The All England Open is the world’s oldest badminton tournament.
Since being introduced in 1899 by the Badminton Association of England, the tournament has gone on to be held in high esteem by players and fans.
These days, with so much prestige attached to it, the All England title is arguably the most coveted on the BWF World Tour.
But how did it get its unusual name?
While an editor at the World Badminton magazine, former International Badminton Federation Honorary Secretary Herbert Scheele wrote in March 1975: “Why is it ‘All-England Championships’, and not perhaps more descriptively the Open Championships of England or the English International Championships?
“Indeed, the tournament is often referred to in other countries as the unofficial World Championships, though no one in England has ever, called them that.
“The title is, of course, historical, and even though the name is thoroughly out of date, tradition dies hard, particularly in England.”
The first edition of the competition in 1899 – the second badminton tournament ever held – was initially named “The Badminton Association Tournament”. It featured only doubles matches.
Scheele added: “The name of the meeting was changed in 1902 to ‘All-England Championships’, which was not unreasonable, for the tournament was considered as the means of designating the champions of the season.
“The use of the name was also intended to advertise that the championships were for players from all over the country and not only those within easy distance of London.
“Badminton had spread slowly towards the north, and had even been taken up in Ireland. The Scots were a little slower in appreciating its attractions.”
Based on Scheele’s musings, it seems clear the initial editions were to crown the best players in all of England, hence the name.
The tournament only went fully international in 1938, when Denmark brought along a big contingent and returned home with the men’s singles (Tage Madsen) and women’s doubles (Ruth Dalsgaard/Tonny Ahm) titles.
DID YOU KNOW?
The word “All-England” is not unique to badminton. It had been used years earlier in at least two other sports, including cricket.