The Championships at Wimbledon start today and will run (weather permitting) until Sunday 7th July. The All England Lawn Tennis Club was formed in 1868 and the first Championships were in 1877 with the first Ladies’ Championships in 1884.
The Duke of Kent poses for photos with British tennis star Laura Robson
The British Royal Family has a long association with Wimbledon, most recently with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attending in 2012. The Duchess of Cambridge is a tennis fan, as is her sister Pippa Middleton, but the Duchess is not expected to attend Wimbledon this year due to the impending birth of her first child.
The Queen is not particularly fond of tennis, and last attended Wimbledon in 2010 to watch Brit Andy Murray beat Finn Jarkko Nieminen in straight sets. This match will probably be remembered most for Andy Murray’s magnificent bow to the Queen in the Royal Box! In case anyone was wondering whether players have to bow/curtsey to royals in the Royal Box, the All England Lawn Tennis Club states that:“In 2003, in accordance with the wishes of HRH The Duke of Kent, the Club’s President, it was agreed that the time was right to discontinue the tradition of players bowing/curtseying to members of the Royal family on entering or leaving the Centre Court. The only exceptions will be for HM The Queen and HRH The Prince of Wales.”
The last time Her Majesty attended Wimbledon prior to this was in 1977, the year of her Silver Jubilee, when Virginia Wade won the Ladies’ Championships.
There are other royals who have more of an association with Wimbledon, however. The Duke of Kent is the Club’s President, and attends every year to present the trophies to the winners of the singles championships. It has been confirmed that the Duke will attend both the men’s and ladies’ singles finals this year, on 6th and 7th July. The Duchess of Kent used to attend Wimbledon to present the ladies’ singles trophy, but now is rarely seen in public life. However, who can forget 1993 when Jana Novotna lost the title to Steffi Graf and, in tears at the trophy presentation ceremony, had to be consoled by the Duchess. In 1998, Novotna had her third chance at the title. In 1997, at her second attempt and second loss, the Duchess had told her that “the third final will be the third time lucky” and when she presented Novotna with the winner’s trophy in 1998, she whispered “I was right”! The Duchess of Gloucester is the Lawn Tennis Association’s Honorary President and this week will be hosting the LTA President’s Lunch at Wimbledon, as well as attending the LTA Wimbledon Ball at the Boiler House of Battersea Power Station.
Diana, Princess of Wales used to regularly attend Wimbledon. In 1991, she took her son Prince William with her into the Royal Box.
The Royal Box was created in 1922 and is not just used by the British Royal Family. The All England Lawn Tennis Club says that it is also used by Foreign Royals, “heads of government, people from the world of tennis, commercial partners, British armed forces, prominent media organisations, supporters of British tennis and other walks of life”. Invitations come from the Chairman of the Club, from suggestions made by members of The Championships’ Organising Committee, The Lawn Tennis Association and other relevant sources. The Royal Box has 74 seats (dark green Lloyd Loom wicker chairs) and invitations also include lunch, tea and drinks in the Clubhouse. Dress is smart (suits and tie etc) and ladies are asked not to wear hats “as they tend to obscure the vision of those seated behind them”.