It was on Monday 9th July 1877 that a Lawn Tennis championship took place for the first time at Worple Road, Wimbledon. Records of the time record Worple Road, and the streets on the southern slopes of Wimbledon Hill, as ‘highly respectable‘. Until about 1875 ‘Walpole Lane’ as a map of the time named it, had been a narrow track leading to fields. In 1868 the self-styled All-England Croquet Club had leased a field between the road and the railway line but doesn’t seem to have developed it much until the members decided to add the new game of Lawn Tennis to its activities.
As a result the club was renamed The All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club. The members held their first Tennis Championship on this day – 9th July 1877 – a championship consisting of just gentlemen’s singles matches. That first championship is recorded as attracting twenty-two competitors and a crowd of about two hundred.
The popularity grew rapidly and by 1884 they had permanent stands for the spectators built around the Club’s Central Court.
By 1922 they had totally outgrown the ground and moved to the Club’s present site in Church Road. The old ground then became the Girls’ High School playing field.
Now, when you sit down – or stand up – enjoying this second week of the modern game recall the beginning of the whote event back in 1877!