Sometimes sports commentators say it. Sometimes it’s in the headlines on the news articles. Sometimes it’s on the actual Wimbledon website. If you’re a tennis fan, you’ve heard the prestigious Wimbledon Championship called SW19.
You may have wondered why the grass-courted Grand Slam location has this nickname, and you wouldn’t be the only one.
The Wimbledon Championship is also called SW19 because of the postcode (ZIP code) where the grounds are located. SW is the geographical location for the All England Lawn Tennis Club, which is where all Wimbledon matches are played.
What’s a postcode or ZIP code?
As countries grow, they have to develop a standardized way to distribute mail accurately throughout the country. In the UK, every address has a full postcode at the end of it. It’s from this number that Wimbledon derives its nickname.
What Does the SW Mean?
The SW has to do with the geographical location of the All England Lawn Tennis Club. If you zoom out on a map of London, you’ll see that it is more or less a circle. As such, it’s often broken up into areas of the compass. London has southwest, southeast, northwest, and northeast areas.
That’s where the SW in the postcode comes from. London is divided into boroughs, and the grounds of Wimbledon are in Merton, which is located in the southwest portion of London.
It simply means that an address is located in the southwest area of London. Postcodes have been around in London since1857, with other areas of the UK gradually adding in their own postcodes.
This really became a necessity in the 1970s when the Royal Mail began relying on machines to sort through letters and packages. This meant every address in the country needed to have a full postcode to ensure proper delivery.
Now For the 19
A large city like London can’t just be broken up into four quadrants and boroughs. Instead, the city is further divided. The southwest region is broken into 20 different postcode regions. The 19th of those 20 regions is known as the Wimbledon district.
Thus, the postcode associated with Wimbledon is SW19, which is why the tournament is sometimes referred to by that postcode. When writing or talking about a tournament, it can get very repetitive to keep saying the full name of the Wimbledon Championships.
Technically, The Postcode Includes More Than That
The full postcode written in full is SW19 5AE. However, the Wimbledon website advises people who are trying to find their way to the tennis courts put 5AG or 5AF into their GPS systems.
This is because the satellite navigation may not pick up the 5AE. However, Wimbledon officials do urge anyone coming to see tennis matches use public transportation due to all of the congestion around the area.
SW19 in Internet Culture
Another reason that SW19 is a great stand-in for the Wimbledon Championship is the ability to use on social media. Local businesses in the area can market themselves on Twitter using #SW19, which is a wonderful way to drum up business.
The tennis tournament brings in a huge number of tourists, and they need help finding places to eat, drink, and be merry. Due to character limits on a lot of social media platforms, #Wimbledon might take up too much space. #SW19 is a much more efficient use of binary space.
SW19 in Wider Culture
The fame and prestige of the Wimbledon Championships have led to the rise of people and brands using the SW19 likeness in their own products and services. There are a variety of industries that take advantage of the moniker.
An obvious one is that things related to tennis would also take on the SW19 name. There is a tennis academy located in the state of Kansas in the United States that bills itself as the SW19 Academy. The courts at SW19 Academy aren’t grass courts like at the famed courts at the Wimbledon Championship, but not many places still maintain grass courts.
There are several books with SW19 in their titles, including a history of Wimbledon called “Beyond SW19: Tournament Tennis in Britain since the 1880s” by Kevin Jefferys, which chronicles the history of players in the tournament.
On a more fanciful note, “They Came from SW19” is the second of a three-part fiction series by Nigel Williams that’s centered around Wimbledon. “They Came from SW19” involves a teen boy trying to contact his dead father, and he instead gets some rather odd messages from SW19.
The Wimbledon Brewery located on Prince Georges Road (with its own SW19 postcode) features a range of brewed beers with a variety of names inspired by the local area, and one of them is called the SW19 that’s marketed as “citrus, zesty, crisp,” which does sound quite refreshing after a day spent sitting in the sun at Center Court.
If you’ve ever wanted to smell like Wimbledon, there’s a perfume for that. To be clear, the marketing around these five perfumes does focus more on the “beautifully peaceful city surrounded by green forests and parks in the Southwest part of London.”
They’ve created five scents labeled with different times of the day. While there isn’t a “2 p.m.” scent, either the noon or 3 p.m. fragrances would be a great match for watching the finals.
The Other Grand Slam Nicknames
It’s not just Wimbledon that’s gotten another name over the years. The US Open is sometimes known as the Pit because the tennis courts are sunk 8 feet into the ground.
The French Open is frequently called Roland-Garros after the legendary French aviator. The Australian Open is sometimes called the Happy Slam due to the festive energy that Melbourne Park is known for.
None of these nicknames are as short and snappy as SW19, nor are they based on postcodes.
There is a lot of prestige and history around Wimbledon. Its location in the southwest part of London is as iconic as the grass on the courts.
Sometimes, this very formal Grand Slam is called SW19, which is the postcode assigned to the All England Lawn Tennis Club. It may seem like a strange name, but it’s really quite simple and elegant when you break it down.