More than 40,000 people have bid to own digital artworks, known as NFTs, which have been released to mark 100 years of Wimbledon’s Centre Court.
The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) is offering the Centenary Collection – ten collages of iconic Wimbledon moments captured through the years – at £500 each via a public ballot.
Each digital artwork depicts a different decade of Championship moments since 1922, when the tournament relocated from SW19’s Worple Road to Church Road, where the courts are now located.
They include photographs of America’s Serena and Venus Williams in their prime and 17-year-old Maria Sharapova celebrating her win in 2004, while an earlier image shows Fred Perry leaning on the net after victory in 1934.
This comes one year after the AELTC created a series of blockchain-based collectibles representing Sir Andy Murray’s victory in 2013 which fetched $177,777 at auction – or around £148,000.
Alex Willis, from the AELTC, said the aim this year was to create something for fans to “treasure” rather than view as an investment.
She told the PA news agency: “Our first tiptoe into this space last year was we partnered with Andy and his team to create a collection to celebrate some of his most iconic Wimbledon moments.
“What we’ve tried to do this year is a little bit different – rather than it just being a sale where you can turn up and buy something, it’s a ballot, and that feels very Wimbledon.”
Max Proctor, partnerships manager at Wimbledon, said using NFTs is a way for the traditional tournament to appeal to a modern fanbase and people would be able to display them in their homes.
He said that, in partnership with fine artists from Glorious Digital, a New Zealand-based online marketplace, Wimbledon has created 1,000 units which if they had been sold at auction would fetch “way more” money than the ballot.
He added that 40,000 people have already signed up for the ballot, which closes on Sunday, and he expects most bidders to be in the age range of 25 to 40.
An NFT is a crypto asset, such as an image, video or text, which people can be certified to own via blockchain.
While anyone can view or download it, only the buyer can claim ownership.