The highlight of the tennis fan’s year is nearly upon us. But how much do you really know about the world’s oldest tennis tournament?
We’re fast approaching the start of one of the most exciting and unpredictable sporting events of the year – Wimbledon. But how much do you know about The Championships, the world’s oldest tennis tournament? Here are 14 things you might not...
1. The quality of the prizes has changed dramaticallyWhen Billie Jean King won in 1967 she received a £45 gift voucher. Fast-forward nearly 50 years and last year’s winners both walked away with a cool £2 million.
2. There are 250 ball boys and ball girlsWimbledon employs around 250 young people to collect tennis balls during matches (mostly selected from nearby schools) over the course of the tournament. Every person chosen goes through months of intensive training.
3. This year marks Wimbledon’s 140th anniversaryThis makes it the oldest tennis tournament in the world. The first Championships took place in 1877, and when it began men’s singles was the only event played there (ladies’ singles had to wait another eight years).
4. As long as it’s white, players can choose what clothing to wearIt does have to be submitted for approval beforehand though, to decide whether the clothing is suitable or not.
5. 28,000kg of strawberries will be sold
Strawberries and cream is the snack of choice for tennis fans at Wimbledon. On average, 28,000kg of the fruit will be sold over the Wimbledon fortnight. And the spectators have come to expect only the very best produce – each one is picked the day before to ensure maximum freshness.
6. Up to 40,000 tennis balls will be used
And each one will have been hand-tested for weight, bounce and compression as well as being stored at exactly 68F.
7. The longest ever match lasted 183 games
John Isner defeated Nicolas Mahut in a record-breaking 11-hours-and-5-minutes match, in first round of men's singles in 2010. The match broke several other records, including for the most points in a match (980).
8. Wimbledon has only been suspended twice
On both occasions this was because of war. Play was stopped between 1915 and 1918 and then again from 1940 to 1945 (in fact, during WWII, a bomb hit centre court, resulting in the loss of 1,200 seats).
9. It’s one of the most-watched sporting tournaments in the world
But Wimbledon wasn’t always the must-see event it is now – there were only 200 spectators for the first one.
10. The fastest ever recorded serve is 148 mph
This was recorded at Wimbledon during the 2010 tournament, when American Taylor Dent hit a speed of 148 mph against Serbian Novak Djokovic.
11. Two players share the record for 5 consecutive victories
The Swedish Bjorn Borg (1976–1980) and Swiss-born Roger Federer (2003–2007) jointly hold the record for the most consecutive victories – a jaw-dropping five!
12. Only one person has been disqualified
It was in 1995 that Tim Henman became the first man to be disqualified from Wimbledon, taking his doubles partner with him. During the match, Henman had lost his temper and smashed a ball in frustration, which hit a young girl right in the face. Henman rushed to apologise, but the top brass disqualified him for unsportsmanlike conduct.
13. Players have to bow if the Queen or the Prince of Wales is present
It used to be a rule that players, upon entering or leaving the Centre Court, would take a bow in front of the Royal Box, whoever was sitting in it. But in 2003, the President of the All-England Club, the Duke of Kent, changed the rules. Now players only need bow if the Queen or the Prince of Wales is present.
14. Only seven Wimbledons have been rain-free
Since the first Championships in 1877, just seven tournaments have passed without any rain: 1922, 1931, 1976, 1977, 1993, 1995, 2009 and 2010. So here’s hoping for 2017!
Would you like to wander around the famous Wimbledon stadium? Enter our Wimbledon competition, for a chance to explore Centre Court, the picnic terraces and the Water Gardens. You’ll also gain access to areas normally closed to the public as you explore the history of the tournament. It’s an unforgettable day out for any tennis fan.