Wimbledon has long been intrinsically linked to the royals, with family members including Prince William and Kate regularly making courtside appearances. And yet despite acting as patron of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club for 64 years, the Queen has only attended the south London tournament a handful of times – four to be exact. The reason is quite simply that Her Majesty, 91, is not an avid tennis fan. It's never been her favourite sport and in the past, she has always attended Wimbledon in her role as patron.
The Queen's visit to Wimbledon in 2010 was her first in 33 years
Her last visit came in June 2010 when she watched Andy Murray beat Finland's Jarkko Nieminen. It was a momentous occasion, marking the Queen's first appearance in the royal box for 33 years. She was greeted with a bow from both tennis players before the match. The long-standing tradition of centre court players bowing or curtseying to spectators in the royal box was discontinued in 2003 by the Duke of Kent, president of the club; the only exception is when the Queen or Prince Charles attends.
Andy Murray and Jarkko Nieminen bowed to the Queen ahead of the match
During the visit, the Queen was seated in front of Tim Henman in the royal box. She met tennis champions past and present in the members' enclosure, including Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Caroline Wozniacki and Martina Navratilova. The monarch also chatted to club officials, ball boys and girls and waved to wellwishers after leaving Centre Court.
Her Majesty waves to well-wishers outside Centre Court
The Queen's previous visits to Wimbledon took place in July 1957, July 1977 and July 1962. As patron of over 600 organisations, she chose to step down from her role as patron of various organisations last year, and share her workload with her family. This included the AELTC Wimbledon patronage, which she passed on to the Duchess of Cambridge, effective in January 2017. Kate, an avid tennis fan, was no doubt thrilled to be given the honour.
The Queen visiting Wimbledon in 1977
At the time, Philip Brook, chairman of The AELTC and The Championships, released a statement saying: "We would like to thank Her Majesty for her long and unwavering service to The Club and The Championships during her time as our patron. It was a great honour to welcome Her Majesty to Wimbledon in 2010 and we remain immensely proud of her role in the history of The Club and The Championships. We would like to welcome HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, who will take up the Queen's former duties as our patron, and also recognise with appreciation the ongoing contribution of HRH The Duke of Kent, who will continue his long-standing role as our president."