Why is Wimbledon so prestigious: a history lesson
The world's most prestigious and coveted Tennis Grand Slam is about to wrap up in London. But for those not in the know, Wimbledon has long been the crème de la crème of Tennis championships, which shouldn't be a surprise when you learn it's the oldest tennis tournament in the world.
Year after year, the sport's top athletes pit themselves against each other to join a very select group of winners at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.
It's illustrious history
The tournament held it's first ever match in 1877 at the erstwhile All England Croquet Club and only held a gentlemen’s singles event. Fast forward more than a 140 years and the oldest tennis championship in the world has since allowed women, and is the only Major in the sport to still play on a grass court, which is the original surface.
The tournament is steeped in tradition and is still true to its original roots. While many think their use of 'Miss' or 'Mrs' for female tennis players and 'Mr' for male players is a bit stuffy, they show no sign of veering from what they deem 'proper ettiquete'.
Strict dress code
There's one rule however that both players and brands try their hardest to flout — the all-white dress code rule that is so specific that even off-white or cream will not make the cut. It gets even more stringent however when it come to just how much colour the clothes can have. Everything is regulated down to the amount of colour that’s allowed on necklines, the cuffs of sleeves or headbands.
Believe it or not, the reason for the all-white dress code is a little ridiculous. Dating back to the 19th century, it was because sweat patches on players' clothing was deemed uncouth.
Britannica.com writes: "The short answer is “because it’s in the dress code.” But it’s in the dress code for a reason: namely, when the code was written in the genteel 1880s, sweat stains were considered so improper and unsightly that it was decided that white should be worn to minimize their visibility, as sweat is more apparent on colorful clothing. From that period on, “tennis whites” were considered the standard attire for well-heeled tennis players, which described everyone who played in the first Wimbledon tournaments. Once that rule was prescribed in the dress code, the tradition-loving Wimbledon was loath to remove it."
Players like Serena Williams and Maria Sharapove have been known to flout this rule with their brightly coloured pink or orange shorts. Andre Agassi famously boycotted the tournament in retaliation to the strict dress code in the 1990s. As players found inventive ways to get around this rule since it was implemented, Wimbledon officials began to update the rulebook frequently to get rid of any and all vagueness.
Wimbledon.com now states emphatically: "White does not include off-white or cream; there should be no solid mass or panel of colouring; a single trim of colour around the neckline and around the cuff of the sleeve is acceptable but must be no wider than 1cm; shoes must be almost entirely white, including the soles; and any undergarments that either are or can be visible during play (including due to perspiration) must also be completely white except for a single trim of colour no wider than 1cm."
The royal connection
Royalty and Wimbledon go hand in hand, which is probably why the tennis championship is a stickler for tradition and rules. The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton is currently the patron of the All England Tennis and Lawn Championships. But actually the royal connection to Wimbledon dates back to the turn of the previous century in 1910, when King George V became patron of the All England Club.