Wimbledon Tennis Rules

Written by marissa poulson
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Wimbledon Tennis Rules
Wimbledon is the only major tennis tournament played on grass. (tennis image by Christopher Walker from Fotolia.com)

Since 1877, Wimbledon has remained the premier professional tennis tournament. Held at the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon is the only major tennis tournament played on grass. Like any tennis tournament, Wimbledon adheres to the official rules agreed upon by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and the Grand Slam Committee, but also enforces some of its own rules that are unique to the tournament.

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Dress Code

Wimbledon maintains a strict dress code requiring players to dress almost entirely in white (except for logos, trim and certain accessories like wrist and headbands). While there is some leniency with style, like Rafael Nadal’s trademark pirate trousers and cut-off shirt that he wore when he won his first Wimbledon in 2008, traditional attire for male players at Wimbledon includes white-coloured shirts and white trouser shorts. On the women’s side, players have always utilised creativity in configuring their all-white wardrobe, from skirts and shorts to professionally designed tennis dresses with unique details.

Day of Rest

The middle Sunday of Wimbledon has been designated as a day of rest. While all four majors run over a period of almost two weeks, Wimbledon is unique in that all players are given a chance to recuperate on the middle Sunday except in extreme circumstances, most notably the weather, which can delay early round play and force certain matches to be played on the middle Sunday. Players resume play on Monday, which has often been referred to as “Magic Monday,” featuring the players in their fourth round matches.

Fifth Set Tiebreaker

Wimbledon adheres to a “no fifth set tiebreaker” rule that allows players to continue to stay on serve instead of going to a tiebreaker at 6-6 in the fifth set. This rule is not solely unique to Wimbledon and is utilised by all of the major tournaments except for the U.S. Open. While the rule is generally not a problem, after the epic first round match during Wimbledon 2010 between American John Isner and French player Nicholas Mahut finally ended at a score of 70-68 in the fifth set, becoming the longest tennis match in history, some critics are calling for a change to the rules that would allow a tiebreaker in the fifth set at Wimbledon.

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