Wimbledon has progressed from vicarage tea-party pastime to the greatest tennis tournament in the world. It is the one Grand Slam event that today’s multi-millionaire players yearn to win above all others. The only one still played in whites and fought on grass, and one of the few surviving bastions of true sportsmanship. The names of Perry, Lenglen, Wills Moody, Tilden, Budge, Laver, Borg, McEnroe, Navratilova, Sampras, Graf, Federer and the Williams sisters – etched among the immortals on the All-England Club’s honours board – will be remembered more for their exploits in SW19 than at any other tournament. Through the expert analysis and reporting of tennis correspondents such as A. Myers Wallis, John Olliff, Lance Tingay and John Parsons, the Daily Telegraph has chronicled the skill, artistry and courage of the game’s greatest exponents since the Championships first began in 1877. In over 130 years there has hardly been a cross-court winner, backhand down the line, overhead smash or double-fault that has passed unnoticed or uncommented. But Wimbledon is so much more than a tennis tournament. The Fortnight is a cornerstone of the mid-summer social season, as renowned for its gargantuan consumption of Champagne, smoked salmon and the ubiquitous strawberries and cream as for its controversies, tantrums and umbrellas on court. It is the only sporting event of the year that bursts off the sports pages and invades such diverse sections as fashion, cookery, television and property. Not to mention the front page, leader page and letters column – as The Daily Telegraph Book of Wimbledon now delightfully demonstrates. Over the years the Telegraph has attracted such notable writers as Michael Parkinson, Sebastian Faulks, Russell Davies and Taki to enthuse about Wimbledon, as well as providing a platform for insightful comment from great players of the past like John McEnroe, Fred Perry, Chris Evert and Billie-Jean King. Now we collect the very best of that writing to present the complete history of England’s greatest sporting institution.
So kick back with that Pimms spritzer, and read on!
Martin Smith was for many years Assistant Sports Editor of The Daily Telegraph.