When it comes to sports in the United Kingdom, Wimbledon is one of the world’s oldest tennis tournaments and also one of the most watched sports in the world. It takes place in the last two weeks of June and early July. Now how many of us in childhood mirrored our idols and held our own championships in the back garden? In fact, how many of us in adulthood still act out our own Wimbledon tournament? So why do we all sit either at Wimbledon or in front of our television screens rooting for our heroes, where did the idea come from for us to pick up a tennis racket and hit a ball back and forth?
It is believed that the game's ancient origin lay in 12th century northern France where a ball was struck with the palm of the hand. It was said that Louis X of France was a keen player, which of course evolved into tennis we know today and became notable as the first person to construct indoor tennis courts in the modern style.
However It wasn't until the 16th century that rackets were used and the game began to be called "tennis", from the old French term tenez, which can be translated as "hold!", "receive!" or "take!", an interjection used as a call from the server to his opponent. King Henry VIII was a big fan of this game, which is now known as real tennis.
During the 18th century and early 19th century, as real tennis declined, new racket
sports emerged in England.
Now to the etiquette of not only good sportsmanship but also for the etiquette and manners of spectators. Firstly, let's look at the players, yes there are rules which have to be followed, however there is also general politeness and respect to each other playing in this historic game. As you see the match always starts off with a handshake (The sign of peace) and finishes with a handshake. There is no swearing, or inappropriate behaviour permitted. The game is indeed a competition, however once the game is over, like any sport the players bear no grudges etc and on occasions you will see these players indeed socialising with each other. The players are Ladies and Gentlemen and they must never forget this during and after the game as well. The dress codes are very strict, dark green and purple are traditional Wimbledon colours. However all tennis players participating in the tournament are required to wear all white which is a long-time tradition at Wimbledon.
Now for the spectators; they have to also remember and respect there are many other people visiting Wimbledon and they should respect each other. For example there are queues waiting to gain entry and as with all great British traditions, queuing is one of them. During which you don't complain or queue jump and wait your turn to be served. Once you arrive at your seat, you then keep all you personal items next to you! The other chair is not your personal luggage compartment. Remember to sit in an elegant manner and respect other people's space around you. Ladies, if your hat is rather large, you may opt to remove this in case it blocks the view of others behind you, and the same can be said for gentlemen wearing Panama hats. Keep voices low except when others take part in showing support, and of course clapping is recommend when appropriate. Please also remember that if you decide to enjoy a packed lunch or in fact any other food and drink, then please keep noise to a minimum! You don't really want to draw attention to yourself as you are not the half time entertainment. Lets not forget at this point Strawberry's and cream are a must while at Wimbledon but do remember to take the linen napkins! The consumption of alcohol is permitted only in public bars. Glass drinking vessels may not be used on the Show Courts; all drinks taken onto the Show Courts must be covered to avoid spillage. Hot and/or strong smelling food may not be taken onto the Show Courts. Also you cannot take Hard-sided containers/items – such as picnic hampers/ cool boxes, flasks and camping chairs in to the courts. Therefore, may I recommend The Wingfield Restaurant which is located on the 1st floor of the Centre Court Building above The Tea Lawn for your lunch.
With regard to dress codes, in general these are quite relaxed within Wimbledon, however please dress appropriately. For ladies I would recommend a lovely summer day dress and for gentlemen a smart shirt and chinos or similar. Of course if it rains we may require umbrellas and water proofs in case the great British weather misbehaves itself. Now with regard to the Royal box, this is a very different matter. There is indeed a dress code which is smart, suits/jacket and tie, etc. For Ladies, formal daywear and they are asked not to wear hats, as they tend to obscure the vision of those seated behind them. Thankfully, this also applies to fascinators, let's leave them and any other fascinating thing behind. If you are in the Royal Box, you will not be having any food or drink while seated there. Guests are invited to the Clubhouse for lunch, tea and drinks at the end of the day.
Recently, I ran a poll asking: Do you still want to see people correctly dressed in the Royal Box at Wimbledon? The results were very clear:
This goes to show that thankfully the majority agree that dress codes for the Royal Box at Wimbledon are important and need to remain in place. In the past, people have been refused entry to the Royal Box for not being dressed correctly which I feel is important as these traditions must be upheld.