The summer that never was – Wimbledon’s history in rare pictures

It is the week that marks the very height of the English summer: Royal Ascot over, Goodwood and the Game Fair to come, and Wimbledon at its height.

6th July 1925:  British tennis player Joan Fry (left) and France's Suzanne Lenglen on the court before the women's singles final at the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships, which Lenglen won.  (Photo by E. Bacon/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
6th July 1925: British tennis player Joan Fry (left) and France's Suzanne Lenglen on the court before the women's singles final at the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships, which Lenglen won. (Photo by E. Bacon/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

But with the social season called off and the summer weather having come and gone, we must resort to memories from the archive to remind us of strawberries and cream teas that never were.

Wimbledon has been a fixture on both the social and sporting calendars since 1877, when the first men’s championship was held before a crowd of 200 on one of the lawns of the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club on Worple Road, Wimbledon – and these pictures trace the story almost back to the beginning.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

It was initially a British affair, and it wasn’t until 1095 that the American May Sutton becomes the first overseas champion, by winning the ladies’ singles. Two years later Norman Brookes of Australia became the first international men’s champion.

June 1927: Ball boys at the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

The championships got into their stride in the interwar years, with the move to their present home on Church Road, the first TV coverage and a hat-trick of wins, in successive years, by Fred Perry – ending nearly a quarter-century of foreign domination.

The roof of the centre court was damaged by a Luftwaffe bomb in 1940 and had not been fully repaired when the championships resumed. But it was a golden era, with Angela Mortimer defeating Christine Truman in 1961, in the first all-British singles final since 1914.

It was also an age of evolution. In 1968 professionals played against amateurs for the first time and the stage was set for the tennis stars who became household names. But there have been only three British singles champions in the Open era: Ann Haydon-Jones in 1969, Virginia Wade in 1977, and Andy Murray in 2013 and 2016.

Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

July 1935: Spectators standing at No 1 court, Wimbledon are wearing newspapers folded into hats and knotted handkerchiefs as protection against the sun. (Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)

Almost certainly you are here because you value the quality and the integrity of the journalism produced by The Yorkshire Post’s journalists - almost all of which live alongside you in Yorkshire, spending the wages they earn with Yorkshire businesses - who last year took this title to the industry watchdog’s Most Trusted Newspaper in Britain accolade.

And that is why I must make an urgent request of you: as advertising revenue declines, your support becomes evermore crucial to the maintenance of the journalistic standards expected of The Yorkshire Post. If you can, safely, please buy a paper or take up a subscription. We want to continue to make you proud of Yorkshire’s National Newspaper but we are going to need your help.

Postal subscription copies can be ordered by calling 0330 4030066 or by emailing [email protected]. Vouchers, to be exchanged at retail sales outlets - our newsagents need you, too - can be subscribed to by contacting subscriptions on 0330 1235950 or by visiting www.localsubsplus.co.uk where you should select The Yorkshire Post from the list of titles available.

If you want to help right now, download our tablet app from the App / Play Stores. Every contribution you make helps to provide this county with the best regional journalism in the country.

English tennis champion Fred Perry leaps over the net after defeating Australia's Jack Crawford in the men's singles final at Wimbledon. Original Publication: People Disc - HH0197 (Photo by H F Davis/Getty Images)

Sincerely. Thank you.

James Mitchinson, Editor

Employees are mowing the lawn on court n·1 at Wimbledon stadium prior to the Tennis championships which are due to begin tomorrow, 26 june 1939. (Photo by - / AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)