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Useful Notes / Wimbledon

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The All-England Lawn Tennis Championships, better known as Wimbledon, takes place in Britain every late June/early July. Wimbledon is one of the four Grand Slam Tennis tournaments, with the others being the US Open, the Australian Open and the French Open (aka Roland Garros).

The world's best tennis players, plus quite a few people who just got lucky, play in a knock-out tournament of tennis on the famous grass surface courts (the only Grand Slam to use this surface) of SW19note , London. The Wimbledon courts were also, naturally enough, the venue for all the tennis matches in the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Wimbledon was one of the first sporting events to be televised in colour by The BBC. This was initially because BBC2 controller David Attenborough realised it would fill lots of airtime, at a time (the late 1960s) when the BBC only had a limited number of colour cameras and production facilities.

It should be noted, however, that Wimbledon is also a town — or rather, a locality within the London Borough of Merton — and not just a Tennis event.

The 2020 tournament was cancelled in April of that year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This marked the first time since World War II that the tournament did not take place.

Wimbledon has tropes of its own:

  • Special seeding: While all other tournaments and other Slams follow the same seeding rules, Wimbledon had its own seeding formula for the men's side through 2019, which put more emphasis on players' latest grass court achievements. That means a player could be seeded higher than they would at another tournament if they've had good results in their last couple of grass tournaments, or a higher-ranked player may be seeded lower (or miss out on seeding altogether) if their latest grass results aren't stellar. This special seeding was notorious for puzzling everyone every year, including players — the women's side downright rejected it when it was first offered to them, though discussions of them eventually adopting the seeding often pops up. The All England Club announced that it would abandon this formula from 2021 forward, going strictly with the ATP rankings.
  • Henman Hill / Rusedski Ridge / Murray Mount: The grassy hill where those who couldn't get tickets go to watch British players (those three mentioned for example, although Tim Henman and the actually Canadian Greg Rusedski have now retired, and Murray is now only playing doubles while trying to recover from major hip surgery) battle bravely until they're whipped by somebody better than them, which is pretty much all of the upper echelons of tennis (with the exception of Murray, who usually outclasses everyone except Federer, Nadal and Djokovic). The default name is Henman Hill, however the hill is temporarily christened according to which Brit has the best shot to go deep in the tournament, such as Murray Mount or sometimes Murrayfield whenever Andy Murray is playing a match (the latter comes from the name of Scotland's national rugby union stadium, with Murray being Scottish).
  • British Futility: No British person won a singles Wimbledon title from 1977 (Virginia Wade. Sue Barker, presenter of A Question of Sport, made the semis that year) until 2013. Jamie Murray, brother of Andy Murray, was one of the winning pair in the mixed doubles in 2007 and Brit Jonathan Marray was half of the 2012 winning men's doubles team (for the first time since 1936; his partner was Danish Frederik Nielsen), but the biggest heartbreaker was the men's title, which until 2013 had not been won by a Brit (Fred Perry, as in the polo shirts) since before World War II. Andy Murray was the only British player to actually get past the second round in 2009 and the first round in 2010. His final debut in 2012 marked the first time a British player had reached the Wimbledon men's singles final in 74 years, and he finally became the first British man to win it in 2013 before going on to win another in 2016. Also of note is that he won the 2012 Olympic Games tournament held in Wimbledon.
  • Strawberries and cream: Not much explanation here. It's just a very delicious and traditional thing to eat at Wimbledon. Perhaps because of how iconic the snack is, the Championships have held the price level for over a decade now, despite inflation - turning them from ridiculously overpriced to just about reasonable.
  • All-White Dress Code: The club itself has an "all-white" dress code, which extends to the Championships themselves. This is in contrast to the other Grand Slams, which have few, if any clothing restrictions at all. The all-white dress creates problems for TV viewers trying to differentiate between players. For instance, 2009's final was "the guy in the baseball cap" (Andy Roddick) versus "the guy in the sweat band" (Roger Federer). This was of course suspended for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games tennis tournament to allow players to wear their usual national-colours outfits. Starting in 2023, female competitors have been allowed to wear coloured undershorts, thereby making it less obvious to spectators that players are having their periods.
  • Rain: One of the most enduring images of Wimbledon are the grounds crew running across the court with a tarpaulin as there's yet another rain shower. Occasionally, there's enough rain showers to delay the tournament until the third Friday. This results in "People's Friday", where tickets are available first-come-first served. 2009 onwards, Centre Court has used a retractable roof - ironically that year there was no rain at all except for a 15-minute shower on the second Monday.
  • "Mrs." and "Miss": When announcing scores during matches, Wimbledon umpires long persisted in prefixing women's family names with "Mrs." or "Miss", depending on their current marital statuses. The French Open did the same, using the French Madame and Mademoiselle. By contrast, neither the Australian nor US Opens followed this practice; umpires used only the players' family names, regardless of sex. The French Open and Wimbledon finally dropped the prefixes... in 2019. And even then, the All England Club's honour board of women's singles champions listed them with "Mrs." and "Miss", along with the husband's initials for married women, until 2022.note 
  • Streakers: Though security in tennis tournaments around the world was stepped up after the horrific on-court stabbing of Monica Seles in 1993, somehow these adventurous and nude young people find their way on the court every few years.
  • John "You cannot be serious!" McEnroe: A very famous American tennis player, now retired, who does regular commentary. He's actually a trope of his own (he was a bad boy in his playing days) and has played himself on TV a few times, such as in CSI: NY, where he did a variation on his oft-parodied line.
  • BBC TV Coverage Problems: Wimbledon is just about the biggest thing going on in England during those two weeks, leading to quite a number of programs being pre-empted for unpredictable TV coverage.
    • BBC2 always managing to show a doubles match where the final set goes to a ridiculous number of games due to there being no tie-break. This happened in 2010 with a mens' singles match between Nicolas Mahut and John Isner. The match went to 2 sets each on the first day, before play was suspended due to poor light. The final set started the next day at around 14:00 and ran until play was suspended again due to it going dark at around 21:20. The match finally ended with John Isner winning the final set 70Ė68, around an hour into the third day's play. The match lasted 11 hours and 5 minutes, with the final set running longer than any other professional match ever played, at 8 hours and 11 minutes. To cap it all, there was not only just one break of serve in all those five sets — the penultimate game, with the match being subsequently served out — but neither player faced so much as a break point before that.
    • After another match in 2018 (a semifinal between Kevin Anderson and John Isner... yes, him again!) finally ended 26-24 in the final set, and left Anderson so knackered that he was unable to give all in the final against Djokovic, the organisers finally brought in a tiebreaker for the final set in 2019.
    • Which came in useful for the 2019 menís final when after 4 sets and at 12 games all in the final set, Djokovic finally beat Federer in that tiebreaker. Not only was it the first time the Wimbledon title was won in that way, it was also the longest final, and it managed to finish just in time for the English nation to then do a mass channel hop to get the conclusion of another sporting event that was happening at the same time.....
    • CBBC being shunted to BBC2 for the duration. (Now a Dead Horse Trope as CBBC has been taken off the main channels altogether.)
    • Expect temper tantrums and tv sets being thrown out the window, especially back in the days of The Simpsons being broadcast on BBC2 and then cancelled because of an ongoing match.
    • If an exciting match goes on long enough, other programmes will be moved to BBC2 or postponed a week.
    • Decreasingly relevant in these days of digital-only Red Button Interactive functionality. Though the main 'terrestrial' channels are still used for quarters and up.
    • The attempted rebrand of the highlights show in 2015, christened Wimbledon 2day, was not very well received (not least because it didn't feature much in the way of actual tennis) and underwent a very hasty Retool for the second week. This made the second series of W1A, broadcast earlier in 2015 and featuring an incompetent PR agency attempting to revamp the BBC's Wimbledon coverage, Hilarious in Hindsight.
    • There may also be problems in even-numbered yearsnote  when they also have to contend with either The World Cup or the European Championship, especially if one of the Home Nations is playing.
  • Middle Sunday: For more than a century, the tournament's first Sunday was a rest day with no matches scheduled except in extreme circumstances such as rain delays. This was a vestige of a longstanding reluctance in England to hold sports events on Sundays. In 2022, coincidentally the 100th anniversary of the opening of today's Centre Court, the All England Club made Middle Sunday a regular day of play.
  • US TV coverage
    • NBC owned US broadcast rights to Wimbledon for at least 20 years, complete with their awesome synthesizer theme music straight out of 1977. Wall-to-wall coverage ran in daytime during the later stages of the tournament (including Sundays, so no Meet the Press), with a 20-minute recap starting at 11:30 PM after the late local news; when The Tonight Show started, it was often a a rerun.
    • ESPN got the full American rights to Wimbledon for 2012 and beyond, unexpectedly taking it from NBC. They promise live coverage of every game, on every coast for once, and leaving the tournament without live coverage on broadcast television for the first time in America ... ever (ABC still airs taped weekend coverage). ESPN2 also offers supplementary coverage.
    • Daily cable rights belonged to HBO until 1999, giving the tournament a higher cachet than most sporting events because of it being on a premium cable service. It moved over to sister channel TNT in 2000, then over to ESPN currently (mainly on ESPN2).
    • For those who want to watch the BBC coverage and announcers mixed in with incredible analysis (including the awesome Mary Carillo), you have to wait for a tape-delay replay in primetime on the Tennis Channel.

Stuff that appears here, but is common to all the Grand Slams:

  • The variety of tennis outfits, especially the memes and criticism that come with it. These include
    • John McEnroe's iconic red headband, afro and shorts shorter than what's usually worn by male players nowadays.
    • 2008 saw Maria Sharapova's shorts and waistcoat combo — she went in the third round to another player who stated she didn't like it.
    • The very impracticable babydoll dresses that Nike made for Wimbledon in 2016 — the dresses ended up flying everywhere during play and was nicknamed "the Marilyn Monroe". Female players were unhappy with how revealing these were — one player ended up wearing her headband at her waist to hold it down, and another had to wear it with leggings. Tennis coach Judy Murray was very critical, insisting that sport clothing manufacturers should be prioritising functionality.
  • Grunting, with much media commentary on the matter and many tennis players having mixed opinions about it. For example, 2009 saw Michelle Larcher de Brito, who became more famous for her grunting than the fact that she made it to the second round. Female players appear to get much more flack from media than male players do unsurprisingly — Victoria Azarenka pointed out this Double Standard when she along with other female players were questioned about their grunting in 2015, complaining that "Rafael Nadal grunts louder than [her]".
  • Equal prize money for men and women — Wimbledon was the last of the Slams to do this in 2007 to emphasise the much-needed gender equality in the sport.

Fiction involving Wimbledon:

  • Wimbledon. A romantic movie about two tennis players. A possible fantasy, since the British male protagonist wins.note 
  • 7 Days in Hell. A mockumentary about a the longest Wimbledon finale in history.
  • An episode of The Professionals
  • The Monty Python's Flying Circus episode involving alien blancmanges turning people into Scotsmen, so they could win Wimbledon. When Scotsman Andy Murray won in 2013 the Internet lit up with "Andy Murray Defeats the blancmanges for all time" memes.
  • The London arc of Case Closed comes to revolve around the Women's Finals: One of the players, Minerva Glass, is a friend of Conan/Shinichi... and her mother has been kidnapped. For worse, her kidnapper is a Mad Bomber aka the Big Bad of the arc itself...
  • Snoopy takes a break during the Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown movie to play a set at Wimbledon. He proceeds to throw a fit worthy of McEnroe himself.
  • Michael Flanders performed a verbal sketch "Tried by the Centre Court", in which he is umpiring the ladies' singles, and reflects on the tedium of the game.
    "I never liked tennis, I just fancied myself in the hat. And year after year, as I've sat on court after court, I'm struck with the thought: they are bashing the ball with the gut of a cat. What a sport. You might think it's tedious from below, it's ludicrous seen from above. Bonk... bink... bonk... bink... sitting up here, I'm obsessed with the fear of getting it wrong. Everyone else shall be going bonk bink, I shall be going bink bonk."