The All England Lawn Tennis Club has decided to change Wimbledon’s honor roll for the Championships next month, removing titles before the names of its female champions in line with the tournament’s presentation of its male winners.
The change to the honors boards around the club is part of a push to further modernize the tournament.
Since the tournament began in 1877, women’s and men’s names on the honor roll have been presented differently. The men’s champions are recorded as just their first initial and their surname, meaning last year’s champion, Novak Djokovic, has always been presented as “N Djokovic”.
The women’s champions, meanwhile, have always been referred to with their title included. Venus Williams, the five-time winner, had her name presented as Miss V. Williams each time. Last year Ashleigh Barty was identified on the honors board as Miss A. Barty.
Wimbledon’s decision to replace their honors boards, first reported in the Times, will notably see a change in how married women’s champions are recorded, with married women no longer being identified by both the initials and surnames of their husbands, as things have also stood since the tournament’s inception.
After marrying John Lloyd, Chris Evert was identified on the women’s singles honors boards for her 1981 triumph as Mrs. JM Lloyd. Both before her marriage to Lloyd and after their divorce in 1987, her name was engraved as Miss CM Evert while the original 1981 version has not been altered. She will now be referred to as CM Evert for all three of her victories.
Even Billie Jean King, the six-time women’s singles champion and legendary pioneer for equality, was not spared. She has always been listed on Wimbledon’s honors boards as Mrs. LW King despite her divorce to Larry King in 1987. Likewise, Evonne Goolagong Cawley has been listed on the All England Club’s honor boards as Mrs. R. Cawley for her 1980 championship win.
Wimbledon’s honor board has been discussed and criticized frequently in the past, seen by some as a reflection of Wimbledon being outdated and out of touch. In 2018, the New York Times drew attention to the practice of umpires identifying male and female players differently.
A year later, in 2019, Wimbledon decided to end the policy of umpires identifying women’s players with their titles while they only called out male players’ surnames. Previously, Serena Williams would be referred to as “Mrs Williams”, while Roger Federer was simply referred to as “Federer”.
Last year, Barty’s triumph at Wimbledon generated considerable attention among Australian fans and media after footage of her newly-engraved name being unveiled on Wimbledon’s honors boards was broadcast after the ceremony, with the Australian sports opinion publication the Roar publishing an op-ed criticizing the practice.