The oldest tennis tournament in the world

One of London’s most legendary sporting events returns this July to thrill and entertain people from the city and beyond. The Championship has been played at the All England Club in Wimbledon since 1877, making it the oldest tennis tournament in the world.

To mark the 140th year of the event, we have selected an exciting film that reveals what Wimbledon was like nearly 80 years ago as our Film of the Month.

Shot in 1938 by an unknown filmmaker, the black and white silent film captures tennis players competing on Centre Court. It includes scenes of Queen Mary and the Royal Party arriving in their finery to watch Don Budge win his final match as an amateur. Budge went on to be World No. 1 for five years straight.

Crowds fill the venue and take their places, with those not lucky enough to get seats peering over hedges to catch a glimpse of the game.

Today’s tennis attire has come a long way from the all-white full-length trousers for men and full pleated skirts for women of the 1930s, but the more formal clothing seems to do little to restrict the players’ movement as they thwack the ball back and forth over the net.

The thrilling action sequences of players leaping to hit the ball demonstrate the athletic prowess and sheer determination necessary to win. The concentration on their faces is only matched by that of the captivated spectators, who watch on the edge of their seats and applaud the winners.

 

This Film of the Month blog was researched and written by Film London intern Francesca.

 

For the full LSA catalogue record of the film visit  https://www.londonsscreenarchives.org.uk/public/details.php?id=20469

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