August 12, 2014
From its early beginnings as a local tennis and croquet club in 1868 to today, the All England Club has grown substantially over the past century and a half to host one of the tennis world’s most prestigious events. Everyone knows the iconic Centre Court and its retractable roof, but even many of the biggest tennis fans know little about Wimbledon’s other courts. In this post, we take a closer look at the numerous other courts that make Wimbledon so special.
The all-star court of Wimbledon
Switch on the TV to watch Wimbledon (or get into your seat, if you’re lucky enough to watch it in person) and you’ll probably see the All England Club’s world famous Centre Court. Known for its premier box used by the Royal Family, the Centre Court is the main court at Wimbledon. Recent additions to the Centre Court include the retractable roof, which was installed in 2009 to prevent rain from stopping play.
With a seating capacity of 15,000 people, the Centre Court is Wimbledon’s biggest tennis court. It’s also undoubtedly the most prestigious, with a 90-year history of incredible games and world-class players.
The No.1, No. 2 and No. 3 Courts
Although the Centre Court might dominate coverage of Wimbledon, many of the tournament’s games are played on the No.1, No. 2 and No. 3 courts. Each of these courts houses thousands of spectators during the early rounds of Wimbledon. Situated to the north of the Centre Court, the No. 1 court seats up to 11,430 and is regarded as a player favourite. The current court, which was constructed in 1997, replaced the original No. 1 court, which was built in 1928 and seated 7,328. The No. 2 court of today replaced the No. 13 court. Prior to being rebuild on a new site in 2009, the No. 2 court was known as the “Graveyard of Champions”, as many legendary champions – from Andre Agassi to Serena Williams – faced defeat there.
The smallest of Wimbledon’s main courts is the No. 3 court, which seats 2,000 and hosts numerous games during the early stages of the tournament. Today, the No. 3 court is located on the site of the old infamous “Graveyard of Champions” court.
Wimbledon’s other Championships courts
Wimbledon attracts hundreds of players, making it necessary to have far more than just the four main courts. Currently, the All England Club is home to 19 grass courts used in The Championships for both qualifying and championship matches. As well as 19 Championships grass courts, the All England Club is home to 22 grass practice courts, all of which are located within Aorangi Park. The Club also has eight American clay courts, five indoor courts and two acrylic courts. While the big names in international tennis are typically found on the main courts, there’s still plenty of action going on outside. During this year’s events, Wimbledon released a time-lapse video showcasing a day of tennis on the outside courts.
The details of Wimbledon’s famous grass courts
Although Wimbledon may only last for two weeks, preparing for event is an all-year process. Wimbledon’s dedicated ground staff work year round to make sure that all of The Club’s courts are in excellent shape for the tournament every year. 16 dedicated ground staff tend to the courts and other facilities throughout the year to keep the All England Club at its best. During The Championships, the ground staff swells to 28 to care for the courts and facilities while matches are taking place. Wimbledon’s ground staff take their job very seriously. Neil Stubley, The Club’s head groundsman, describes Wimbledon as an “anxious time” as the entire world looks at the event’s iconic grass courts.
Beyond the green grass, what are Wimbledon’s courts made of? Every year, each of the courts is trimmed to a strict playing height of eight millimetres. When the courts aren’t in use, the height of the grass is extended to a slightly more relaxed 13mm. While Wimbledon’s iconic courts may be covered in grass, they’re backed up with a clay base. Head groundsman Neil Stubley believes the great ball bounce of the grass courts is caused by the dry clay base and firm, compacted court surface.
Which Wimbledon court would you like to play on?
From the iconic Centre Court to the infamous “Graveyard of Champions”, every one of Wimbledon’s famous grass courts has its own history and character. To sample the action for yourself, visit our Wimbledon tickets page.