- All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club is based at Wimbledon in
London, England, at grid reference gbmappingsmall|TQ242721. It is best known as the venue for the Wimbledon Championships, the only Grand Slam tennis event still held on grass, but is also a private members club.
It was founded in 1868 as the "All England
CroquetClub," and held its first croquet competition in 1870. Croquet was very popular there until the then-infant sport of lawn tennis was introduced. The first tennis Championships in men's singles were held in 1877, to raise money for a pony-drawn roller for its croquet lawns, when it changed its name to "The All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club". That year at Wimbledon serves were made underarm. In 1882, croquet was dropped from the name, as tennis had become the main activity of the club. But in 1889, it was restored to the club's name, probably for sentimental reasons, and the club's name became "The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club".
Initially a fun amateur event that occupied club members and their friends for a few days in each summer, the championships have become far more prominent than the club itself. However, it still operates as a members tennis club, with many courts in use all year round. There are around 375 full members, 100 temporary playing members, and a number of honorary members, including past Wimbledon singles champions.
The club currently has 19 tournament courts, 14 other grass courts, which serve as competitors' practice courts during the championship, and several clay and hard courts, which are hidden under temporary stands and marquees during the tournament. The grass courts can be used from May until September. The largest court is
Centre Courtwhich usually hosts the finals of the main singles and doubles events at the championships. Centre Court currently seats almost 14,000 people, but will be expanded slightly to around 15,000 as part of planned redevelopments (spatially the expansion is greater than those numbers imply, as seats will also be widened). The club is intending to install a retractable roof on Centre Court by 2009. It will be a "folding concertina" made of a translucent fabric, and should be able to open/close within 10 minutes. Redevelopment work commenced in 2006 and Centre Courthad no roof at all in place for the duration of the 2007 Championships. The other 'show court' is No. 1 Court, built in 1997, which holds around 11,500 people and occasionally plays host to Davis Cupmatches ( Centre Courtbeing preserved for the Wimbledon Championship). A new No. 2 Court with 4,000 seats is also due to be completed in time for the 2009 Championships.
The club's "exclusivity" has led to the exclusion of, among others,
Angela Buxton, the Jewish former British Wimbledon doubles champion. Buxton said in 2004, reflecting on the fact that the All England Club, almost 50 years after Buxton's 1956 Wimbledon triumph with Althea Gibson, had still not invited Buxton to join: "I think the anti-Semitismis still there. The mere fact that I'm not a member is a full sentence that speaks for itself." Buxton told New York Postreporter Marc Berman that she had been on the "waiting list" since the 1950s. "I wish it still wasn't such an elite sport," Buxton told Berman. "I wish we could bring it down to a common baseline. It's going that way. It's still not there." [http://www.jewsinsports.org/profile.asp?sport=tennis&ID=57] [http://books.google.com/books?id=GWE_lEPfHpIC&pg=PA4&lpg=PA4&dq=%22all+england%22+%22angela+buxton%22+jewish+antisemitic&source=web&ots=LIDq69xZdc&sig=MbdZgzhGKdToQyZRaTiwkl4bYcs&hl=en]
The club will be the venue for the tennis competition at the
2012 Summer Olympics.
The club also houses the
Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum, and it still has a croquet lawn, but it is too small for top-level competitions.
The Championships, Wimbledon
The Wimbledon Effect
Queen's Club- London's second most famous tennis club
* [http://aeltc.wimbledon.org/en_GB/about/guide/club.html Club page on the Wimbledon Championships site]
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=aYhx-RgdGaYC&pg=PA23&lpg=PA23&dq=all+england+lawn+tennis+and+croquet+club+1868&source=web&ots=AmlshA0Y6t&sig=hfxkPFKWBmTXguSAJNJBFFkS0nI#PPA28,M1 "Wimbledon: Facts, Figures, and Fun," by Cameron Brown]
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