In the year 1859 Harry Gem, a solicitor from Birmingham, England and a Spanish friend, Augurio Perera experimented with ideas for a new game on a croquet lawn.
In the year 1859 Harry Gem, a solicitor from Birmingham, England and a Spanish friend, Augurio Perera experimented with ideas for a new game on a croquet lawn. This was the start of lawn tennis, which, from discreet beginnings, has grown into one of the world's most popular sports -- and -- for those who play it at the highest level - one of the most lucrative.
SYNOPSIS: Eighteen years after Gem and Perera carried out their experiments, the first lawn tennis championships were staged at Wimbledon in south west London. This year is the centenary of these championships and to mark the occasion the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum has opened its doors to the public.
The museum charts the progress of lawn tennis, starting with it's antecedents -- like this game of real tennis played in Elizabethan England -- and moves through to the present day when men like American Jimmy Connors and Sweden's Bjorn Borg earn vast sums of money from Gem's invention. For year lawn tennis retained it's genteel image -- but eventually burst forth as a ferociously competitive sport.
Other related ball games are also featured in the museum -- this early squash court is one example -- and the refined aristocrats and bourgeoisie of the Regency period are featured playing badminton in their living rooms.
There are 19 display areas in the museum -- one of them is an old workshop where a craftsman is putting the finishing touches to a hand-made racket. Another depicts a Victorian parlour crammed with tennis bri-a-brac of the day.
Another display shows the changes in tennis fashions from the long skirts and trousers of the Victorian era to the scantier outfits of the modern player. There is also a reconstruction of the original Wimbledon changing room.
Although great emphasis is laid on the history of lawn tennis -- with artifacts and pictures lovingly preserved and displayed in context with the period they represent. Modern tennis is not overlooked and to co-incide with the centenary a book has been published called "100 Years of Wimbledon". It contains a summary of the careers of every champion since 1877.
An early scoreboard -- a forerunner of today's electronic marvels. Something like this was probably used when in 1907 left-handed Australian player Norman Brookes became the first non-British Wimbledon champion.
Bringing the highlists of tennis history of life, a theatre built into the museum shows excerpts from famous matches from a collection of 400 cassettes. One item features the first-ever BBC sound broadcast from Wimbledon -- and there are plenty of action shots of post World War Two champions like Jaroslav Drobny, "Little Mo" Maureen Connolly, Margaret Court, Maria bueno, Arthur Ashe and others. A parade of more than 40 past champions will mark the opening of the centenary year Wimbledon championships. Other plans include the striking of a souvenir platinum medal and a visit by Queen Elizabeth to present the women's singles prize on the first of July.