The All England Lawn Tennis Championships started at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet (AELTC) Club in Wimbledon, London. Out of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments in the world, it is considered the oldest tennis tournament in the world, starting in 1877. Other Grand Slam tournaments started later, with the US Open starting in 1881, the French Open starting in 1891 and the Australian Open starting in 1905.
The tournament has taken place every year, except for a four-year break between 1914 and 1919 for the First World War and a six-year break between 1939 and 1946 for the Second World War.
St Ermin’s Hotel in Central London, an ideal place to stay while enjoying wimbledon, takes a look at 13 decades of the history and design evolution of official Wimbledon programmes.
The tournament ran for five days from July 2nd to July 7th and was the 11th staging of the Wimbledon Championships. Lottie Dod won the ladies single competition at the young age of 15 years and 285 days to become the youngest ever Wimbledon women’s singles champion.
Priced at sixpence, which equates to 28.8p ($0.49) as of 2011. The design of the programme was simplistic, given the fact that printing technology was basic then. It uses white card stock with all elements of the design in blue. A decorative border is used on the front page of the programme.
The tournament ran for nine days from July 9th to July 18th and was the 18th staging of the tournament. Joshua Pim defeated fellow Brit Wilfred Baddeley to win the men’s singles final.
The design of the programme took elements from the 1887 programme and was priced at threepence, which equates to 14.4p ($0.24) in todays money.
The programme utilizes a varying typeset spanning both serif and sans-serif and even calligraphic style fonts.
The tournament ran for twelve days from June 21st to July 3rd with Arthur Gore defeating fellow Briton Josiah Ritchie to win the men’s singles final.
The designs of the programmes throughout the 1900s remained fairly consistent to the style established in 1887 – simple, monochrome with use of decorative bordering and various typesets.
The 1922 tournament was the first Championships that were played at the present site in Church Road and ran for two weeks.
It is historically important as it was the first tournament of which all defending champions were required to play in the main draw, compared to the automatic by system called the Challenge Round which was used by the Men’s Singles, Ladies’ Singles and Men’s Doubles.
The design of the 1922 programme hasn’t seen much change, if at all, when compared to the 1909 programme. The varied typographic styles and decorative borders are still present!
1932’s programme was priced at one shilling, or ‘a bob’ or 57.5p ($0.98) in todays money.
The design of the 1932 uses a solid blue color scheme throughout, a very similar scheme to that used on the first programme created in 1887.
Unlike the 1922 programme, the form factor of the programme is wider and stays consistent with the rest of the programmes in following decades taking on a size more inline with a small magazine.
The 1948 tournament ran from June 21st to July 2nd and was the 62nd staging of the Wimbledon Championships. Similar to the 1932 championships, the tournament was the third Grand Slam tennis event of the year.
The 1940’s see the first time photography is used within the programme design and a more ‘traditional’ front cover which doesn’t show any fixture information in contrast to previous decades.
Wimbledon introduced more vivid colors to their programmes throughout the 1950s. The 1952 tournament ran from June 23rd to July 4th, lasting one week and four days.
From the 1950s, Wimbledon started to use block color on the front of their programmes but due to limited technological advancements in printing color photographs due to cost (The coloration of monochrome photographs continued into the 1960’s). The calligraphy font used in the 1940s was removed from the design of the 1950s programmes and replaced with a slightly lighter version of the serif font used on early programmes.
The 1969 tournament ran from June 23rd to July 5th and was the second edition of the event in the Open Era. The 1969 tournament included the boys and girls single matches, which were introduced into the tournament in 1967.
The design of the 1960s programmes followed on from where the 1950s left off, with a slight restructure of the front cover, font styles, colors and sizes, which remained until the end of the 1970s.
The 1974 tournament ran from June 24th to July 6th. It was the 88th staging of the Championship and the second Grand Slam event, whereas in other years, which have been featured in this article, it has been the third Grand Slam event of the year.
The 1983 tournament was played on the grass courts at the All England Lawn Tennis club in Wimbledon, London, held between June 20th and July 3 rd.
The design of the programme was changed significantly in the 1980s. The front cover photograph was removed from the design. The more common name of the tournament, Wimbledon, was placed on the front over along with a shortened version of the year, removing the 19 prefix from the year, whilst “The Lawn Tennis Championships” was made smaller and therefore less prominent. The Wimbledon headline was transformed into a 3D render, which is the first use since the tournament began.
Advancements in technology allowed Wimbledon to provide more color illustrations throughout the 1990’s with full colour illustrations being seen on covers from the mid 90’s onwards
The 2007 tournament was held between June 25th and July 8th and for the first time, there was equal prize money for the men and women’s single champions. The tournament also saw the construction of the roof over the center court and the third longest men’s single final of all time which lasted 3 hours and 45 minutes between Swiss Roger Federer and Spanish Rafael Nadal.
In contrast to previous years, the ‘Wimbledon’ and the ‘Lawn Tennis Championships’ event titles have equal prominence on the front cover, with the Lawn Tennis Championships headline shown at the top where as the Wimbledon headline was located at the bottom. A larger color illustration of center court, without the roof, was placed in the center of the front cover in line with the programme design trends set from the mid 90’s onwards.
Wimbledon 2013 has special value as Andy Murray, became the first man from the home of the sport and indeed Wimbledon, Great Britain to win the singles title since Fred Perry in 1936.
Following the programme design that continued throughout the 2000s, the programme was redesigned significantly. Block colors in the same tones as the official logo appear on the front page alongside large photographs of the Wimbledon trophy for the displayed programme for the Gentlemen’s final.
Additionally, this particular example is signed by Andy Murray himself.
N.B. All old to new British money conversions are correct as of 2011 and sourced from The Royal Mint Museum.