All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club: History
The All England Croquet Club began in 1868 as a private club in the small town of Wimbledon just outside of London. In 1875 Major Walter C.Wingfield introduced a game called lawn tennis, which was immediately popular with club members. The game left such an impression on its members that two years later they decided to rename the club “The All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club.” That same year the inaugural Lawn Tennis Championships were held using several of the same rules and regulations that govern the game today. The first Gentlemen’s Singles champion was Spencer Gore, who bested a field of twenty-two participants.
In 1884 two significant events—the Ladies’ Singles and the Gentlemen’s Doubles—were added to the Championships. Maud Watson came out of a field of thirteen women to take the first Ladies’ Singles Championship, while William and Earnest Renshaw took the Doubles title. At the turn of the century, the Championships began to display a more international flavor. In 1905 May Sutton, an American, became the first non- British player to win the Championships. Two years later, Norman Brookes of Australia became the first foreigner to win the coveted Gentlemen’s Singles title.
To help meet the growing popularity of the Championships, in 1922 the club was moved to its present location on Church Road. The current venue was opened by King George V and funded partly through the reserves of the club. After the move,Wimbledon’s beautiful grounds were able to accommodate over fourteen thousand people. Initial concerns regarding ticket sales for the Championships were quickly dismissed—in fact, ticket demands became so great during the tournament’s first year that tickets had to be allotted using ballots, a system still in use today.