Biggest Events in Sports Wimbledon Part 2

About Wimbledon, history, information and highlights from the major sporting event and one of the biggest tennis tournaments.

WIMBLEDON

HIGHLIGHTS IN ITS HISTORY

1877 A crowd of about 200, most of whom arrived in horse-drawn carriages in formal attire, paid one shilling each to see Spencer William Gore defeat William Marshall, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4, in the first Wimbledon championship.

The event took place in a parklike setting. There were no bleachers. Spectators stood on the sidelines or sat in their carriages. The court was set up on a croquet lawn that today is used for women's field hockey. A set of rules were given out that included such things as "players must wear shoes without heels." The 22 competitors were also warned that "if matches are not completed by Thursday, play will be adjourned." It seems an important cricket match was set for Friday.

Gore, 37, was not a regular tennis player. He much preferred cricket. Marshall, 28, was the favorite owing to his frequent tennis victories on the local circuit. Marshall was a defensive player, preferring to stand back and hit from the baseline. Gore was the aggressor, constantly rushing the net. Gore had a habit of hitting the ball before it bounced--volleying--which was unheard of prior to that time. He even stuck his racket over the net to hit the ball, a tactic illegal in modern-day tennis.

Gore had Marshall outclassed and won the match in only 50 min. "Lawn tennis is a bit boring," Gore reportedly said afterwards. "It will never catch on."

Gore lost his title to P.F. Hadow the next year, then played very little thereafter. He died at 56, alone, all but forgotten by tennis.

The year following Gore's loss saw one of the unique finals in Wimbledon history--the Saint versus the Sinner. The Rev. J. T. Hartley, who drove home halfway through the tournament to give a sermon, defeated Vere Thomas St. Leger Gould in the finals. Years later, Gould was convicted of dismembering a woman's body with vicious forehands and was sent to France's notorious Devil's Island, where he eventually died.

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