Wimbledon is one of the great sporting occasions of the year, but why does it have such a connection with the Royal Family?
The Wimbledon Championships first established a Royal connection in 1895 when Crown Princess Stephanie of Austria watched a Men’s Doubles match. The British Royal Family’s first visit was some years later. In 1907, The Prince of Wales (who would later become King George V) and Princess Mary, visited the old Worple Road ground.
The Committee box was temporarily refitted as a Royal Box and the Royal couple were met at the gate by the Committee and escorted to their seats. In some ways, it was a typical Wimbledon occasion. The couple stayed until a thunderstorm ended the days play!
Before they left, the Prince was offered and accepted the Presidency of the Club. He donated a Challenge Trophy to the Club and remained President until he became King in 1910. He then became Patron of the Club and with Queen Mary, remained an avid fan of the Championships for many years.
In 1922 King George V and Queen Mary opened the new Church road ground accompanied by their sons, the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) and Prince Albert (later Duke of York and George VI). In the 1926 Jubilee Championships, the couple saw Prince Albert compete in a Men’s Doubles event.
He was the only Royal to ever have competed at Wimbledon. He and his partner Louis Greig, (later Chairman of the All England Club) were soundly beaten in the first round.
The Kent family began a long association with the Club when Prince George became President in 1929. His widow, Princess Marina, took the position after his death in 1942 and attended the tournament for 23 consecutive years until her death in 1968.
The present Duke of Kent succeeded his mother and he and the present Duchess of Kent have continued the Royal tradition of attending the tournament and presenting the trophies.
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth attended the Championship’s in 1947 to watch the Men’s Singles final. In 1957 Queen Elizabeth II made her first visit to Wimbledon. Although tennis may not be the Queen’s favourite sport, she has attended a number of times over the years, often accompanied by Prince Phillip.
In 1977 the Championship’s centenary year, and coincidentally the Queen’s Silver Jubilee year, she presented the Women’s Singles trophy to Britain’s Virginia Wade. Royal visitors in recent years have included the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Andrew and his daughter Princess Beatrice.
When Queen Elizabeth turned 90 in 2016, she stood down as Patron of The All England Club, which she was since 1952. Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge then took over the role.
The 2020 Wimbledon tournament was canceled, however, 2021 will go ahead. World number one and five-time Wimbledon champion Djokovic is the early favourite with Betfair at odds of 13/8 to win. At number two is the world number two Rafa Nadal. He hasn’t won the tournament since 2010 and for that reason is 5/1.
Wimbledon great and tennis hero Roger Federer is behind them both in the odds at 15/2. The Swiss is now 38 years old, but with eight Wimbledon titles under his belt, you’d be brave to bet against him!
Obviously it’s a long time away Wimbledon 2021, however, getting a good price early could be worth the wait in the long run!
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