With the 131st edition of tennis’ most coveted Grand Slam already upon us, there is a lot to look forward to during the upcoming fortnight. Let’s take a look at a few things that make Wimbledon such a prestigious slam!
1) The Whites
The only tennis tournament to have a so called “dress code”, the Championships has had an age old tradition requiring players to don only white outfits. But how strict are the organizers when it comes to this rule? Just ask Roger Federer. Federer a 7-time champion, who sported orange soles to his shoes during his first round match in 2013, was pulled up by the organizers as they saw the shoes as breaking the rules. While some players in the past have shown their displeasure against the rule- Agassi boycotted Wimbledon. Agassi chose not to play at Wimbledon from 1988 to 1990, publicly announcing that he did not wish to play there because of the event’s strict traditionalism, particularly the “compulsory white” dress code which players at the event are required to abide by. The rule has always been followed till date.
2) Aorangi and Roehampton
Unlike the other Grand Slams where the qualifying matches are held on the same courts as the ones used during the main draw, Wimbledon stands apart. Qualifying for men’s and women’s singles as well as doubles takes place at The Bank of England Sports Centre, Priory Lane, Roehampton, London, SW15 5JQ. What’s more, the players do not practice on the courts used during the fortnight! Instead, they hit out on the courts at Aorangi Pavilion which initially had only had 14 grass courts to work with but has now expanded to house 22 courts. No wonder Wimbledon is different!
3) Strawberries and Cream
One may wonder how strawberries and cream connect with the hallowed turfs of SW-19. Well, the combination was served at the first ever Wimbledon tournament in 1877, when 200 spectators came to see the Championships. Fast forward to 2017 and this combination still remains one of the staple foods to binge on while you are at SW-19. According to the official Wimbledon website, on average 10,000 litres of cream and 28,000 kg of strawberries are eaten at the tournament each year! Don’t forget to keep your stock of strawberries and cream ready for the upcoming fortnight!
4) The Royalty
Wimbledon’s connection to royalty dates back to 1910, when King George V became the patron of the All England Club. As a part of tradition, the Royal Family is seated in the Royal Box at the All England Club’s Centre Court. Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam to feature a Royal Box. The remaining majors have a President’s box, which is used for the President of the country’s tennis federation. It was a long-standing tradition for players to bow to members of the Royal Family seated in the Royal Box upon entering or leaving Centre Court. However since 2003, this has been reformed with players required to bow only if the Prince of Wales or the Queen is present.
5) The celebrities
As the saying goes: “You’re not a true celeb if you haven’t been to Wimbledon.” Every year, the most iconic tennis lawns act as a ground for the world’s most famous faces as they sit courtside to watch their favourite players in action. From Hollywood stars to famous singers, to iconic sportsmen, Wimbledon has never been short of star presence! While David Beckham is a regular at SW-19, various other celebrities are spotted during the Wimbledon fortnight gracing the Centre Court!
6) Rufus….. and now Pollux
While so much goes into preparing for the Wimbledon fortnight, there are many unsung heroes whose efforts go unnoticed, be it the grounds-men or the ball kids. One such hero is Wimbledon’s very own, Rufus- a Harris Hawk. It has been a decade since Rufus first patrolled the skies at SW-19 warding off unwanted pests such as pigeons, thus ensuring smooth progress of play! What’s more, since 2016 year he has a new partner in action, another Harris Hawk called Pollux. While Pollux is still a newbie, Rufus for sure is a veteran and together they will plan to ensure a trouble free Championships in 2017!
7) Middle Sunday
Wimbledon is the only Slam where no play is scheduled for the Middle Sunday of the Championships. While it is traditionally reserved as a “Rest Day”, there have been just four instances of play being scheduled on Middle Sunday- 1991,1997,2004 and the latest being in 2016. While the rains are to be blamed for the havoc in the schedules thus causing play on Middle Sunday, it did manage to attract large number of spectators as they witnessed something special!
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 3, 2016
8) The Champions since the turn of the Millenium
While the Championships has seen a plethora of champions- Legends and Hall of Famers, what sets it apart is the fact that since 2003 the Gentlemen’s singles competition has seen just 4 different men lift the trophy- namely Roger Federer(’03-’07,’09,’12), Rafa Nadal(’08,’10), Novak Djokovic (’11,’14,’15) and Andy Murray(’13,’16). On the women’s side, just six women have lifted the Venus Rosewater Dish- the Williams sisters, Serena (’02,’03,’09,’10,’12,’15,’16) and Venus(’00,’01,’05,’07,’08) winning 12 titles amongst themselves, Maria Sharapova (’04), Amelie Mauresmo(’06), Petra Kvitova(’11,’14) and Marion Bartoli (’13). Indeed, winning Wimbledon requires something remarkable!
Do let us know why Wimbledon is special according to you!