Wimbledon first televised

21 June 1937

Image: an off-screen photograph showing the 1937 broadcast as seen by viewers.

The Wimbledon Tennis Championships was televised for the first time in June 1937. For the young television service this was an important event, providing coverage of a popular sport at a time when interest in it was high following Fred Perry's victories in the 3 previous championships. In the event the Men's final was won by the American Don Budge, but the technical achievement of bringing the live outside broadcast into viewer's homes was great.

The broadcasts from the Centre Court featured commentary by Freddie Grisewood and John Snagge. The Radio Times explained the challenges of the broadcasts, highlighting their pioneering nature. Microphones had to be positioned so as to pick up the sound, yet be protected from the elements and out of vision. It also emphasised that events - captured on Emitron cameras - were seen as they happened.

The BBC's coverage of Wimbledon extends back to 1927, when the first radio commentary was broadcast. The popularity of sport has ensured it has always remained at the forefront of innovations in broadcasting, with Wimbledon used to entice viewers and listeners. The championships were one of the first programmes broadcast in colour in 1967. Today Wimbledon is broadcast across all platforms on the BBC.

Further reading

  • Wimbledon and the BBC: 1927-20172017 saw the BBC celebrate 90 years since the first radio broadcast from Wimbledon, 80 years since the first TV broadcast, and 50 years since the first colour TV broadcast of The Championships.
  • Oh, I Say! Wimbledon and the BBC Charles Runcie looks back at the enduring relationship between the BBC and Wimbledon and some of the events and characters that helped shape it.