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Have Any Royals Ever Competed at Wimbledon?

Yes, royals have graced Wimbledon's hallowed courts. Notably, Princess Katharina of Greece showcased her tennis prowess in the 1920s. Their participation adds a regal flair to the sport's rich history, blending aristocracy with athletic excellence. Imagine the thrill of royalty serving an ace! What other royal encounters might have occurred on these iconic lawns? Join us as we unveil these aristocratic tales.

Twenty-two men showed up for the first Wimbledon tennis championship, held in June 1877. A paltry crowd of 200 people were on hand to see the first matches, played with wooden rackets and hand-sewn flannel balls. Women were allowed to compete in 1884, but only one member of the British royal family has ever taken part as a competitor.

When Sir Louis Greig qualified for Wimbledon in 1926 by winning the Royal Air Force’s annual tournament, he selected Prince Albert, Duke of York (the future King George VI), to be his doubles partner. It was a fleeting royal showing, though, as opponents Arthur Gore and Herbert Roper Barrett dispatched Greig and the future king in three straight sets.

Wimbledon etiquette (or lack of):

  • Today’s Wimbledon has grown into a must-watch tennis event, played on 19 grass courts. Wimbledon has a Royal Box, but Queen Elizabeth II, King George VI’s daughter, has only attended twice.

  • Men wore long pants until 1933, when Henry "Bunny" Austin became the first man to play on Centre Court in shorts. And in 1963, Wimbledon began requiring competitors to wear “predominantly white” clothing when playing.

  • Four fans have appeared at Wimbledon wearing nothing at all, most recently in 2004 when a naked streaker did a cartwheel on court during a quarterfinal match between Maria Sharapova and Elena Dementieva.

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    • In 1926, the Duke of York (the future King George VI) competed in doubles at Wimbledon but lost in the first round.
      In 1926, the Duke of York (the future King George VI) competed in doubles at Wimbledon but lost in the first round.