Wimbledon is not only known as one of the most prestigious tennis competitions in the world, but it also has a long history and enduring tradition to support it. The tennis grand slam tournament, an annual sporting event that marks the beginning of summer in Britain, draws over 500,000 spectators in person and hundreds of millions of TV viewers worldwide.
Wimbledon, which distinguishes itself as the only major tennis event held on grass courts, is regarded as iconic because during the tournament, South London practically halts.
The 138th event, the 2023 edition, has already seen its fair share of drama and shocking upsets. The drama was highest when fourth seed Coco Guaff and seasoned champion Venus Williams were unexpectedly eliminated in the first round.
In order to fully immerse you in Wimbledon culture and prepare you for the event's remaining two weeks, we've compiled a list of amazing Wimbledon facts that are bound to amaze you.
*The strict all-white dress code
One of the most distinctive features of Wimbledon is the extremely strict dress code which players must follow. According to the book , the over 130 years tradition of “tennis whites” dates back to the 1800s, when players wore white in order to avoid sweat patches on brightly coloured clothing.
This dress code rule was first made popular among women because it was quite unthinkable then that a lady should be seen to sweat.
Irrespective of the fact the origin may seem slightly sexist, the rules are adhered to by both men and women now – in 2013, Wimbledon champion just because they had orange soles.
*Most titles won by men and women
There have been some long winning streaks at Wimbledon, but who has won the most singles titles? Martina Navratilova dominated the Women’s category, winning Wimbledon nine times between 1978 and 1990 and continued playing until 2006. She also won doubles and mixed doubles tournaments.
For the men’s singles title, Roger Federer currently holds the record for most Wimbledon won. The Swiss maestro won a record eight titles during his 24-year career.
*The unlikely animal friend –Rufus “Hawk”:
Wimbledon has its own Hawks called Rufus whose job is to scare away pigeons each morning from the tennis courts.
During most mornings of the tournament, at 9 am the hawk named Rufus fly over the venue to scare away local pigeons.
The hawk circles the sky above Wimbledon grounds to scare away the local pigeons. It mostly doesn’t harm them – just deter them away from the games.
Rufus has over and sent the nation into a panic when he was stolen in 2012. Thankfully, the hawk was recovered safely.
Rufus also works at Northampton Saints rugby ground, Fulham Football Club and Westminster Abbey and is also used to train a new hawk, Pollux, teaching him how to become accustomed to the TV cameras and equipment.
*The longest match in the history of the tournament
Matches can go on for hours and hours – and sometimes even days. The record for the longest-ever Wimbledon match was at the 2010 tournament, where John Isner of the United States won against French player Nicolas Mahut.
On the second day of the tournament in 2010, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut arrived on the court shortly after 6 pm ready to play their first-round singles match.
A little after 9 pm, the players had secured two sets each and play was suspended until the next day. The following afternoon at 2 pm, they began the fifth set. 3 hours 40 minutes later, the match became the longest in tennis history, with the scores tied at 32-32.
As the score reached 47-47, the scoreboard stopped working! At just after 9 pm, with the score at 59-59, the match was once again suspended until the following day.
The following afternoon, after a further hour of play, Isner emerged victorious with a score of 70-68. With the final set lasting over 8 hours, the longest-ever match now consisted of 183 games and a running time of 11 hours and 5 minutes.
*The huge consumption of Strawberries and cream
Wimbledon is synonymous with strawberries. And it is reported every year that over 140,000 bowls of strawberries and cream are dished out for the spectators and players. It is wildly rumoured that all the fruit comes from one farm in Kent. Every morning before dawn, two teams of 40 pickers arrive at the farm to pick over 100,000 strawberries for one day’s consumption.
*Winners do not get to keep their trophy
The trophy at Wimbledon is retained by the tournament. The players get to handle it and go on a media tour with it, but get replicas to take home with them.
The winner of the Gentlemen’s Singles competition receives a silver gilt cup that is 18.5 inches in height and 7.5 inches in diameter. The trophy, which has been given since 1887, is inscribed with the words “All England Lawn Tennis Club Single Handed Championship of the World.” The original trophy is kept in the All England Club’s museum, therefore the champion receives a three-quarter-size copy of the Cup inscribed with the names of all previous champions.
The winner of the Ladies’ Singles receives a sterling silver salver known as the “Venus Rosewater Dish,” or simply the “Rosewater Dish.” The salver, which measures 18.75 inches in diameter, is adorned with mythological characters.
Silver cups are awarded to the winners of the Men’s Doubles, Ladies’ Doubles, and Mixed Doubles competitions. Unlike previous Grand Slam competitions, where the winning Doubles tandem shares a single trophy, each player in the Doubles pair receives a trophy.
These trophies though remain on display at the All England Club’s museum and the winners go home with a small replica of the trophy.