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The World’s introduction to championship tennis: 145 years ago, today.

By Sophia Wood-Burgess

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Exactly 145 years ago on July 9th, 1877, the All England Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club held its inaugural tennis tournament.

Many of the rules for this tournament are still in place, like scoring by clock face (15, 30, 45 etc.) and first to win six games wins a set. Strawberries and cream were served at the first competition, a tradition that's thought to have begun with tennis matches at Hampton Court Palace and that continues to the present day.

And so, the World’s first tennis tournament took place right here in Wimbledon, at Nursery Road off Worple Road. This goes to show how our Capital has grown – at this time, Wimbledon was not in zone 3, it was a leafy suburb outside of London. Wimbledon wasn’t incorporated from Surrey until the formation of Greater London in 1965. So at this point, transport from London’s railways had just begun making Wimbledon more accessible and more populated. What would become the district line would be extended through here in a few years.

These days, watching a Grand Slam at Wimbledon carries pomp and tradition – it is an institution in London summer life. Go to Wimbledon Park when the tournament is on, and you’ll see rows and rows of tents. People camp in Wimbledon Park, where they queue to get tickets on the day. Some people just want a grounds pass, to soak up the atmosphere and watch some tennis on large screens. Some are aiming for the show courts. The rich, the famous, the first segment of the queue and lucky public ballot winners get to see centre court where tennis greats like Roger Federer and Venus Williams have had some of their finest victories.

Living with the legends

This tradition is part of what makes Wimbledon so special. Wimbledon has high-quality housing stock for renters and buyers, expansive homes on the hill, useful transport links, and a charming village feel, but it also has fascinating sports history and the best summer plans. If you’re interested in the history, you can live in the area where the World’s first ever tennis competition took place and where tennis was moulded from a humble lawn sport into an international sensation.

If you’re interested in summer plans, Adrienne Wadsworth, the Lettings Manager at Foxtons Wimbledon office, summed it up perfectly, “This is my 10th year working in the Wimbledon office and it is honestly my favourite time of the year to be based in SW19. The streets are packed with impeccably outfitted spectators taking in the purple and green bunting casually making their way to the courts (Pimm’s in hand). The atmosphere is incredible and it puts a smile on my face walking past the ram packed pubs and restaurants. All the shop fronts are plastered with tennis balls and Uncle Bulgaria. I love it!”

Dreaming of Wimbledon? Check out our area guide or talk to the team at our Wimbledon office.

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