Originally posted on History in the Headlines.
1. King George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth II, once raised a royal racket at Wimbledon.
While most British rulers catch the action from the comfort of Centre Court’s royal box, the Duke of York, the future King George VI, took to Wimbledon’s lawns as a competitor in the 1926 men’s doubles tournament. After capturing the Royal Air Force’s tennis championship, Sir Louis Greig, the duke’s mentor and advisor, garnered an automatic berth in Wimbledon and selected the future monarch to be his doubles partner. Their first-round opponents, Britons Arthur Gore and Herbert Roper Barrett, displayed little royal deference in smashing Greig and the duke in three easy sets, 6-1, 6-3, 6-2. No doubt King Henry VIII and some other royals would have locked Gore and Barrett up in the Tower of London for such insolence, but King George VI, who remains the only royal to ever compete at Wimbledon, was gracious in defeat.
2. Wimbledon was first staged to pay for croquet equipment.
While croquet plays a distant second fiddle today, it was the All-England Club’s sole sport when the organization was formed in 1868. Lawn tennis did not appear at the All-England Croquet Club until 1875, and the first tennis championships were scheduled in 1877 to raise money to purchase a pony-drawn roller for the croquet lawns. There would be little need for the roller, however, as the club’s grassy…