Tim Henman at The West Hants Club for 50th Anniversary Celebrations
Celebrations were held at The West Hants Club to mark 50 years since the first tournament of the Open Era which took place at the club 22nd to 27th April 1968. West Hants Tennis Club, as it was then known, hosted The British Hard Court Championships, the first of 12 Open tournaments for the year sanctioned by the then International Lawn Tennis Federation (ILTF) having been promoted by the Club and the LTA. Fifty years ago, the first Open Era titles were won by Australia’s Ken Rosewall and Britain’s Virginia Wade, who took home the first ever prize money breakdowns recorded on a draw sheet – the men’s title with £1000 and the women’s £300.
Tim Henman took part in the celebrations playing exhibition matches featuring John Feaver, Miles Maclagan and Rob Booth. Performance players from The West Hants Club also had the opportunity of being on court with Tim Henman and Miles Maclagan with some close matches being played. Commentary throughout from Rob Curling added to the excitement with presentations being made to players from the first Open Era tournament – Sue Mappin, Frances McLennan, John Paish and Mark Cox. They were joined by West Hants Chief Executive Peter Elviss and Chairman Edwin Bessant, Chairman of the All England Tennis Club, Philip Brook, LTA Deputy President David Rawlinson and ITF COO Kelly Fairweather, to commemorate the role the LTA and West Hants Club together played in paving the way for professional tennis around the world.
This year also marks a number of other notable landmarks in the history of tennis, including the 130th anniversary of the founding of the LTA and the 40th anniversary of the first-ever BBC broadcast of the Eastbourne International which saw Martina Navratilova beat Chris Evert two weeks ahead of her maiden Wimbledon title.