On my way to and from work each day I am often stopped by tourists and asked to take their photo outside the Wimbledon gates. It seems there is always someone making a pilgrimage to the Championships. This week things got better for tennis pilgrams because Centre Court is now back on the itinerary of the Wimbledon tour, having been off limit to visitors during the roof’s construction.
The tour takes in a walk around the grounds, the redeveloped Centre Court and the Wimbledon museum. The museum’s curator Honor Godfrey recently gave the Wimbledon blog a personal tour.
The museum, which opened in 1977, is equally dedicated to the sport’s history and its present: the trophy won by Spencer Gore, the tournament’s inaugural winner, shares floor space with the outfits worn by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the 2008 final. A reconstruction of the old dressing room is around the corner from interactive games, including one crowning Pat Cash as the winner with the tightest shorts in history. Even a hologram of Johnny Mac gives you a walk through Wimbledon’s recent history.
“It’s a fantastic job. It’s never the same,” says curator Honor Godfrey. “When the tournament is on I spend a lot of time watching TV, seeing what we may want to collect – not just things from players, but people in the crowd and in the queue.
“I’d like to think that in 50 years time people will be able to see what we have and have a real understanding of what Wimbledon was like that year.”
But even with Honor’s eagle eye for an historical artefact, some treasures slip through the club’s fingers. In 2007, Frenchwoman Tatiana Golovin was at the centre of a debate over whether her red underwear was in breach of Wimbledon’s ‘almost entirely white’ dress code. The Club ruled in Golovin’s favour and the underwear stayed. Despite Honor’s best efforts, the most famous pair of pants at Wimbledon since Gussie Moran’s lace-trimmed knickers in 1949 left with Golovin when her tournament finished. There is a pair of frilly knickers on display in the Wimbledon museum, but they aren’t red.
Click here for the Wimbledon museum website.