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Wimbledon's Lesser-Known Facts

The oldest Grand Slam has more to it than tennis

Jasodhara Banerjee
Published: Jun 26, 2013 06:19:35 AM IST
Updated: Jun 24, 2013 08:09:23 AM IST
Wimbledon's Lesser-Known Facts
Image: Corbis

1. The trophy for the men’s singles is a gold cup that stands 18-and-a-half inches high, and has a diameter of 7-and-a-half inches. Strangely enough, no one quite seems to know what  the carving of a pineapple  is doing atop this magnificent cup. One theory says it has to do with the tradition of British navy captains putting a pineapple atop their gateposts on returning home from sea.

2. For some unexplained reason, strawberries and cream are synonymous with the championship.
A staggering 28,000 kg of the fruit are consumed during the Wimbledon fortnight, served along with 7,000 litres of fresh cream. The berries are always freshly picked in Kent and arrive at the venue early in the morning.

3. In 1975, for the first time chairs were provided for players to rest when changing ends.

Wimbledon's Lesser-Known Facts
4. The 19 courts at Wimbledon are made of rye grass (it is the only Grand Slam played on grass courts), which has the ability to stand wear and tear. One tonne of grass seed is used every year. A team of 45 people maintain the courts; during the championship, they mow, roll and re-line the courts every day, and use more than 11,000 litres of water to maintain the grass.

5. The top-selling items at the Wimbledon Shop in 2012 were championship towels (25,000), mini tennis ball key-rings (15,000), rubber wristbands (14,000) and umbrellas (10,000).

6. Rufus is the resident hawk at Wimbledon. A Harris Hawk, he visits the club on most weeks of the year to keep local pigeons away. During the championships, his patrols are stepped up.

Wimbledon's Lesser-Known Facts
7. Brame Hillyard became the first man to play in shorts on court 10 at Wimbledon in 1930. In 1933, Bunny Austin wore shorts on Centre Court. The women’s hemlines had been rising for a while (they began at the ankles), but it was only in 1949 that Gertrude “Gussie” Moran shocked the staid spectators and press by turning up in a skirt short enough to make her ruffled underwear clearly visible.   

8. The catering for Wimbledon is the largest for any sporting event in Europe. In 2012, it sold 12,000 bananas (for players), 142,000 portions of strawberries, and saw a million separate transactions.

(This story appears in the 28 June, 2013 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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  • Mohammad

    Here are some more lesser known facts!

    on Jul 3, 2013
  • Sachi Mohanty

    I believe the 'strawberry cream' stuff is overrated. I bet if Indian-style fast-food vending were allowed at Wimbledon -€” say pani puri, chat, egg roll and what not (I am not really an expert on the street foods of India) -€” the Britishers would ditch the strawberry cream before you could say 'fish and chips.' And I am sure the 'catering' for Wimbledon is nothing to write home about for Indians. I believe Indian temples are heavily into catering as they have to cater to thousands of pilgrims pouring in everyday. I am not a 'lover' of God ... to put it mildly but remember learning from my younger days that the Jagannath Temple in Puri holds some sort of a 'world record' in the catering department.

    on Jun 28, 2013