Wimbledon Tennis 2013: Why Historic Tournament Is Most Prestigious Grand Slam

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Wimbledon Tennis 2013: Why Historic Tournament Is Most Prestigious Grand Slam
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Wimbledon's prestige comes from its longevity.

Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world, dating all the way back to 1877. When you win at the event, you are part of a history that extends past a century.

The tournament has also witnessed some of the greatest tennis players to ever play this game. That includes Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and the late Brit William Renshaw, who have each captured seven Wimbledon titles. Renshaw, if your memory is a bit murky, won his first Wimbledon championship in 1881.

Wimbledon also housed the rivalry between John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg. Their five-set match in the 1980 final was considered one of the greatest matches ever played. Borg won that one, only to watch McEnroe exact revenge in the 1981 final.

And who can forget the 2008 Wimbledon final between Federer and Rafael Nadal, widely lauded as the greatest match in tennis history?

Bruce Jenkins wrote at the time, via the San Francisco Chronicle:

What a scene: Nadal flat on his back after four hours and 48 minutes of glory, the longest Wimbledon final in history, made nearly two hours longer by a pair of rain delays. Nadal propelling himself into the Friends Box (leave it to Rafa to take the most difficult route) and coming out of it with a Spanish flag. Nadal walking along the roof above the TV broadcasters to reach the Spanish royalty, Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia of Asturias, who made the very worthwhile journey to London. And then Nadal back on the court, in a swirl of flashbulbs, to celebrate the first Wimbledon men's victory by a Spaniard since Manuel Santana in 1966.

Wimbledon is also the only major still played on grass, the sport's original surface. The grass not only pays a homage to the beginnings of tennis, balls react differently on the surface, bouncing less than on clay and favoring the serving game and the backhand.

And you cannot talk about Wimbledon without talking about its long-standing traditions, which stress etiquette and modesty, which is probably one of the reasons why the reserved Federer has been so revered at the All England Club throughout the years.

Those traditions range from competitors wearing white clothing to the ball boys and ball girls being required to act a certain way. 

Back in 2006, ball boy/ball girl instructor Faisal Abdalla may have described the teenagers' roles in the tournament the best, via the Telegraph: "A good BBG should not be seen. They should blend into the background and get on with their jobs quietly."

The Royal Family has also been known to attend Wimbledon throughout the years, and players are sometimes required to bow to royalty.

After beating Fabio Fognini at Wimbledon 2009, Federer said after bowing to Prince Charles and the Dutchess of Cornwall, via ESPN.com:

They do brief you beforehand. I guess you don't do anything stupid. You behave. Obviously we were asked to bow, which is obviously no problem to do. We're thrilled for the tennis family that they came to watch Wimbledon today.

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Perhaps that's another part of Wimbledon's prestige. In a world that seems to become more and more complicated, Wimbledon keeps it simple: Be respectful and play with honor. It's amazing how often this doesn't apply in tennis these days.

But don't ask me; ask some of the top players in the world, including world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

Djokovic said back in 2009, via BBC Sport: "I was always dreaming of winning Wimbledon, it's the most prestigious event so hopefully I will have the opportunity and honour one day."

Fittingly, Djokovic won Wimbledon in 2011, his best year as a pro to date. 

When you walk into Wimbledon, you aren't just walking into a tournament—you are walking into an entirely different experience unmatched in the game of tennis. You leave your ego, your prior success, your bravado at the entrance, and simply play tennis for the fans and those who came before you.

 

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