With this week marking the start of undoutedly the greatest lawn tennis competition, we thought it fitting that we mark the event by taking a look at the history of the competition and then have a look at this years most fancied competitors.
The history part.
Wimbledon has been running since 1877, originally a men only competition, around 200 spectators paid a shilling each (just under £20 in modern money) to watch Spencer Gore win the first competition from a total of 22 competitors at the original home of the The All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club, Croquet was later dropped from the title in 1882 but brought back 7 years later for sentimental reasons.
In 1884, two more events were added to the calendar: ladies singles and gentlemans doubles. Ladies doubles and mixed doubles were introduced in 1913. Junior and invitational events were added later.
Wimbledon is the oldest tennis competition in the world and the only one of the four Grand Slams played every year to still be played on grass.
Wimbledon remained an amateur competition until 1968.
The last British man to win was Fred Perry back in 1936, the British ladies fared a little better with Virgina Wade winning in 1977.
In 1993 a major redevelopment of Wimbledon was agreed and the new Centre court was opened four years later with other works continuing over the years, the latest addition being a retractable roof for Centre court that was finished in 2009, meaning that for the first time, there was no reason why rain should “stop play”.
This years male contenders.
The four contenders for this years Mens title according to the bookies are: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
Roger Federer seems to have regained some of his sparkling best at Roland Garros this year and although he lost to Rafael Nadal in the final, he has won 6 Wimbledon titles previously so should not be written off easily.
Odds of 1.96 for him to reach the mens final and 3.25 for him to win it are not unrealistic considering the immense quality he possesses.
Rafael Nadal won his tenth title at Roland Garros and will be looking to retain the Wimbledon crown after last years win, at just 26 he is well on his way to becoming the games most decorated player but he has struggled on grass in the past and perhaps that is why he is slightly behind Federer in the odds. 3.65 definitely does not rule him out of the running though and he is the current favourite to make it into the final at odds of 1.81
Novak Djokovic won 43 games in a row in 2011, including winning the Australian Open, he is certainly the man in form this year and a good showing at Wimbledon could push him into the World No.1 position.
His odds are 4 to win the competition and 2.56 to reach the final look very good value and a good run could create trading opportunities.
Home support is probably behind the fact that Andy Murray sits fourth in the bookies odds opposed to a player like Tomas Berdych. He’ll be glad that he has managed to navigate the first round pitfall that has dogged him since he lost in the Australian open Final against Djokovic.
Lacking great form, his chances of winning Wimbledon look slimmer than the odds of 8 offered by the bookies. Having said that, with the nation following his every move, any semblance of form could shorten those odds dramatically.
This years female contenders.
Maria Sharapova leads the bookies tables for the Ladies crown, just ahead of the returning Serena Williams, Petra Kvitova and this years in form player Na Li.
At odds of 5, Sharapovas odds of winning the Ladies title this year look a little short; the 2004 Champion hasn’t been in the best of form the last few years but she battled well at Roland Garros before succumbing to Na Li in the semi finals. Her experience at this competition should be very useful to her and if she has regained her focus, she has a strong chance of going all the way to the final.
Hoping to burst those hopes will be Serena Williams, just behind Sharapova in the betting at 5.5, she will be hoping she has put her injury worries behind her and retain the title she won last year. Never one to disappoint her fans at Wimbledon, I think she could be this years winner.
A left hander from the Czech Republic sits third in the bookies odds at 8, the World No.3 will be looking to justify her ranking with a strong performance at Wimbledon. The winner of 3 WTA titles this year would love to add Wimbledon to her CV for 2011.
Na Li sits third in the betting and, after her win at Roland Garros, goes into this competition full of confidence. The Chinese powerhouse has shot up the World Rankings this year and her odds of 11 offer good value considering the amazing form she is in, doubts about her ability on grass have been dispelled a little by her opening 6-1, 6-1 match against Anastasija Sevastova.
Last years number 9 seed got through to the qurter finals and will be looking to improve on that record this time round.
A good outside bet and another chance for a possible trade.