As the days get longer and the shop shelves fill with strawberries our thoughts turn to the world’s most prestigious tennis tournament – The Wimbledon Championships!
In less than six weeks the world’s sporting press will descend upon West London and the UK will resume its seasonal love affair with tennis.
Wimbledon is one of four tennis Grand Slam events held each year and the only Grand Slam to be played on grass. Taking place at the All England Club in London, it runs for two weeks and attracts over 500,000 visitors with a global reach estimated at over a billion.
The first Wimbledon championships took place in 1877, making it the oldest tennis tournament in the world. It is hardly surprising therefore, that there are a number of traditions and historical facts you may not know about Wimbledon.
So, here are Corinthian’s top ten, lesser-known facts about Wimbledon:
#10 Over 8,600 punnets of strawberries are consumed daily, with no less than 10 strawberries in each portion. All strawberries are picked the day before and arrive at the grounds around 5.30am, where they’re inspected and hulled.
#9 The courts are sown with 100% perennial rye grass which is kept at a height of exactly 8 mm during the event.
#8 Since Wimbledon weather records started in 1922, there have only been seven championships recorded without rain interruptions. Thankfully Centre Court now has a retractable rain-proof roof, so play can continue, but play still has to wait for around 30 minutes to resume after the roof has been closed.
#7 Wimbledon has been held without fail since 1877, except between 1915 and 1918 and 1940 and 1945 – during the First and Second World Wars. The Wimbledon structure was actually used as a bomb shelter during that time period, although five bombs hit the Centre Court at the All England Club, destroying 1,200 seats, during World War II.
#6 The longest match ever played at Wimbledon lasted 11 hours and five minutes and was played over the course of three days. John Isner of the United States defeated French player Nicolas Mahut.
#5 In contrast the shortest ever match in the history of Wimbledon Championships took place in 2010, between Susan Tutt and Marion Bandy – lasted a fleeting 20 minutes.
#4 Boris Becker became the youngest male champion, at the age of 17 years in 1985 and is also one of only two unseeded Wimbledon champions.
#3 The second unseeded champion, Goran Ivanisevic, is also the only ever wild card player to win the Men’s Singles title. No wild card has ever won the ladies’ singles.
#2 To control the pigeons and stop them getting in the way of the players, there’s a special employee called Rufus – a Harris Hawk! Rufus is flown from 5am every day, until the gates open, to deter the local pigeons.
#1 Our favorite and most impressive fact… The youngest player ever to become a Wimbledon champion was Charlotte (Lottie) Dod, who won the in 1887 at the age of just 15. Not only did she win the title for the next 5 years, she also won a silver medal in archery at the 1908 London Olympics, was a member of the British National field hockey team and won the British Amateur Golf Championship in 1904!
Don’t miss your chance to soak up the lively atmosphere and witness history in the making at this year’s Championships, taking place between the 2nd and the 15th July. Join us in consuming one of those 8,600 punnets of strawberries while we watch with anticipation to see if more records can be broken and names made, while enjoying culinary delights from Michelin-starred guru Albert Roux’s exclusive menu.