As the world’s oldest tennis tournament, Wimbledon is heralded as one of the most prestigious titles to win. Over the years it has seen players thrown into the limelight and has provided huge amounts of entertainment (and not just for the tennis play, John McEnroe). It is also the only grand slam event that is played on grass. With such an extensive history, there are a number of traditions and historical facts about Wimbledon that may surprise you.
How old is Wimbledon?
The game of tennis was created by Major Walter Clopton Wingfield in 1876, one year later, ‘Lawn Tennis’ was added to the title of The All England Croquet Club. In celebration of this addition, they hosted the first Lawn Tennis Championship on 9th July 1877, which makes Wimbledon 139 years old!
How long was the longest match ever played?
In 2010, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut met each other in the first round; 11 hours and five minutes later the match was over. The match went on for three days, with the final set lasting a whopping 8 hours and 11 minutes and with John Isner finally winning with the score 70-68!
What’s the total prize money?
During the 2015 championship, a massive £26.75 million was awarded to all of the players. £1.88 million was given to the two champions and £29,000 was awarded to each of the losers in the first rounds.
Prize money wasn’t issued at the tournament until 1968, where the men and women received different amounts for winning the title. The mens singles’ winner won £2,000 while the ladies singles’ winner won £750. Up until 2007 when both single winners were awarded £700,000 each, there remained a difference between the amounts that the men and women received.
What’s the fastest ever serve recorded at Wimbledon?
In 2010, American player Taylor Dent achieved the fastest ever serve witnessed at Wimbledon in a match against Novak Djokovic. The speed of the serve was 148 mph, which equates to approximately 240 kmph.
The fastest serve ever recorded was at Busan Open 2012 Challenger Event when American-player Samuel Groth smashed a serve of 163.4mph (263 kmph)!
How many strawberries are consumed during the tournament?
During the fortnight that Wimbledon runs, approximately 112,000 punnets of strawberries will be consumed. All of these are picked on the day that they are served at Wimbledon. Along with these, there will be 32,000 lots of fish and chips; 25,000 bottles of bubbly; 100,000 pints of beer; 135,000 ice creams; 170,000 scones; 190,000 sandwiches; 200,000 glasses of Pimms; 250,000 bottles of water and 300,000 cups of tea and coffee sold.
Who was the youngest person ever to win Wimbledon?
In 1887, Charlotte Dod was the youngest player ever to win the championship, at just 15 years old. For the next five years, she retained her title. However, this wasn’t her only sporting activity, as Charlotte was also involved in the London Olympic Games in 1908 where she was awarded a silver medal in archery. In 1904, she won the British Amateur Golf Championship and was even a member of the 1899 British National field hockey team. A very multi-talented sportswoman indeed!
The youngest man ever to win the championship was 17-year-old Boris Becker, beating Kevin Curren in the final in 1985. Becker wasn’t just the youngest man ever to win but was also the tournament’s first unseeded champion and the first-ever German to win Wimbledon. Three record-breaking feats in one!
How many tennis balls are used during the tournament?
During Wimbledon, approximately 42,000 tennis balls are used. However, these don’t just go to waste after the tournament ends as they are sent on to the Surrey Wildlife Trust where they are used to create harvest mice homes. Having become a threatened species due to the vast reduction in its natural habitat, the harvest mouse is now part of the Biodiversity Action list. The tennis balls are creatively turned into homes for the mice by drilling little ‘doors’ into them so they can build a nest for themselves during summertime.
Where are all the pigeons while the tournament is on?
You can’t walk through any town centre without seeing a number of pigeons and you’ll often find that one presents itself during a football match; so where are they all while the matches at Wimbledon are being played?
They’re hiding from Rufus the hawk. Every morning before the matches commence, Rufus can be seeing circling the skies in an attempt to ward off the pigeons. He won’t harm them but he prevents them from interfering with the games and will also stop them building nests outside tournament times.
In 2012, there was a public outcry when Rufus went missing, but thankfully, he was later found. In fact, he has become a bit of a national hero and boasts over 8,000 followers on Twitter.
What happens if someone doesn’t wear whites?
Before the tournament commences, the players have to submit their clothing to the club to be approved. The umpire will deem if the clothing is appropriate and if it meets the club’s dress code (everything has to be white). In 1988, 90 and 90 Andre Agassi was outraged at the continued dress code rules and refused to play, deeming it a ‘stuffy’ atmosphere.
Who was the first person to be disqualified from the tournament?
In 1995, Tim Henman was the first ever person to be disqualified from Wimbledon. Having lost his temper during his doubles match with Jeremy Bates, he smashed a ball in frustration which hit a ball girl in the face. Henman later apologised and bought the young girl flowers but was still disqualified from the tournament, as was his doubles partner, Bates.