Wimbledon have finally managed to combine their history with the present

The All England Lawn Tennis Club is in its third year of its “In Pursuit of Greatness” campaign, and they have kicked it up a notch in anticipation of the 2018 Championships. In a new digital initiative titled #TakeOnHistory, the AELTC has announced its plans to tell the history of the tournament through an animated film.

Straight away, it’s clear this new campaign will be vastly different to what came before. It seems Wimbledon is in a place where it’s trying to keep up with the swiftly advancing digital age, so it’s no coincidence it started creating bespoke videos two years ago. When watching the first video, which posted on June 14 of 2016, it’s hard to ignore how far they have come since.

Wimbledon is a tournament backed by a history so vast it is in the perfect position to tell its story to new generations that come along. Of the four Grand Slam tournaments, Wimbledon is the oldest, founded in 1877. The grass lawns on which the matches are played and the white attire the players wear seem as old as time. It feels important to consider the historical significance, because, frankly, there is so much of it.

But how do you tell that story in a way that will resonate with an ever-evolving audience?

The inaugural video of the “In Pursuit of Greatness” campaign was a bit of a doozy, including tennis legends in strange hologram-form walking about the grounds of the All England Club.

But after that first attempt, the videos too evolved. Background on Wimbledon staples like the carefully cultivated grass and the oft-overlooked ball boys were featured. Then came lots of interviews and more clips trying to blend the past with the present, to varying effect.

The videos obviously had a purpose and a message, but it’s just hard to reconcile a video of Roger Federer hoisting the Gentleman’s singles trophy with what tennis was like before his generation with what it is now. After a few years of trying to find their way, it appears Wimbledon hit the right note this time.

http://www.wimbledon.com/en_GB/video/media/5795345005001.html

Instead of trying to incorporate real footage of players, the AELTC threw out the script and created a minute-long video solely made with animation. When it starts, you instantly get a feel for what tennis was like in the late 19th century – men and women who look like they’re better dressed for church than sport, hitting a simple white ball with solid wood rackets.

As the clip progresses, it doesn’t just show how tennis progressed over the past century and a half, but how society did as a whole. The equipment and courts changed, but so did everyone’s outfits, from the players to the spectators. In comes the age of broadcasting, with commentators breathing life into the game for those at home. The BBC first broadcast Wimbledon on radio in 1927, and today they still broadcast the Championships to a British audience still engrossed in the spectacle.

The score and colour palette make for a stunning aesthetic, and by the time Serena Williams comes about and bashes a tennis ball, we’re all up to speed.

Keep an eye out for what Wimbledon’s #TakeOnHistory has next in store.

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