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29.06.24

The Season: Wimbledon 2024

“The Championships, Wimbledon”, “The All England Lawn Tennis Championships” or just good old “Wimbledon” – whatever you call it, the pinnacle of British summertime spectatorship is back from 1 July, and is the perfect time to serve some serious style.

The History

Things don’t come much more British than strawberries and cream (perhaps a Pimm’s, if you’re lucky) atop a certain south-west London hillock. Wimbledon is thought to be the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world, first taking place in 1877 with 22 men competing. Open to all amateurs, each paid an entry fee, and one Spencer Gore won the first champion title, with British player Maud Watson becoming the first female winner in 1884 when women were allowed on the court.

However, it wasn’t until 1922 that the Wimbledon tournament moved to the legendary Church Road grounds we know today, with the initial matches taking place on a lawn on nearby Worple Road that was originally intended for croquet. Unlike the polished, £116,000 debenture seats that make up a fifth of Centre Court in 2024, these grounds had three less-than-comfortable planks to seat 30 people, with the first final attracting a grand total of 200 onlookers. Though it might be a far cry from the royal-ready venue we see now, it wasn’t too shabby for a certain Duke of York, later King George VI, who actually competed in 1926. He lost in the first round and resumed the day job.

In 1967 came the Open Era, when professionals were allowed to compete alongside amateurs across the four Grand Slams. Inviting a new wave of high-class tennis, Wimbledon champions could, from then on, win – wait for it – money! But big bucks this was not. The first male winner, Australian Rod Laver, took home £2,000 while the female title went to American Billie Jean King who got just £750.

Since then, the lawns of SW19 have played host to the most iconic names in tennis. The ’70s saw colour television capture a decade of drama between Björn Borg, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova and Virginia Wade, before the ’80s heralded John McEnroe’s infamous duels with Borg, Steffi Graf’s domination in the Ladies’ Singles, and teenage Boris Becker’s debut. The noughties were owned by queens of the court Venus and Serena Williams (winning eight of 10 finals), whose advocacy finally resulted in equal prize money for women in 2007. The Wimbledon trophy has since been out of the hands of the “Big Four” – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, the lattermost of which being the first British winner since Fred Perry in 1936.

The Rules

Steeped in tradition, the rules of Wimbledon demand observing. Following the usual rules of professional tennis, matches at the tournament are generally played as best-of-five sets for men and best- of-three sets for women. With a schedule that lasts two weeks, the many courts simultaneously host the likes of Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Singles and Doubles, Mixed Doubles and various junior events. Games progress through rounds – first, second, third and fourth, before the heavy-hitters find themselves in the quarter-finals, semi-finals and, ultimately, the final on Centre Court.

The etiquette rules are just as strict as the game itself. Decorum is a nonnegotiable, and players are expected to conduct themselves on court as if under the scolding eyes of a headmaster – no outbursts, racket smashing, unsportsmanly attitude or coaching here, please. Competitors must also wear almost entirely white (don’t even think about trying off-white or cream), and any colourful striped trims mustn’t be any wider than 1cm.

Deep Blue & White Formal Double Cuff Panama Medium Stripe Shirt

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Gold Tonal Textured Woven Silk Tie

The Dress Code

A sport long associated with the well-to-do gentleman, the early days saw competitors don almost full suiting. But things started to loosen up in 1930, when Britain’s Brame Hillyard became the first male player at Wimbledon to wear shorts.

Modern tennis’s commitment to functional minimalism is what some might equate to a glorified PE kit. Those towelling headbands and Crimplene shorts certainly haven’t made it into any sartorial good books. We should, however, acknowledge the rare exceptions. The perennially stylish Arthur Ashe, for example; or Borg (wearing Fila), McEnroe (in Sergio Tacchini) and Andre Agassi (that ’80s pizazz), whose on-court apparel helped lay the foundations for mainstream athleisure.

But there is one name that remains synonymous with Wimbledon and fashion to this day: Fred Perry, the dapper English tyro whose eight grand slams included three Wimbledon titles (1934, 1935, 1936). Long flannel trousers, sweater draped coquettishly about the shoulders and wooden racket polished to a high shine.

The good news is that if you happen to not be a player but merely a humble spectator, the ball is in your court; formal, smart-casual or dressed down, the choice is yours. However, should you find yourself in Centre Court’s Royal Box, you’ll need to dress for such rarefied company. We suggest Thomas Pink’s Royal Twill Shirt. It uses a finer yarn count to create a more refined look, while the touch of Egyptian cotton to the Italian cloth provides a gentle lustre. Pair it with our Tonal Textured Woven Silk Tie – artisanally handcrafted to achieve a beautifully textured finish, it transforms ensembles into something truly sophisticated.

For most spectators though, the principal Wimbledon vibe is smart- casual. Something like the Thomas Pink Panama Shirt, with its Tailored Fit and double-cuff design. Emboldened with classic blue and white stripes, it brings a laid-back air and suitably summery feel that’s made for Wimbledon’s balmy afternoons. That’s game, set and match in the style stakes. Now, where’s that Pimm’s?