the Wimbledon column It all underlines the notion that history’s greatest and most versatile champions show up at Wimbledon. 

Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam on Grass

A big thing that differentiates Wimbledon from the other three Grand Slams is the surface. Wimbledon is played on lush, carefully manicured grass, trimmed to 8 mm and needing year-round maintenance from a team of 15 permanent grounds including an expert ‘Head of Horticulture’. This gives the tournament a look and spectacle completely different from any other Grand Slam. 

Grass requires a completely unique skill-set from the players. The ball bounces lower, and depending on the weather and time of day can skid off the surface instead of holding up. As opposed to tennis on clay, players can’t slide to get to the ball and need to be more adept at improvising and changing direction suddenly.

Grass puts an emphasis on serve & volley, but also aggression in the rallies, rewarding players who try to hit ‘winners’. No surprise that Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, two aggressive baseline players, have had a lot of success at Wimbledon. 

From 2002 to 2019 the organisers would take these differences into account by calculating the tournament seeding with a one-off surface-based formula. As well as basing it on the players’ world ranking, it would assess players’ performance on grass courts over the two previous seasons. 

This changed in 2020, when the WTA and ATP rankings became the basis for Wimbledon’s seedings. 

What the Greats Say about Wimbledon

Prestige is a difficult thing to quantify. To sum up what Wimbledon means to players we’ve compiled a few quotes from some of the best to ever do it:

There’s a beauty to the court and a tradition that you sense, a ‘feel’ that you learn more about every year…That combination of factors made it feel like you were at the ‘place to be’—the hallowed ground of the sport.

John McEnroe

There is nothing like playing at Wimbledon; you can feel the footprints of the legends of the game—men and women—that have graced those courts.

Venus Williams

Wimbledon will always be the pinnacle of our sport; it’s had the best champions.

Andy Roddick

I’d won the Australian Open twice. But winning Wimbledon takes something special.

Stefan Edberg

Wimbledon’s Royal Connection

All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club enjoys royal patronage, currently via Catherine, Princess of Wales who took over from Elizabeth II in 2016. 

Similar to a celebrity endorsement, Royal Patronages have existed for more than 300 years. Mainly, by having a member of royalty as a figurehead, organisations enjoy an elevated profile and level of credibility. 

The game of tennis has been entwined with England’s royalty for much longer, going back to the 16th century when Henry VIII played real tennis, an early form of the modern game, a few miles from Wimbledon at Hampton Court Palace. 

Wimbledon Etiquette

When it comes to Wimbledon, women aren’t just women; they are “Ladies”, while men are referred to as “Gentlemen”. This is just one aspect of the tournament’s deeply coded etiquette. If a high-ranking member of royalty is present at a court, it’s also normal for the players to bow or curtsy. 

The players must adhere to an all-white dress code, with discreet branding and sponsorship. Introduced in 1963, this rule isn’t as old as you might expect. 

If you do get tickets for Wimbledon, there is no strict dress code to keep in mind. However, torn jeans are a no-no, as are sports shorts. To be on the safe side you should go with a smart casual look, especially if you’re fortunate enough to get Wimbledon tickets for Centre Court or No. 1 Court. 

A Few Wimbledon Facts and Figures

  • 54,250 tennis balls are used throughout the Championships
  • Each day 48 new tins of balls are brought to Centre Court and Court No. 1, with 24 on the remaining courts
  • Some 29,000 bottles of champagne are consumed every Championships
  • The dedicated repairs team fixes 2,000 rackets during the tournament, using 40 miles of string
  • Nine tons of grass seed are used on Wimbledon’s courts every year
  • Factors like court wear and ball rebound are tested every day of the Championships

Some of the Many Unique Traditions at Wimbledon

Whether or not you manage to buy Centre Court tickets for Wimbledon, simply being on the grounds allows you to participate in a few of the things that make Wimbledon, Wimbledon. 

Strawberries and Cream at Wimbledon

This seasonal midsummer treat has been served at Wimbledon every year since 1877. This is another tradition that has its origins in the days of Henry VIII, who was served this dessert around 1509 by his Lord Chancellor, Thomas Wolsey. 

Today, the strawberries are hand-picked and delivered from a farm in the Kent countryside to The Championships each morning. Some 40 tons of strawberries, in 166,000 portions, are consumed at Wimbledon every year. 

Pimm’s at Wimbledon

Wimbledon’s signature cocktail is an English summer-time favourite, anchored by a gin-based liqueur. This is mixed with carbonated lemonade, and garnished with strawberry, orange, cucumber, and lemon, as well as mint or borage. Around 300,000 glasses of this refreshing drink are ordered every Championships.

The Hill at Wimbledon

At the north end of the complex people with access to the grounds can watch the action on a big screen. This is set in front of a large sloping area, officially known as Aorangi Terrace, but which has had a few nicknames over the years, usually related to the most successful British player at the time. This has shifted from Rusedski Ridge in the 1990s, to Henman Hill in the 2000s to Murray Mound in the 2010s. 

Wimbledon’s Middle Sunday

It seems strange now, especially with a schedule as busy as Wimbledon’s, but for almost all of the tournament’s history the Sunday at the end of the first week featured no matches. The Middle Sunday interval existed to give the courts’ delicate grass surfaces a rest. 

The first time there was play on Middle Sunday was 1991, when rain wreaked havoc on the schedule. The atmosphere was like nothing seen at Wimbledon before, with a boisterous crowd likened to something from a “soccer” game by John McEnroe.

The Middle Sunday interval was finally scrapped in 2022 to ease the pressure on the schedule.  

Some Unforgettable Wimbledon Moments

Boris Becker Becomes the Youngest Gentlemen’s Singles Champ

The German’s glittering tennis career was launched off the back of winning Wimbledon in 1985 at the age of just 17. By defeating Kevin Curren in four sets, he became the youngest ever male singles Grand Slam champion, although this record would be broken by Michael Chang at the 1989 French Open. 

People’s Monday, 2001

A tournament like no other, the 2001 Championships went into a third week due to rain—the semi-final between Goran Ivanesevic and Tim Henman required three days to finish. Playing on a Monday meant that some 10,000 tickets were suddenly available for the Gentlemen’s final, on a first come, first served basis. The day was dubbed People’s Monday, and the fans who got in witnessed a late-career, injury-wracked Goran Ivanišević hauling himself over the line in five sets against Pat Rafter.

John Isner vs Nicolas Mahut, 2010

The longest tennis match in history played out on Court 18 in the first round of the 2010 Championships. American 23rd seed Isner met the French qualifier Mahut, in a match that began on the Tuesday at 6:13 PM and wouldn’t be concluded until Isner took the win on the Thursday at 4:47 PM. There was a total of 11 hours, 5 minutes of play, most of which was taken up by giant, 70—68 fifth set, needing 8 hours and 11 minutes. 

Who Has Won the Most Singles Titles at Wimbledon?

The player with the most Gentlemen’s singles championships at Wimbledon is Roger Federer, with eight. This includes an extraordinary five-year unbeaten run from 2003 to 2008. 

Martina Navratilova is the player with the most ladies’ wins, claiming nine titles from 1978 to 1990. 

More about the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club

The club hosting The Championships, Wimbledon predates the event by a few years. Over the last 150+ years this facility has expanded to 18 competition grass courts, 7 American clay courts, 6 indoor courts, and an additional 22 outdoor grass courts in the adjoining Aorangi Park for practice.  

In case you’re wondering, it’s almost impossible to become one of the 375 full members at the club. For one thing, you need letters of support from four existing full members. All of them need to have known you for at least three years. 

If you visit the club outside the period around The Championships you can stop by the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum, billed as the largest tennis museum in the world. This goes into depth on the history of the event, the most iconic moments, and the many one-of-a-kind traditions.

You can also take a 90-minute tour of the grounds, seeing everything you could only hope to see as a spectator, from changing rooms to media areas. 

Buying Tickets for Wimbledon

The Championships have a number of unusual ticketing processes, which we’ll cover in more detail on our Wimbledon tickets page. One of these is a ballot system, dating back to 1924, and taking place about eight months before the tournament goes ahead. The Ballot is a kind of lottery, issuing tickets for Wimbledon in the fairest way possible, but with a very low likelihood of success. 

Another is the iconic Wimbledon Queue, in which highly motivated fans queue up all day or overnight for the opportunity to purchase a finite daily ticket allocation. If you want to get Centre Court or Court No. 1 tickets this way, your best bet is to join The Queue the night before and camp out. 

Luckily, Ticket Compare offers tickets via a number of resellers and official hospitality agents, so you can be a part of history without the hassle. 

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Aviran Zazon

Written by Aviran Zazon

The Ticket-Compare Staff is a team of football aficionados and ticketing experts at Ticket-Compare.com, committed to providing top-notch content. From insightful comparisons to the latest news, we ensure fans have reliable information to make informed decisions. Trust us to be your guide in the ever-exciting world of football.