2023 Wimbledon preview

July 3, 2023
Wimbledon — tennis’ third Grand Slam of the year — is officially underway across the pond.
Sports NewsTennis
2023 Wimbledon preview
SOURCE: HISTORIC ENGLAND/TWITTER

📗 The history

Officially known as “The Championships, Wimbledon” (fancy), the competition dates back to 1877, making it the oldest — and arguably the most prestigious — tennis tournament in the world.

  • A fun fact? Since its inception, Wimbledon’s been played at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, a grass court (more on that later) nestled in the London neighborhood of Wimbledon, of course.

The tourney started with men’s singles only, but a women’s singles championship was introduced in 1884, the same year a men’s doubles tourney was added. By 1913, the tournament featured mixed doubles and women’s doubles, but Wimbledon wouldn’t open to professionals until 1968.

🎾 The surface

Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam tennis event played on grass, and similar to clay, pros either excel on or fall victim to the terrain.

  • The grass is so precious to the club that Serena Williams was fined a whopping $10,000 (!!!) in 2019 for damaging the court during practice. It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks for the “get off my lawn” crowd.
  • Another way organizers protected the court? Installing a retractable roof over Centre Court back in 2009 in preparation for rainy English days. Surprisingly, this upgrade was met with lots of controversy.

Back to those players who excel on the surface, while they haven’t quite reached Rafael Nadal’s “King of Clay” status, legend Martina Navratilova and the recently retired Roger Federer can be considered the goddess and god of grass.

  • Navratilova’s won a whopping nine Wimbledon singles titles, the most of any tennis player, and Federer’s secured eight, the most of any man.

🍓 The traditions

With nearly 150 years of history, Wimbledon features many notable traditions. For starters, the tournament mandates a strict dress code for participants, complete with a list of rules dedicated specifically to clothing and equipment, including the mandate of an all-white dress code, all the way down to undergarments (yes, seriously).

  • The original reasoning behind the color choice was due, in part, to the “cooling effects,” and to allow athletes to sweat discreetly since signs of sweat were deemed “improper.” As mentioned, things have fortunately changed slightly this year.

As for a much sweeter tradition, Wimbledon’s also known for a delicious summertime snack staple — strawberries and cream.

  • An average of 200k servings of strawberries and cream are consumed at each tournament, purchased at a price that’s remained the same since 2010: £2.50 (about $3.20 USD).Spectators are allowed to bring their own bottle of wine or champagne or two cans of beer to cut down on costs.

And finally, it’s not Wimbledon without a member of the Royal Family making an appearance. This will be the first Championship under King Charles III, and while it’s TBD if he’ll show in the stands, some member of the royal family will likely be present.

💪 Women to watch

🇵🇱 World No. 1 Iga Świątek: Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but 2023 French Open champ Świątek is the favorite to nab her fifth career Grand Slam title. And after her historic run was cut surprisingly short with a third round exit last year, this Swiftie will no doubt be dressing for revenge.

🏅 World No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka: With Wimbledon’s ban on Russian and Belarusian players lifted, Sabalenka will compete under a neutral flag as she looks to emulate her 2021 run to the semifinals, a feat that would give the 2023 Australian Open winner her fourth straight Grand Slam semis appearance.

🇰🇿 World No. 3 Elena Rybakina: The reigning champ stunned the tennis world last year, serving up plenty of upsets en route to her maiden Grand Slam title. And if anyone’s going to dethrone Świątek, it’s her — Rybakina ousted the World No. 1 in the fourth round of January’s Australian Open.

🇺🇲 Venus Williams: She’s back, baby. After returning to the court for the first time in five months in June, Williams will make her 24th career Wimbledon singles’ appearance via a wild-card entry. Venus wrote on Instagram “I love what I do, and I believe in what I am doing,” following her aforementioned return — we certainly love to see her do it.

👊 Men to watch

🇪🇸 World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz: Though he’s known for his play on clay, the Spaniard notched his first career grass court victory at the end of June, securing him the No. 1 seed at Wimbledon. That said, he did skip last week’s pre-tournament tune-up exhibition event due to injury concerns, leaving doubts about his fitness heading into the tourney.

🇷🇸 World No. 2 Novak Djokovic: Fresh off last month’s record-setting French Open victory, the Joker has a chance to break a tie with Serena Williams for most Grand Slam singles titles in modern history and keep his quest for the Calendar Slam alive. Is it possible to reverse manifest something?

🏅 World No. 3 Daniil Medvedev: Yet another star missing from last year’s lineup, the Russian’s had an up-and-down 2023 campaign, rising as high as world No. 2 before suffering a stunning first-round upset at May’s French Open. He’s played well on grass courts in recent weeks, setting him up for a deep run in London.

🇺🇲 World No. 9 Taylor Fritz: Recent upsets aside, grass is where Fritz mows down the competition, with two of his four career titles coming on the surface. Plus, his best Grand Slam performance came at Wimbledon when he reached the quarter-finals last year. With more experience under his belt, expect the top American to go deeper this year.

📺 How to tune in

The 128 men’s and women’s singles contenders officially began their two-week quest for the Gentlemen’s Singles Trophy and Venus Rosewater Dish this morning and you can catch all the action airing on ESPN in the U.S. and TSN in Canada.

  • Then mark your cal for the women’s singles final on Saturday, July 15th, followed by the men’s on Sunday, July 16th. Jolly good.

Don't get The GIST’s free newsletter yet? Let's make it email official.

Subscribe