The Wimbledon Museum’s enhancements were made to bring the collection into the 21st century. The collection remains the same, but the presentation and layout are much more modern.
“It’s the same essential collection, but it’s entirely different. The other one was an old fashion museum. This one is exceedingly interactive,” stated Ashley Jones, Commercial Manager at the museum. “We have audio guides in 10 languages. We have original films and we just added a new 3-D cinema.”The massive collection commemorating the history of the game is filled with exciting artifacts, perhaps the biggest draw for potential visitors are the trophies. The trophies culminate the success for the long-line of champions that have won on the hallowed grounds and the heartbreaking failure for the players who’ve lost.
“When people come they want to see the trophies, because we have the original trophies, the ones handed out on center court,” stated Jones. “They also want to see center court itself; they want to see where all the action takes place.”
Yet, when people actually arrive and get a chance to walk freely throughout the museum, their attention quickly shifts to the interactive John McEnroe exhibit.
“When they are actually here, what everybody likes most is the ghost of John McEnroe. The exhibit actually takes place in the original men’s changing room that was used until 2000,” Jones said. “The exhibit is six minutes long, it’s quite amazing.”
Jones has had the privilege of scouring the museum on a daily basis, taking in all the history and artifacts of the game. The one thing that stands out to him the most is an original Lacoste jacket located in the 1920 showcase.
“It was worn by the great French player Rene Lacoste,” Jones said. “He was the man that invented the clothing brand.”
Oddly enough, the museum had a hard time actually authenticating the jacket. The authentication came only a few years ago when one of Lacoste’s grandchildren visited the museum and saw the jacket.
“We weren’t too sure if it was his or not, until a couple of years ago when I did a tour during the tournament for his grandson,” Jones stated. “He instantly recognized his grandfather’s jacket. So now we actually do know it is his and I think it is the coolest thing in the whole museum. Honestly, if it ever went missing they would look in my house first.”
Throughout the years tennis accumulated many traditions and with Wimbledon being a pillar of the game it has several of its own. One of which is that you have to wear white and Jones knew the answer as to why.
“People often wonder why you wear white. It actually started back in Victorian time, when tennis was invented; women would wear around 11 pounds of clothing. It was very very heavy clothing and if you were running about on a warm summer’s day you’re going to sweat. If you wear a dark fabric you will get awful sweat stains and you wouldn’t look very elegant when you came off court,” Jones explained. “So in fact the reason that you wear white is that white doesn’t show the sweat stains so badly, and they still look quite attractive when they came off court.”
This tradition is still followed in today’s game and players are actually a huge supporter of the wardrobe.
“They players actually love it. Some of the players felt guilty during the Olympics last year because they had to wear a color other than white and it is so much against our rules,” Jones stated.
Wimbledon and its museum is a must-see when traveling to England. The storied grounds are a phenomenal day-trip and travelers are guaranteed to feel richer from the experience.