Strawberries and cream, the Royal Box, Wimbledon Hill. Wimbledon is a sporting event which is steeped in tradition like no other. Wimbledon is over for another year and Igniyte considers the tournament’s unique reputation at the pinnacle of sport.
Every year, the royals are in attendance along with numerous A-list celebrities who make appearances at Centre Court across the fortnight-long annual tournament. Some say it’s the most snobbish event in sport, but there’s no denying that Wimbledon is one of the most prestigious sporting events.
Prestige of Wimbledon
There are four world tennis championships: Wimbledon and the French, Australian and US Opens. So what’s unique about the All England Lawn Tennis Club Tournament, commonly known as ‘Wimbledon’? For a start, every other tournament is known as an Open.
Wimbledon was in fact the first tennis championship with the first tournament having taken place in 1877, when there was no need to differentiate. Other championships initially started on grass, but have since evolved to clay and hard surfaces, while Wimbledon retains its lawn surface and traditional name. The players are still required to wear white, which again comes down to tradition.
Attending the event
Just getting a ticket can be difficult in itself, which possibly adds to its prestigious reputation. You need to apply through the Wimbledon website and a ballot selects your dates, court and the price of your ticket. Of course, everyone wants something they can’t get!
Notoriously over-subscribed and tough to get through, there’s also a strict etiquette to follow. You may remember Lewis Hamilton being refused entry last year for not wearing a tie and jacket with his flowery shirt.
Becoming a member of Wimbledon is the best chance of being guaranteed a seat at the finals. To join however, you have to be invited to become a member of the club – retired UK tennis star Tim Henman is one of the most recent to receive such an honour – and you must then pay a substantial donation to the club for the privilege. According to Bloomberg, the best chance you’ll have of joining the All England Club is by winning the tournament.
Being a sponsor of The Championships at Wimbledon is also a very different prospect from other sporting events. Unlike others where prominent branding can be seen most of the time on television and inside the ground, Wimbledon has strict rules to prevent the use of intrusive or overt advertising.
All partners must supply services or products to The Championship and brands may only advertise in a appropriate places, for example, the Rolex can only be seen on the clock, IBM on the scoreboard and service speed display, Slazenger on the balls, and Robinson’s on the umpire’s chair where players take a drinks break.
Branding at Wimbledon may be discrete, but that doesn’t prevent it from being powerful when managed correctly. Quite the opposite in fact, because of the long-term nature of the sponsorship and also because of the very ‘special’ nature of the tournament itself.
Wimbledon in popular culture
The Championships at Wimbledon are just as popular and prestigious as they have ever been. Twitter used this year’s tournament as a way of rolling out its new coverage of sporting events, launching a dedicated Wimbledon live stream to include all tweets with the #Wimbledon hashtag. It housed interviews, analysis and match replays courtesy of ESPN, covering the whole event which was a first for the platform. Aiming to give the viewer access to both the sporting event and the surrounding conversation, Twitter plans to roll this out for the NFL having signed a $10 million deal to stream the event.
Social media also made for some of the most memorable moments of this year’s tournament, with Judy Murray and David Cameron just two of the millions who commented on the event on Twitter. The Williams sisters, Venus (7 Grand Slams) and Serena (22 Grand Slams), both avidly used Instagram to show some of their moments during the tournament.
Wimbledon retains the traditions of the sport, but also adapts to popular culture. The big screen was added to Wimbledon Hill (or Henman Hill to you and I) in 1997, following the reconstruction of Court 1, while a roof was added to centre court in 2009 to sustain game play during bad weather. Gordon Reid made tennis history by winning the first wheelchair singles tennis championship in 2016, while Wheelchair doubles has been played in the championships since 2006.
Wimbledon is the traditional prestigious tennis event, and it has managed to evolve with popular culture in order to retain its place at the forefront of worldwide sporting activity. Its ability to evolve, along with its special values, maintains its place at the heart of UK people, as well as many others around the world.