What is the 'All England Lawn Tennis Club' (AELTC)?
By Ed C
Updated 8th November 2021
The 'All England Lawn Tennis Club', or 'AELTC', is a private members tennis club. The Club Grounds are the venue for the annual Wimbledon Tennis Championships.
The founding of Wimbledon
Established 153 years ago in 1868, the AELTC is responsible for the upkeep and operation of the Wimbledon Grounds.
The Club was founded by John Henry Walsh and Henry Jones, editors of a local magazine called The Field. The original Club was established on a site at Worple Road, Wimbledon, two miles south of today's Championships venue.
The Club was initially created as a croquet club during the height of a UK croquet craze in the 1800s. Tennis was only introduced in 1875 when the Club set aside one of its grass fields for its members to play tennis on.
Two years later, in July 1877, the Club held its first Gentleman’s Tennis Championships, which were won by British player Spencer Gore.
1877 was also, notably, the year that the Club changed its name to the 'All England Lawn Tennis Club'. In 1899 the name was again changed to the 'All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club', to reflect its' heritage.
The most prestigious tournament in the world
The Championships were quickly established as the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world. Ladies’ Singles and Men’s Doubles events were added in the 1884 edition of The Championships. Ladies and Mixed Doubles were later added in 1913.
Since then, the Wimbledon Tennis Championships have been held 134 times, having only been cancelled twice in its history; once in 1945 due to the Second World War, and, more recently, in 2020 due to the pandemic.
The AELTC started to grow in the early 1900s and moved to Church Road in Wimbledon Park in 1922.
At Church Road, the Club started to improve its facilities and opened its second court, Court One, in 1924. The addition of Court One allowed more matches to be played on the site and enabled more spectators to see the tennis.
In recent years, the AELTC grounds have expanded to include 18 championship grass courts, which are open to members from May to September each year.
In 1993 the AELTC announced that the facility would be undergoing a long-term regeneration project. That project would include the installation of the famous retractable roof over Centre Court in 2009, along with the addition of a new 4,000-seat stadium on Court Two the same year.
The AELTC is a private club that hosts 350 full members and 100 elected temporary members. The club also hosts a number of honorary members, including all former tournament winners who receive lifetime memberships upon winning the Championships.
Full members must be invited to join the Club by existing members who have known them for at least three years.
The Club also issues Debentures to tennis fans every five years, to help raise funds for the development and upkeep of the Grounds.
Wimbledon Debentures guarantee their owners a pair of tickets for each day of the Championships for five years. Debenture ticket seats offer unparalleled views of the action on Centre Court and Court No.1. Debenture tickets also give access to the exclusive Debenture lounges and restaurants within the Grounds.
The Future of the AELTC
In 2018 the AELTC agreed a £65m compensation deal with their neighbours, The Wimbledon Park Golf Club, to take over their land at the end of 2021.
The AELTC’s aim is to continue to grow and keep pace with its Grand Slam rivals; the Australian Open, French Open and U.S. Open. In 2019, the Club installed a retractable roof over No.1 Court, further asserting the Championships' position as the most prestigious tournament on the tennis calendar.
In the coming years, the AELTC hopes to expand its facilities to host qualifying events for the Championships on its' newly acquired grounds. Spectator capacity will also increase to allow more tennis fans to watch The Championships.
Secure your place at the 2024 Championships now
We currently have Wimbledon Debenture Tickets available to buy for Centre Court and No.1 Court, for every day of the 2024 Championships.
To get the ball rolling:
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