Anyone for tennis? It’s that time of year again.

Facts: The ‘All English Lawn Tennis Club’ is wholly owned by ‘The All English Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club’ and not many people know that.

It’s the world’s oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament.

The AEC & LTC was founded in July 1868, as the All England Croquet Club but with the waning interest in croquet, lawn tennis was introduced in February 1875.

But here’s the laugh.  The Centre Court and other lawns were maintained by a team of grounds men pulling a roller.  Later these gallant men were replaced by a pony.  Eventually, the roller required serious repair and in June 1877 the club decided to organise a tennis tournament to pay for the repair.

The tournament started on 9 July 1877 with the final being delayed for three days by rain. No changed there then.

The Contestants paid one guinea i.e. £1.1.0 shilling representing £1.05p today. The Spectators fee was one shilling – a bob, i.e. £0.05p today. The winner received twelve guineas in prize money and a silver challenge cup, valued at twenty-five guineas, donated by the sports magazine The Field.

At the end of the tournament the Trustees made a profit of £10 and the roller was restored and used for many years.   In 1986 the roller was retired to a position outside the entrance to the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum. In 2006, when the Museum was relocated from the Centre Court, this Wimbledon landmark was installed here.

The pony? That received a happy retirement for devotional service, minus the lawn boots which were used to protect the grass.

Game, Set & Match. Enjoy another year at Wimbledon.