Jungfrau Zeitung – Divines, Kings, Bombs, Tears and Triumphs

Centre Court Wimbledon | July 7, 2022

This year, the legendary Center Court in Wimbledon will be 100 years old. He has experienced a lot in this century: from kings – royal and sporty – to bombs, tears and triumphs.

Roger Federer in the match against Rafael Nadal in 2006.Photo: Keystone, AP Photo, Anja Niedringhaus

After the First World War, tennis boomed in England. The old facility on Worple Road in Wimbledon was no longer sufficient. On June 22, 1922, the then King George V inaugurated the new facility on Church Road about three kilometers away with a center court for around 10,000 spectators at the time, where games are still played today. As it should be for England with about an hour delay due to rain. Since then, this place has seen a lot.

1922: Suzanne Lenglen, the Divine

The first winners were Gerald Patterson from Australia and Suzanne Lenglen from France. The Parisian, nicknamed “The Divine” because of her elegant style and flamboyant attire, won the tournament six times and never lost a game on the new Center Court.

1936: Perry wins in 40 minutes

Fred Perry, later known for his clothing line, won the shortest men’s final in 40 minutes 6:1, 6:1, 6:0 against the German Gottfried von Cramm. The short duration can also be explained by the fact that it was not until 1975 that chairs for sitting down when changing sides were introduced. It would be 77 years before a British man triumphed again. But Perry is still the last winner from England.

Fred Perry emerged victorious from the shortest men's final in Wimbledon history.  Here in 1935.

Fred Perry emerged victorious from the shortest men’s final in Wimbledon history. Here in 1935.Photo: Keystone, AP Photo

1940: Bombs on Center Court

During World War II, a German aerial bomb fell on Center Court, destroying around 1,200 spectator seats. The All England Lawn Tennis Club facility was used by the military during wartime.

1947: First winner in shorts

American Jack Crawford was the first winner to play in shorts.

1957: Queen honors first black winner

To this day, the dress code at Wimbledon is “mostly white”, and tennis has been the sport of the white upper class for many years. In 1957, 29-year-old American Althea Gibson made history by becoming the first black player to win the title. She received the trophy from Queen Elizabeth II, who has attended the tournament four times – in 1957, 1962, 1977 and 2010 – in her 70-year reign. Gibson later observed, “Shaking the hand of the Queen of England is very different from being forced to sit at the back of the black section on a bus.” For men, Arthur Ashe followed in 1975 as the first black champion.

1976 to 1980: heartthrob Björn Borg

Björn Borg ushered in the era of tennis as a mass phenomenon. From 1976 to 1980, the cool and cool Swede won five times in a row. The women in particular were blown away, as at rock concerts, some even waved their bras from the stands.

Sweden's Bjorn Borg kisses his trophy after his win in 1980.

Sweden’s Bjorn Borg kisses his trophy after his win in 1980.Foto: Keystone, AP Photo, Bob Dear

1981: McEnroes «You Cannot Be Serious»

The polar opposite of Borg was John McEnroe. At the beginning of the 1980s, the New York hotspur and three-time Wimbledon champion became famous with brilliant tennis, but even more with his outbursts of anger. “You Cannot Be Serious” (You can’t be serious) he raged in 1981 and explained to the referee that chalk had clearly blown up. He promptly received a point deduction, but won the tournament and is now a welcome guest as a TV expert.

1978 to 1990: Lawn Queen Navratilova

The undisputed queen of the Wimbledon lawn is Martina Navratilova with nine singles and another eleven doubles and mixed titles. In addition, the left-hander from Prague was the first openly lesbian sports star to set social accents.

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1985: A German star is born

At the age of 17, unseeded Boris Becker became the youngest player to date to win the tournament – and suddenly became a German superstar.

Boris Becker is still the youngest winner at Wimbledon.  Here is the 17-year-old in action.

Boris Becker is still the youngest winner at Wimbledon. Here is the 17-year-old in action.Foto: Keystone, AP Photo, Robert Dear

1987: Climbing into the grandstand

Two years later, Australian Pat Cash shocked the distinguished Brits when he climbed onto the stands to hug his loved ones after his surprise final win.

1992: Agassi in Weiss

Bird of paradise Andre Agassi initially boycotted Wimbledon because he didn’t want to play in boring white. In 1991 he gave in and in 1992 he celebrated his first of eight Grand Slam titles here.

1993: Consoling Duchess

The picture of Jana Novotna crying uncontrollably on the shoulder of the Duchess of Kent at the award ceremony went around the world. She lost a clear lead against Steffi Graf in the final. Five years later, the Czech, who died far too early from cancer in 2017, still won her only title.

Jana Novotna can't hold back the tears after her defeat.

Jana Novotna can’t hold back the tears after her defeat. Foto: Keystone, AP Photo, Dave Caulkin

1997: Teenager Hingis im Zenit

At the age of 16 years and 278 days, Martina Hingis became the youngest individual winner since 1887 – and the first Swiss Grand Slam winner in an individual event. In doubles, Heinz Günthardt (1985 with Hungary’s Balazs Taroczy) and Hingis had triumphed for the first time in Wimbledon in 1996.

2009: A roof for Center Court

It was a technical and social sensation: The venerable Center Court received a closable roof. The marvel, which costs over 100 million francs and weighs around 3,000 tons, is a complete success. The character of the stadium has been preserved, and games can now also be played when it rains and when it gets dark – because of the local residents, until 11 p.m. at the latest. The first full game with the roof closed was lost by Stan Wawrinka against Andy Murray in 2009, the first indoor final – the roof was closed towards the end of the game – was won by Roger Federer in 2012 against Murray. Court 1 has also had a roof since 2019.

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2012: Wimbledon in Pink

Wimbledon and Center Court in pink and with sponsor advertising instead of the traditional green and purple. The facility was transformed for the Olympic Games in London. These were the second games at the All England Club, in 1908 the old facility was still the venue. Andy Murray won against Roger Federer in the final, and a year later the Scot also triumphed regularly at Wimbledon – 77 years after Fred Perry.

Roger Federer after his victory in 2005, when he celebrated his third title.

Roger Federer after his victory in 2005, when he celebrated his third title.Photo: Keystone, EPA, Fabrice Coffrini

2003 to 2017: King Roger

The record winner for men is – of course – Roger Federer. From 2003 to 2007, as well as in 2009, 2012 and 2017, he accepted the trophy with the strange pineapple decoration on top eight times, and he also won the juniors’ club in 1998. In addition, the man from Basel also made a fashion statement with his special outfits when entering the square. This year he was absent from the men’s tournament for the first time since 1998. However, he did not miss the appearance on Sunday for the anniversary celebrations. “I want to come here again as a player,” Federer promised. To the site of his greatest successes – and to the best that tennis has to offer.