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Age-old traditions means Wimbledon ‘always changing, always the same’

Since the first tournament in 1877, fans have queued, sheltered from the rain and sought autographs.

Fans queue outside the ground for the start of the Wimbledon tennis Championships. (Toby Melville/PA)
Fans queue outside the ground for the start of the Wimbledon tennis Championships. (Toby Melville/PA)

Queuing, rain and autograph hunters have been part of the fabric of Wimbledon since the very start.

Newly unearthed images show that despite being one of the biggest sporting events in the world, the essence of Wimbledon never really changes.

Research by Ancestry.co.uk found an image of Kiwi world number one Anthony Frederick Wilding patiently signed autographs for fans following his victory in 1914.

The four time winner was tragically killed in action during the First World War.

Long before the era of retractable roofs, spectators came up with a novel way to deal with the perennial issue of rain – using newspapers as umbrellas in 1936.

The Second World War saw the club turned into a First Aid headquarters while the tournament was suspended, but nurses still took the time to enjoy a game of tennis on the famous grass courts.

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Sir Cliff Richard leads the community singing on Centre Court at Wimbledon in 1996 (Adam Butler/PA)

The All England Lawn Tennis Club claims queuing is as much a part of Wimbledon as the tennis itself – and visitors in 1953 certainly did not seem to mind the wait.

Rows of punters are pictured enjoying a cup of coffee in the sunshine before the gates open.

The first ever winner in 1877, Spencer Gore, was paid just £12 – £1,387.33 in today’s money, while this year’s winners will take home 1,700 times that amount with a purse of £2.35 million.

The club’s top brass say the ethos is one of “always changing, always the same”.

“The brand essence will always be that tennis and English garden, the beauty of the site, playing on grass, playing in white,” said commercial director Mick Desmond.

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