Bringing Digital to Wimbledon
It was mid-December, 2016 as Alexandra (Alex) Willis read with satisfaction that The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club (AELTC) had won yet another award for its use of social media to reach its fan base. As the organizer and host of "The Championships, Wimbledon," the oldest of tennis's four Grand Slams, the AELTC prided itself on tradition and decorum. Widely regarded as the most prestigious professional tennis tournament in the world and contested each year over two weeks in late June and early July, Wimbledon, in many ways, had changed little over the years. Its showcase venue the 15,000 seat "Centre Court," complete with a "Royal Box" was built in 1926. Slazenger had been the official and only supplier of tennis balls since 1902. A strictly enforced ban on any player clothing other than white dated back to the 1800s. And, whereas other tournaments referred to their Men's and Women's Championships, at Wimbledon, these events were referred to as the Gentlemen's and Ladies' Championships. It was against this "steeped-in-tradition" background that Willis, hired by Wimbledon in 2012 and promoted to Head of Digital and Content in 2015, had to figure out the proper role for digital and social media at Wimbledon. The motivation behind the push into digital was one of communicating and engaging with fans and potential fans around the world, as noted by Richard Lewis, Chief Executive of the AELTC.