One of the biggest events on every year’s sports calendar is about to get underway in London as the best tennis players in the world head to Wimbledon. The tournament is rich in history and significance, and you can get a unique piece of the action this year with an offering from DraftKings Primetime NFT Series.
There will be two types of NFTs as part of the 2022 Grass Court Passes. The Elite Strawberries and Green DFS Pass collectible will allow access to exclusive DFS contests, and the Elite: Centre Court Sportsbook Pass collectible provides free bets and odds boosts. You can find all the details about the collectibles, contests and snapshot times explained on the DraftKings Marketplace.
As it’s officially known, “The Championships, Wimbledon” is the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world. Its long and storied history began 145 years ago in 1877, the same year that Rutherford B. Hayes was elected President of the United States (which only had 38 states at the time), Alexander Graham Bell installed the world’s first commercial telephone service and Thomas Edison invented the phonograph. That year the tournament was held on one of the croquet lawns of the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club. By 1882, no one really played croquet at the venue anymore and the term was dropped from the name entirely. It was later returned for nostalgic reasons, though, and the name was changed to the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, which remains the official name of the private members-only club that hosts the event each year.
The game of “lawn tennis,” as it was then called, had only been invented a couple of years earlier by Major Walter Clopton Wingfield, and the first Championship tournament began on July 9, 1887. Gentlemen’s Singles was the only event that was a part of that first tournament with 22 men paying one guinea each to enter the tournament. After multiple weather delays, Spencer Gore became the first Wimbledon champion 10 days later after defeating William Marshall in straight sets 6-1, 6-2 and 6-4. The final match took only about 48 minutes and was watched by only around 200 people. In contrast, the longest game in Wimbledon history took 11 hours and five minutes in 2010, and the 2022 event is expected to draw 42,000 people per day over the two weeks of competition.
The tournament continued to evolve as tennis grew in popularity. In 1884, a Ladies’ Singles championship was added to the program and the national men’s doubles tournament was moved to Wimbledon from Oxford University Lawn Tennis Club. In 1913, Ladies’ doubles and mixed doubles were added as well. The format was very different than it is today, though, until 1922, the reigning champion received a free pass into the final while the rest of the field would battle it out to see who the challenger would be. That format resulted in many repeat winners in the early years since the reigning champion received such an advantage.
Since the beginning, the event has traditionally been held in late June and early July during a two-week period often referred to as “Wimbledon Fortnight.” The tournament was canceled from 1915-1918 due to World War One and 1940-1945 due to World War II. In fact, during WWII, a bomb hit a corner of the competitors’ stand of the Centre Court in 1940, destroying 1,200 seats that were not replaced until the 1949 edition. The tournament was also canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both the Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ draws include 128 players each year. There are 104 direct entries into the men’s and 108 into the ladies’ competitions with eight wild card entrants as well. Wild cards are awarded to players with a history of success at the event or to players who will help draw positive attention to the tournament. One of those wild card entrants in 2022 is 40-year-old megastar Serena Williams, who has not played in a professional event in a full calendar year since sustaining an injury slipping on the grass at Wimbledon last year. Only one wild card has ever won at Wimbledon, Goran Ivanišević in 2001.
The tournament was first televised in 1937, and in 1993, the grounds and courts were updated and overhauled to improve the event both in person and on TV. A new No. 1 Court was built, seats were added and a new broadcast center was installed. Wimbledon hosted the Olympics as part of the 2012 games in London which resulted in another upgrade, and new retractable roofs have been added to Centre Court and No. 1 Court over the past few years.
The 2022 event will be the 100th anniversary of the event happening at this location and the Final match taking place on this version of the famous Centre Court, which is being immortalized in multiple souvenirs in this year’s tournament. The complex moved from Worple Road to its current spot off Church Road to the north of Wimbledon Center in 1922. Wimbledon is actually the name of a district and town of South West London in the Borough of Merton, but the area is now defined by this complex of tennis courts and specifically this tournament.
In its illustrious history, the best tennis players have played and dominated at Wimbledon. All records are divided into the Pre-Open and the Open Era. Until the start of the Open Era in 1968, the event was only open to amateur players with professionals not allowed to compete. During the Open Era, Roger Federer has the record for most Championships with eight, including five in a row between 2003 and 2007. Martina Navratilova has been the most successful on the Ladies’ side, winning nine Singles Championships, seven Ladies’ Doubles Championships and four Mixed Doubles Championships. Winners are awarded cup-style trophies, and the Gentlemen’s Singles champion’s trophy is inscribed with the iconic “All England Lawn Tennis Club Single Handed Championship of the World.” The Ladies’ Singles winner is awarded the famous Venus Rosewater Dish. Both of the actual trophies stay on display at the club, but winners are given replicas to add to their collections. Prize money has only been awarded since professionals were allowed to play, starting in 1968, and this year the total purse is a record £40,350,000 (just under $50 million). Winners or the Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Singles competitions will each earn £2,000,000 (about $2.5 million).
The tournament itself has many idiosyncrasies that harken back to its long and storied history. It uses ball boys and girls (BBG) to recover shots and cycle tennis balls back into play. There are about 250 BBG needed for the two-week event, and they work in teams of six. BBG go through a rigorous nomination, selection and training process and can return for up to five tournaments beginning around when they are 14 years old. Another unique feature of Wimbledon is the dress code. Players are required to wear all white or mostly white outfits with an outfitter’s brand logo the only identifiable commercial coloring allowed.
Another trademark of the event is the strawberries and cream served to spectators. Fresh strawberries are simply bathed in fresh whipping cream. Legend has it that King George V started the tradition of eating strawberries with cream at the event since that was the seasonal summer fruit available at the time of the event. Estimates are that over two million individual berries will be served with more than 1,800 gallons of cream and more than 26,000 bottles of Champagne. The royal family is very tied to the event, and not just in the concession stands. There is a Royal Box at Centre Court which is often occupied by royalty or other dignitaries. Players previously bowed or curtsied to the Royal Box whenever entering or leaving Centre Court, but since 2003 are only required to do so if the Queen or Prince of Wales is in attendance.
While you may not be able to be in the royal box or down strawberries and cream at the All England Club this year, you can still get in on the action for the 2022 tournament in a unique way with the DraftKings Primetime NFT Series. Make sure to check out all the details and get your NFTs at the DraftKings Marketplace.
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