Who invented Wimbledon? No, it wasn’t the wombles. When we speak of Wimbledon, we all know that rip-roaring rallies and super smashes lay ahead. But how exactly did the legendary tennis tournament declare game, set and match, and become the world’s most important location for hitting unstoppable aces?

Join Jaques of London, as we give a nod to our own legacy and ask, who invented Wimbledon?


How Did Wimbledon Start?


The origins of the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament are surprisingly less based in tennis than they are in another popular garden game. Nowadays, it would be hard to imagine anything other than aggressive grunts, backhand slices and precise lobs gracing the hallowed grounds. But once upon a time, tennis at Wimbledon was little more than an afterthought.

Did you know, Jaques of London played a key role in bringing the Wimbledon Tennis Championships to life? Long before tennis made its way onto the famous grass courts, the centre stage of SW19 was home to another popular lawn game, Croquet.

It was of course John Jaques II who was famed for bringing croquet to our shores during the world-renowned Great Exhibition of 1851. This giant showcase of the countries greatest in industry and culture would see more than a third of the countries population pass through, making croquet the latest pastime to excite the masses.


When Did Wimbledon Begin?


By 1868, croquet had grown to such a degree that 6 sporting gentlemen felt fit to open the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. By 1875, a single court had been set aside in order for Tennis to be given a space to shine – although it was known by the less welcoming name of ‘Sphairistike’ – perhaps a sign that croquet was still the national craze of choice.

However, things would soon change and the true inventors of the Wimbledon tournament as we know it would steal a march on croquet, knocking their balls out of place in the quest to make tennis the nation’s next favourite game. It would only be another 2 years before the first full competitive tournament would be held, with it’s winner, Spencer Gore declaring that, “Lawn tennis will never rank among our great games.”

Unfortunately for John Jaques II, this would not be the case. The popularity of tennis erupted in the following years, with the introduction of women’s matches, double tournaments and mixed competitions, making croquet a distant memory of the newly founded Church Road site, where the tournament is still held to this day. By 1882, the word croquet was removed from the club name altogether.


When Wimbledon Meant Tennis


By 1932, Wimbledon was already a national treasure, with the tournament playing host to 200,000 eager tennis attendees. Fortunately, this wouldn’t be the end of the John Jaques tale when it comes to rackets, bats, nets and balls. The man responsible for bringing croquet to a nation excited for new leisure activities, may have seen his creation diminished by the emergence of an all-new lawn game, but he certainly wasn’t finished making an impact on fun.

But, for now, tennis had won the match. Despite the uncertain proclamations of its very first champion, 2021 will mark the 134th edition of the tournament, where professionals such as Boris Becker, Billie Jean King, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Andy Murray and Pete Sampras have brought thousands to their feet in the elation of centre court.

For more fascinating sporting facts, keep an eye on Jaques of London in the coming month. With the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in full swing, we will be taking a look at the origins of some of the countries most popular, traditional games.


And of course, as the world’s oldest games manufacturers, don’t be surprised to see the Jaques name pop up along the way. So, the next time you wonder who invented Wimbledon, look no further than the gaming legacy of Jaques of London.

Kate Luke
Head Of Brand
After graduating with a 2.1 Music degree, Kate pursued a career in the Music Industry, becoming a professional West End vocalist and a fully qualified Music Teacher, School Choir Leader and Songwriter. As one of Jaques of London’s Creative Editors, her specialism surrounds building confidence and expression through music & play—drawing upon her qualifications in Music Psychology & Child Development. As well as this, she is an accomplished blog writer and published journalist who enjoys promoting the importance of Montessori learning for all ages.
Ben Williamson
Creative Writer
Ben is passionate about Montessori learning for children and has written for many parenting publications to bring the magic of real play to families in the UK. After graduating in 2009, his career has enabled him to work in areas such as Child Development and Psychology. As a great believer that learning starts at home, he combines his experience with his own parenting style to help bring other families together.
Jess Casson
Marketing Assistant
Jess graduated from the University of York in 2022 with a degree in Sociology and Criminology; kickstarting her career in the creative marketing industry through content creation and social media management. One of these roles involved creating content for a children's holiday camp, which alongside a knowledge of Montessori Teaching, formed an interest in childhood development. Utilising her expertise in both these fields has allowed her to promote and share her passions with the online community while exploring her talent for writing and establishing collaborations.
Laura Henderson
Interior Designer
Interior Designer, Laura Henderson, lives in Surrey with her husband and two daughters. Taking a timeless approach to her designs and drawing on her love of colour, antiques, art, modernist furniture and photography she delivers luxurious compositions and peaceful sanctuaries within every space. Her previous experience in furniture design plays an integral role in the development of each of her projects, as does the time she spends getting to know her clients. She uses this to achieve beautiful, practical, reimagined layouts, resulting in projects that enhance a client’s lifestyle, reflecting their individual passions. To learn more see her website www.laurahendersoninteriordesign.com.

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