Even for those not big on the game of tennis, Wimbledon holds a special place in our hearts. Andy Murray’s win – love him or loathe him – certainly peaked interest back in 2013, and most of us look excitedly towards the final every year.
This year’s competition hasn’t seen much in the way of shocks or upsets (although Marcus Willis taking 7 games from Roger Federer gave Centre Court some early first week cheers), but it does see the implementation of a few changes to the set-up of the tournament. Luckily for us at home, Today at Wimbledon returns to our television screens after the dull Wimbledon 2day was axed, while this year’s singles tournament is also the first time that the prize money at stake will top £2m.
There are also changes to the Wheelchair Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ competitions, with this year marking the first time a wheelchair singles tournament will be played. Wheelchair tennis was first created by Brad Parks and Jeff Minnenbraker, two wheelchair users from the US, in 1976. The sport has been competed at the Paralympics since 1992 Barcelona and will be appearing again this year in Rio, with doubles, mixed and singles competitions splitting 6 gold medals.
Last year, a record 5 British wheelchair tennis players competed at Wimbledon in the Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ doubles. Jordanne Whiley (ranked 3rd in the world) and her partner Yui Kamiji defended their doubles title, while fellow Briton Gordon Reid (ranked 4th in the world) couldn’t quite match their triumph in the Gentlemen’s final.
The Growth of Wheelchair Tennis
The popularity of wheelchair tennis has grown in recent years in line with a general rise in coverage for Paralympic events, so it’s no surprise Wimbledon organisers have decided to incorporate a singles tournament.
Other initiatives have also done a lot for the sport. The Tennis Foundation is Great Britain’s leading tennis charity, and it does a great job of creating opportunities for everybody in the community to pick up a racket and get involved. The creation of a new app, Wheelchair Tennis Community, has also helped move the sport to a global level.
When Can I Watch Wheelchair Tennis at Wimbledon?
The wheelchair tennis competition at Wimbledon begins in the second week, with the Ladies’ Singles Final to be played on the Saturday and the Gentlemen’s Singles Final to be played on the Sunday. The Gentlemen’s Doubles Final will be held on Saturday, with the Ladies’ Doubles Final set for Sunday.
How’s the Wimbledon Weather Shaping Up?
The first few days of play at the Wimbledon Championships have been marred by rain, causing delays in the schedule of play. At the moment the forecast doesn’t look bad enough to force play on the middle Sunday but it’s certainly a possibility. Sunshine and scattered showers have been predicted for the next two days, but Saturday looks like heavy rain.