With qualifying for The Championships 2013 just around the corner, Wimbledon.com explains why it's an event unlike any other...
The home of Wimbledon qualifying is famous for the Priory Clinic, a huge housing estate often used to portray a terrifying Orwellian future and residents including Simon Le Bon and Nick Clegg. But every year, in the week before Wimbledon starts, a fascinating bunch of British home prospects, ageing pros and ambitious young guns all show up for the right to compete in the main draw at Wimbledon. And whilst just a good stone’s throw from the genteel All England Club this is grass court tennis with no holds barred.
To crawl through the qualifying event and haul yourself in to the potential glamour of the world’s greatest tennis tournament, players must play three rounds on the tightly packed grass courts. The lucky 16 men and 12 women who scrape through (along with the occasional lucky loser who takes the place of an injured player) will be in the draw for the first round at the end of June.
And some famous names have passed through these courts. Perhaps the most famous journey from qualifying to SW19 was seen in 1977 when a brash young New Yorker battled his way out of the qualifying and in to the main draw, aged just 18. The young John McEnroe just kept on going, eventually reaching the semi-final where he was only beaten by an inspired Jimmy Connors. Lukas Rosol had repeatedly lost out at the qualifying stage before making it through in 2012. After a first-round win the Czech player found himself tasting centre court for the first time with a match-up against Rafael Nadal. In a five-set thriller the unheralded Rosol defeated the multiple champion and created one of the greatest upsets in modern tennis. He lost in the next round.
Other famous former qualifiers include Xavier Malisse, Michaella Krajicek, Chris Eaton, Mirjana Lucic, and last year's man of the moment, Brian Baker.
The journey doesn't always end in glory, which is why, once achieved, players are always happy to get out of it. Good luck to all competing.