The first championships were held in 1877 to celebrate the addition of, 'and Lawn Tennis', to the name of the All England Croquet club. Men's singles was the only event held that year and the tournament had only 22 players. When the day of the final arrived (Sunday), it brought with it the traditional Wimbledon rain and the match was delayed. The inclement British summer weather has since become almost as much of a feature of Wimbledon as the tennis.
Ladies' Singles and Men's Doubles were introduced in the Wimbledon in 1884. There were only 13 women participants. In a few years' time, both the varieties gained popularity. Soon the facilities for spectators were suitably improved as permanent stands gradually took the place of temporary accommodation.
British twins Ernest and William Renshaw were the first stars of Wimbledon. Popularly known as 'Renshaw Rush', the brothers won 13 titles between 1881 and 1889. May Sutton of the United States became the first champion from overseas when she won the Ladies' Singles in 1905. Two years later, Norman Brookes of Australia became the first Men's Singles champion from outside England. Brookes' victory brought a turnaround in Wimbledon. After him, only two British men, Arthur Gore and Fred Perry, could win the Wimbledon championship.
Suzanne Lenglen of France won the triple crown of Ladies Singles, Ladies Doubles, and Mixed Doubles in 1920. She was the first player to win all three titles in the same year. Around the same year, the construction work for new venue for Wimbledon Tournament to be located at Church Street started. Estimated cost of the new venue was £140,000. The new venue opened for business in 1922.
The first Wimbledon Champions to receive prize money for winning were Rod Laver and Billy Jean King. It was not until 2007, however, that the men's and ladies' champions received equal prize money. The prize pool for the 2009 tournament is over £11.8m
The 100th Championships in 1986 were celebrated in a variety of ways, including a special Dinner Party for those who had made significant contributions over the years.
The occasion of the Millennium was celebrated on the first Saturday when 64 Singles Champions, Doubles Champions four or more times, and singles finalists at least twice, paraded on Centre Court.