It’s late June (and rain is forecast) so therefore it must be time for the Wimbledon Tennis Championships once more. The grass courts of the All England Tennis Club are once again in use for Wimbledon, the oldest tennis tournament on earth and also the most respected. Since 1877 the two week tournament has been a regular at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London SW19. Part of the Grand Slam tennis series, top tennis players from around the world compete on grass courts, the only major tournament that still plays on the ‘lawn’ (hence the name).
The summer of 2012 will be a special season for the All England Tennis Club; as well as hosting the 126th version of the tournament, but it will also be hosting the tennis events for the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games which will start on 27 July. The groundskeepers will be working overtime this season and many of the top players will be playing two major tournaments in the space of a month.
Quick guide to the key Wimbledon tournament players 2012
The 2012 Championships will feature twelve individual tournaments over the two weeks of tennis. They include:
• The 128-player draw Men’s and Women’s tournaments, which tends to attract the most attention over the fortnight (champions Novak Djokovic and Petra Kvitová return, respectively).
• The Men’s and Women’s doubles tournaments, which each feature a 64-team draw (Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan won the 2011 Men’s Tournament while Květa Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik won the Women’s).
• The Mixed Doubles Tournament, which features a draw of 32-teams (Jürgen Melzer and Iveta Benešová are returning champions).
• Boys and Girls Singles and Doubles tournaments, which features young men and women playing 64- player tournaments).
• Wheelchair Singles and Doubles which feature both a Men’s and Women’s draw.
In addition, several "Legends" singles and doubles tournaments are featured during the second week, with many former tennis legends and Wimbledon champions returning to play.
The 2012 Wimbledon tournament features one of the most wide open men’s and women’s draws in recent memory. The Men’s tournament will feature the "Big Four" of Novak Djokovic (seed 1), Rafael Nadal (2) Roger Federer (3) and Andy Murray (4). Djokovic and Nadal are looking to continue their recent dominance of the sport, while Federer is looking to add another major to his record breaking total. Murray, on the other hand, is still looking to break through, and become a hero for Britain. Murray is known as the "Best to have never won a major". He is looking to change this on his home turf.
The Ladies Singles Tournament is looking more wide open than it has been in decades. Besides returning champion Kvitová returning, you also have French Open Champion Maria Sharapova (seed 1) looking to win her first title at Wimbledon since 2004. In addition, you have Victoria Azarenka (2), Agnieszka Radwanska (3), US Open winner Samantha Stosur, and American Serena Williams all looking to capture the title.
Wimbledon from a spectator’s point of view
Obtaining tickets can be something of a lottery. Visitors can enter a public ballet which closes the December before each tournament, queue up on the day or buy official debenture tickets which can prove costly.
For those who are making their first trek to Wimbledon for the tournament, this year running 25 June – 8 July 2012, expect a thrilling day out (rain allowing) steeped in history and tradition. While Wimbledon can be a party, it is also a tournament that knows and understands its roots. Players traditionally wear all-white clothing on the grass, while fans are expected to be respectful in the crowd. Be sure to try the strawberries, cream and champagne, which are essential for those who are looking to immerse themselves in the full Wimbledon experience.
It's common for rain to delay play for periods during the two week tournament, meaning that as a spectator you need to be ready for it. Make sure that you dress in layers and bring a waterproof coat and hat so that you can stay dry if rain does occur. Although if you’re lucky enough to get tickets for Centre Court, there is a retractable roof, which eliminates the rain altogether.