Wimbledon is the oldest of the four grand slams. The tournament is known for its meticulously followed traditions and rich history. There are many facts about Wimbledon known to the tennis-watching community – but there are many more which are followed religiously year after year and yet are not known to the general audience. Here are some interesting traditions that you didn’t know:
1. Wimbledon Courts
The grass playing height is 8 mm and the grounds crew spend an entire year working on the grass to make them ready for the tournament. The grass is composed of 100% Perennial Ryegrass to improve durability. Nine tonnes of grass seed is used each year and all courts are mown, rolled and re-lined daily to ensure they are prepared as close to ideal as possible. Not just that, the court wear, surface hardness and ball rebound are measured every single day.
2. Dress Code
Players must dress “almost entirely in white”. Skirts, shorts and headbands can only have a thin trim of color, not more than 1 cm wide. The back of shirt, dress, tracksuit or sweater must be totally white. Shoes must be “almost entirely white”, including the soles. All participants are required to submit clothing to the Club for comment prior to the tournament. Not only is the clothing white but even medical supports and equipment should be white, wherever possible.
3. Middle Sunday
It is a well-known fact that all the four grand slams last exactly two weeks starting on Monday and ending on the Sunday of the following week. But did you know that Wimbledon is the only tournament which has no play on the ‘Middle Sunday’? This tradition is followed to allow the grass courts a day off to perform at their best during the second week. However, play was scheduled on the Middle Sunday due to bad weather four times in the tournament’s history – 1991, 1997, 2004 & 2016. This day is also referred to as ‘people’s Sunday’ due to unreserved seating and inexpensive tickets.
4. Ball Persons
250 ball persons are chosen each year from 750 entries. The average age of a ball person is 15 years. Four teams of six are selected to serve the centre and no.1 courts, while the rest are assigned to other courts. The usual routine is a one hour duty followed by one hour off.
5. Tennis Balls
Slazenger is the official ball of Wimbledon since 1902. Each year, 53,000 balls are used at The Championships. White balls were used until 1985 after which the yellow tennis balls were introduced. The used tennis balls are sold with earnings donated to Wimbledon Foundation. All the balls are stored at 68F.
6. Centre Court Roof
The roof was installed at the Centre Court in 2009 costing a whooping $125 million (close to Rs. 810 crore) to enable play even during inclement weather. The roof closes and opens in less than 10 minutes. Once closed, it takes about 20 minutes for the air management system to take effect and create optimum playing conditions. It takes 20 members of the grounds crew 20 seconds to cover Centre Court. The roof will also be added to court no. 1 in the 2019 Championships.
Wimbledon is the third major of the year and is the oldest tennis tournament dating back to 1877. This year, Wimbledon is staging its 131st edition. Usually, there is only a two-week break between the French Open and Wimbledon, but 2017 is the 3rd year with an added week between the two majors; the gap was three weeks this time around. Consequently, this year was the latest start to the tournament since 1888 when it began on July 7.
8. Prize Money
At the Wimbledon, 3rd round loser gets $116,500, the 4th round loser gets $190,280, while the champion gets $2.8 million. No wonder tennis players are some of the richest sportsmen in the world.
Players must bow or curtsy if The Queen or The Prince of Wales attend the Championship; The Queen last attended Wimbledon in 2010.
Rufus the hawk is released every morning at 9 AM to scare off the pigeons away from the grounds.
There are many sporting events that happen around the world but few have the richness in their tradition like Wimbledon. It is not a surprise it is one of the most awaited events on the tennis calendar and considered the world’s premier tennis tournament.