The Centenary of Centre Court
This year the 135th edition of the famous Wimbledon grand slam tournament will take place. The current crop of best tennis players on earth will go head-to-head to win the most sought-after prizes in the tennis world. What will make Wimbledon extra special this year is that right at the heart of this astonishing venue, Centre Court will celebrate its 100th anniversary.
Apart from the world class tennis that will take place on the hallowed grass, the event organisers and the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum will be welcoming visitors to a new exhibition within the complex to celebrate the birthday and how centre court has evolved over the past century. During the event there will be special occasions to celebrate the success and history and on the middle Sunday of the tournament the main ceremony will take place to allow everybody to participate in person or from the comfort of their living room.
The Development of Centre Court
It was way back in 1881 that two courts were amalgamated to form one court and create a greater capacity for crowds to watch the best players play tennis. This was at the original location of the tournament that continued up until 1922 at the All England Tennis Club off Worple Road. In 1922 the club relocated to the site we all know and love at Church Road and was continued to be known as the All England Tennis Club. When the venue decided to increase playing surface available, four new courts were developed in 1980 and Wimbledon became the official name.
One of the new courts developed was the Centre Court where some of the most memorable tennis matches were to take place. One less pleasant memory comes from the Second World War when the Luftwaffe raided London time and again. With Wimbledon covering a large area it was hit and sadly centre court took a direct hit in 1940. The damage was terrible with over one thousand seats being completely destroyed by an estimated five explosive devices. The championships continued at Wimbledon after the end of the Second World War in 1946 and while play was made possible on the centre court, it was not brought back to its former glory until 1949.
Since the construction of centre court in 1922 there have been several amendments, improvements and safety measures to meet the ever-changing demands of a top-class tennis venue. One alteration to centre court involved raising the original roof to allow for an increase incapacity. Restricted viewing areas were improved within the stadium and clever redesign allowed for a better Wimbledon experience from over 3,500 seats. The most recent addition to the centre court and one that many people remember is for something the Brits are very good at…rain. The retractable roof was constructed in 2009 adding an additional six rows of seating and Wimbledon increased its capacity to just under 15,000 spectators. Centre Court is today the joint 6th largest all tennis purpose stadium in the world together with the National Tennis Stadium in Beijing. Larger venues include the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York (23,000) and…yes… the O2 Arena in London that can host 17,500 spectators.
The retractable roof can take 10 minutes to close and up to 45 minutes for the air conditioning to acclimatise. Of course, it was not long before it was needed, with a women’s tennis match between Amelie Mauresmo and Dinara Safina requiring cover on 29th June 2009. The first Wimbledon final to be played partially under the retractable roof was between Andy Murray and Roger Federer.
Magic Centre Court Moments
Such is the history of the competition and centre court, each game and every year new magical moments are created and history made. Those playing on the centre court will be consumed by a terrific atmosphere as the spectators cherish being at the most famous tennis venue in the world. Let us take a look at some of the most notable moments on centre court that will live with us forever!
The Final all the Fans Wanted to See
Every final is a special occasion on Centre Court with the two best players or pairings, male and female battling it out for the trophy and prize after two weeks of gruelling competition. In 2008, two of the greatest tennis players of all time met on Centre Court in the final. The much-loved Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were ranked as the worlds best players with Roger having been the previous winner of the Championship on five previous occasions, beating Nadal in the previous two. A seven-hour match interrupted of course by rain and no retractable roof, was ultimately won by the heroic effort made by Nadal.
The Awkward American
Yes, you got it, the very loveable John McEnroe or can we be serious…no…’You cannot be serious’. You would either love him or hate him but at the very least he was a fine left-handed tennis player and a deserved Wimbledon winner. He had the tendency to question the calls of the match officials and when at Wimbledon it was certainly portrayed in the well to do polite British manner associated with Wimbledon. Viewers would certainly get value for money and priceless entertainment when McEnroe’s temperature was raised!
A Lucky Royal?
It was the first time the Queen had the time to go and watch a Wimbledon final since 1962. After all, it was her Silver Jubilee and Her Majesty had reason to celebrate. What made the occasion all the more special was that British tennis player was one of the finalists and went on to beat Betty Stove. As no other British female player has won the title since, might it be worth considering if the Queen will be visiting the Wimbledon women’s final this year as it is her Platinum Jubilee?
A 76-year itch?
The British public and their love of Wimbledon were also made to wait for a men’s singles champion. Centre Court has probably never had such an electric atmosphere than in 2012 when Scotsman Andy Murray played Roger Federer in the 2012 final. Sadly, for the fans and Andy, Roger was up to his usual tricks in taking the title back to Switzerland. However, with true grit and determination, Andy Murray came back in 2013 and 2016 to beat Novak Djokovic and Milos Raonic respectively. The Men’s title had not been won by a Brit since Bunny Austin won in 1938.
Never Ending Story?
We dare say one or two spectators may have had an afternoon nap in a match that witnessed 200 aces, 980 points and 183 games. A five-set thriller went the distance, and we really mean the distance. It was June 2010 when Jo Isner faced Nicolas Mahut and there really was nothing between them when they spent eleven hours and five minutes trying to find a way to beat each other. Eventually, Isner found the way past Mahut winning the final set 70 – 68….
At mr.play we are looking forward to celebrating Wimbledon and the special place centre court has within the grounds of this world famous venue. There will be plenty of opportunities to check out the odds of the players and the different types of betting available for the Wimbledon championships. We would remind you that tennis can be an unpredictable sport and that you should bet within your own financial limits. Gambling can lead to financial and mental stress so if you feel you have an issue, contact gambleaware.co.uk for free confidential support and advice.