10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Wimbledon
You might know the No 1 seed and the Brit most likely to get knocked out in the first round, but you probably won’t know these top 10 facts about the world’s biggest tennis tournament
Words: Nick Hammond
1 You have to apply to be a Ball Boy or Ball Girl. Last year, more than 750 hopefuls entered for the chance to scamper up and down in the blistering sun and hand out towels to stroppy tennis players. Just 250 lucky few were chosen.
2 The price for a bowl of strawberries and cream (minimum of ten strawberries, don’t you know) hasn’t changed since 2010 – it’s a bargain at just £2.50. And the fragrant, refreshing strawberries you nibble on beside Centre Court were picked in Kent that morning at 4am, in the packing centre at 9am and delivered to the Club by 11am.
3 Some 613 stewards work over the Championships, along with 400 housekeeping staff, 22 massage therapists and physios, 31 groundstaff, 2,200 catering staff, 30 dressing room attendants and 50 data collectors. There are also 22 in-house media staff helping cope with the 3,250 journalists, broadcast personnel and photographers.
4 The Royal Box – a veritable Who’s Who of the great and the good (with a smattering of ‘slebs’) – contains 74 dark green, Lloyd Loom wicker chairs. The revolutionary wicker material (smooth and comfy, no sharp edges to snag expensive clothes) was first released in 1902. The Queen has only ever sat in the Royal Box on four occasions; 1957, 1962, 1977 and 2010.
5 1,334 Panama Hats were bought from the Wimbledon shop during the 2017 fortnight. Even though Panama is in the name, the hats do not hail from that country. They actually have their origins in Ecuador and they popularised back in the 19th Century.
6 There is a waiting list of around 1,000 names to become a member of the Club. Full and Life Memberships are limited to 375 at any one time and to become a member, you must be proposed and seconded by four existing Full Members – all of whom must give written reasons why they are proposing you.
7 The grass on the Wimbledon playing surfaces is carefully manicured to a strict 8mm long and is 100% rye grass, known for being hardwearing, quick to establish, tolerant of mowing and growing well in colder or damp conditions.
8 More than 50,000 plants are supplied to brighten up the tournament each year. The famous ivy on Centre Court is Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata veitchii).
9 The ‘new’ Centre Court roof can only be deployed in wind speeds below 43mph. It’s composed of ten trusses, each weighing a colossal 70 tonnes, and eight litres per second of fresh air per person are pumped in to maintain the environment once the roof is closed.
10 Slazenger supply all balls for the Wimbledon Championships and has done since 1902. Yellow balls were used for the first time in 1986 and balls are stored at 68F. Some 54,250 were used during the Championships last year.