Wimbledon the Centenary Year,

Where Heritage Meets Innovation

© Anna Britton

Great Britain is in its centenary year. The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, 100 years of the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), and 90 years of the BBC’s presence at Wimbledon all celebrate their respective achievements in 2022. Wimbledon itself commemorates its own centenary year—although it is the 135th staging of the Championships, 2022 marks 100 years since the opening of the Centre Court, designed by British architect Stanley Peach, and the transfer of the tournament site from Worple Road to its present location at Church Road. This year, Wimbledon will mark the celebrations and uphold the old traditions. It will also embrace modern changes that aim to enhance the Championships experience.

 You feel the AELTC knows the importance of holding tradition whilst also having innovation at the forefront of its mind. When you approach the All England Club, and walk through the magnificent gates, engraved with the gold lettering of AELTC (the All England Lawn Tennis Club), you are engulfed with an overwhelming and unique sensation of tradition, respect, and historical culture. Entering the club through any of the incredible gates, you are welcomed by thought provoking monuments, such as the silver waterfall enriched by heartfelt and inspiring words: “In pursuit of greatness.”

© Anna Britton

 Throughout the grounds of the All England Club there are many historical sculptures that have been created in remembrance of British achievements, they uphold the memories of the Championships. The bespoke sculptures include the head-and-shoulder busts of the five British ladies singles champions—Kitty Godfree, Dorothy Round, Angela Mortimer, Anne Jones, and Virginia Wade—created by the acclaimed British sculptor Ian Rank Broadley, the magnificent sculpture of the former world number one, Fred Perry, created by David Wynne, and the most modern addition, the Alchemilla—a plant sculpture created by William Pye, and unveiled by the Duke of Kent on the first day  of the 2016 Championships.

As traditions and iconic features go, Wimbledon is well known and associated with its present dark green and purple colour scheme. These colours were introduced in 1909 after it was felt that a change was needed to previous colours of blue, yellow, red, and green—they were too similar to those of the Royal Marines.

© Anna Britton

The 2022 Championships celebrates traditions of the AELTC whilst simultaneously bringing new additions. To mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the All England Club has been working with the World Platinum Investment Council to create a set of beautiful and memorable platinum coins to be used at the final weekend for the coin toss whilst a host of other enhancements have been prepared for this year’s edition of Wimbledon. The player entrance to the Centre Court has received a modernised look, refreshing the traditional feel but making sure it remains steeped in history and culture of the event. The umpires, an integral part of the tournament, have received an update of their own with a redesigned umpires chair on the Centre Court and Court 1. In 2023, the change will expand to all courts thus completing the look.

© Anna Britton

With a combination of modernisation and progress in mind, there is no other tournament that can compete with the heritage and look of the Wimbledon’s line umpires’ uniforms. Ralph Lauren will once again update their attire—a unique and valuable tradition of the Championships. In keeping with environmental changes, the tournament is working with Sports for Climate Action, a UN Climate Change initiative for the global sports community to combat climate change, encouraging a shift in spectator habits that help the environment—the new Wimbledon reusable cups will definitely be ones to hold onto!

Speaking of Wimbledon being an innovating platform, the Championships understand its strength, both nationally and internationally. In the tennis community, Wimbledon sparks passion in every corner of the world. As part of the new format, from this year onwards, the Championships will not pause play mid-tournament, and will instead continue through the middle Sunday. The AELTC will emphasise this momentous change by making the middle Sunday the focal point of its centenary celebrations. The club is also surrounded by a big and involved community, and it plans to give back on this day by making Sunday a community day—with tickets distributed to local schools, residents, charities, and community groups. To further enhance the celebrations, there is a special moment planned before the start of play on the middle Sunday taking place on the historic Centre Court. This event will celebrate the epic matches and historic Championships moments, inviting past players onto the court. I am sure it will, yet again, remind us why Wimbledon is so much more than just a tennis tournament.

As part of the 100-year celebrations, Wimbledon will mark the event by introducing a new centenary logo, therefore creating imagery that moves the Centre Court into the next century, visualising its future for the next 100 years. Aesthetic additions to the club grounds include refurbished elements to the Lawn Tennis Museum, and, in commemoration of the centenary year, a special exhibition featuring 100 years of change. Never failing to keep up with the ever-evolving modern world, the museum has also introduced a new interactive gallery which explores the Open Era of tennis.

Investing in the future remains a key priority for the All England Club, and the next century will mean investment into the AELTC Wimbledon Park project, providing year-round significant public benefit to the local community.

Looking towards the future, the club plans to move the qualifying event onsite and away from the Roehampton courts. Improvements will also be made to the junior and practice facilities, whilst also providing a third show court, increasing and enhancing the world-class facility. As Wimbledon say, they want to ensure that the event remains a premier tennis tournament, with all the associated social and economic benefits that it brings, locally and nationally.

This year’s Championships will be a celebration of not only a welcoming-back after the Covid-19 pandemic, but also of a centenary tournament filled with memories—welcoming a new era, enhancing the tournament, and moving it towards the future.

The combination of esteemed heritage and productive innovations will ensure that Wimbledon remains a tournament that players aspire to compete in, and spectators want to experience—in essence, a piece of history. May inspiration be the driving force of this unique and valued tournament, and keep Wimbledon a sporting event of unrivalled quality.