Hawks, 10,000 litres of fresh cream and more: 10 incredible facts about Wimbledon

Hawks, 10,000 litres of fresh cream and more: 10 incredible facts about Wimbledon

Hawks, 10,000 litres of fresh cream and more: 10 incredible facts about Wimbledon

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The world’s oldest and most prestigious tennis event takes place in SW19, South London. Named after its location, Wimbledon attracts the finest tennis talent in the world to its hallowed green grounds every June and July. As the championship returns for 2022, here are 10 fun facts about Wimbledon you probably never knew.

This year will be the first time in the history of Wimbledon for play to happen on the middle Sunday, as it is usually provided as a rest day. That simply gives thousands around the world one more day of riveting tennis to watch, with the luckiest being present at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club from June 23, 2022.

1. RUFUS THE HAWK

The tournament has its very own hawk called Rufus and his job is to scare away pigeons every morning from the courts. He took over the job from Hamish in 2003 and even has his own pass, with his official title of ‘Bird Scarer’.

In 2012, there was an outcry when Rufus was kidnapped from his handler Imogen’s car. Luckily, he was found a few days later strutting around Wimbledon Common.

Guests need to get in early to see Rufus, as he’s mainly on duty from 5am to 10am each morning of the tournament. The American Harris Hawk also has his own Instagram and Facebook pages.

2. PERFECTLY-CUT GRASS

Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam tournament in the world that is played on grass, let alone grass that is quite so perfectly manicured. Wimbledon grass is perennial ryegrass and is maintained at an exact 8mm throughout the tournament.

3. TRADITIONAL FOOD AT WIMBLEDON

In keeping with the location, the food served at Wimbledon is typically British. Strawberries and cream have a long association with the tournament with 166,055 servings dished out over the 14 days. Hugh Lowe Farms in Kent pluck the fresh strawberries at sunrise and deliver them to Wimbledon by 11am each day. The fruity delicacy has long been associated with British aristocracy in the summer time, first being served in 1509.

In addition to the strawberries, 110,225 scones are served throughout the tournament and seaside favorite, fish and chips, is ordered 17,170 times!

Sample proper British fare on the Best of Britain tour.

4. A ROYAL AFFAIR

Fans of the British Royal Family can usually catch a glimpse of a Royal or two during the tournament, particularly the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who love the atmosphere.

However, the royal connection didn’t begin until 1907 when new Wimbledon secretary, George Hillyard, asked Prince George, his childhood friend, to present the trophy to the winners. Since then, members of the Royal Family have served as Patron of the All England Club. Currently, Catherine Middleton (Kate) is in the position.

See the homes of royalty on the Elegance of Great Britain tour.

5. CELEBRATING A CENTURY

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Centre Court at its current location. 14,979 attendees can watch play on the main court, which has included showdowns between Roger Federer and Andy Murray, Martina Navratilova and Nina Garrison, and Venus Williams vs Lindsay Davenport. The retractable roof, which has done much to help play when it’s raining, was inaugurated in 2009.

6. THE BEST BALLS

There’s a strict protocol that surrounds the balls used at Wimbledon. 54,250 balls are used during the tournament, with a ball replaced after every seven to nine games. They are stored at 68 degrees Fahrenheit and dropped from a 100-inch height to ensure they bounce between 135 – 147cm off the ground.

7. ALL WHITE DRESS CODE

The official dress code for Wimbledon is almost entirely white, and it’s a rule enforced by umpires looking to penalize anyone who doesn’t comply.
The rule was brought in due to propriety, as sweat doesn’t show so much when a player wears white. The only color that is permitted is 1cm trim of color, on caps, skirts, bandanas, socks etc.

Andre Agassi boycotted the tournament from 1988 – 1990 due to these rules. In 2013, Roger Federer received a warning about the soles of his shoes being orange. The Williams sisters, Venus and Serena have also been chastised for their choice of colored undergarments.

8. HOME TO THE LONGEST TENNIS MATCH

Tennis matches last around 1 – 2 hours, maybe slightly longer. After that point, one player will start making mistakes and that’s how the game is won or lost. Wimbledon has been a showcase for some lengthy battles, and the longest one was between John Isner and Nicholas Mahut in the 2010 tournament. It took place over 3 days, lasting 11 hours and five minutes, with Isner taking 70 games to 68 in the 5th set.

9. THE LONGEST CONTRACT IN HISTORY

One of the lesser-known facts about Wimbledon outside the UK is its partnership with the BBC. The matches were first broadcast on radio in 1927 and the BBC was the first to televise the Championships in 1937. Their contract is in place until at least 2027, making it the longest-running sporting broadcasting contract of all time.

10. THE IMPORTANT ROLE OF A BBG

One of the most coveted things to do at Wimbledon for London teenagers is to become a Ball Girl or Boy. 250 15-year-olds are carefully selected through their schools and then go through rigorous testing and training, including learning to stay perfectly still for 3 minutes or more. They need to be precise and fast, and they will be dismissed if they don’t meet the high standards of the tournament.

Do you know anymore surprising facts about Wimbledon? Tell us in the comments below.