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Wimbledon Traditions

Similar to many British sporting events, Wimbledon is steeped in tradition. The first Championships were played in 1877, making it the oldest tennis tournament in the world. Back then only 21 players turned up to play for the Gentlemen's Singles Trophy; nowadays over 100 players take part with several titles up for grabs incl. for Wheelchairs and Juniors.

Let's dive deeper into some of the traditions and explore what makes Wimbledon so distinctive.

All-White Dress Code: Players are required to wear predominantly white clothing on the court. This tradition dates back to the 19th century and adds a sense of elegance and formality to the tournament. In other tournaments players can express themselves in much more colourful ways, but at Wimbledon white means white - off white or cream are expressly not allowed, and even Mr Federer got a telling off in 2013 for wearing orange soles on his shoes...

Grass Courts: Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam tournament still played on grass courts, in keeping with the original tournament in 1877. The grass surface requires a different style of play compared to clay or hard courts, as well as careful maintenance from the groundsmen. In preparation for and during the Championships the grass is cut at a height of 8mm every morning, lightly watered if required, and then rolled. With a total of 18 championship courts and 22 practice courts, there is plenty of mowing to be done!

Royal Patronage: Wimbledon has a special relationship with the British Royal Family. Members of the Royal Family, including the Prince and Princess of Wales, often attend matches, adding to the prestige of the event. Wimbledon's Centre Court features a special seating area known as the Royal Box where members of the Royal Family, as well as other dignitaries and celebrities, are invited to watch.

The Queue: Fans can queue for tickets to Wimbledon on the day of play, and have been doing so since 1927. Some dedicated fans camp out for days and stay overnight in "The Queue" to secure tickets (and an official sticker). Apart from debenture tickets and the Ballot, this is the only way to obtain tickets.

Strawberries and Cream: One of the tastiest Wimbledon traditions is the serving of strawberries and cream. It has become synonymous with the tournament and is enjoyed by fans throughout the event. The berries are picked freshly at 4am in the morning before being driven to Wimbledon and inspected by 9am. You get 10 strawberries in a serving, which amounts to roughly 28 tonnes of berries and 7,000 litres of cream being consumed in the two-week period.

Championship Trophies: The winners of the titles at Wimbledon receive iconic trophies: the Gentlemen's Singles Trophy (the Challenge Cup) and the Ladies' Singles Trophy (the Venus Rosewater Dish).

The inscription on the Men's trophy reads "The All England Lawn Tennis Club Single Handed Championship of the World" and surprisingly features a pineapple on the top! This most likely stems from a pineapple being a rare and coveted fruit back when the tournament started. The players do not get to keep the trophies but instead receive a smaller replica.

The Hill: Outside of Centre Court, there is a grassy area where spectators gather to watch matches on a large screen. Originally known as Henman Hill and later renamed Murray Mound in honour of Andy Murray, it provides a communal viewing experience for fans. You may be surprised to hear that the formal name is 'Aorangi Terrace'. The name stems from when the land was leased from the AELTC to the New Zealand Sport and Social Club from 1967 to 1981. They named the hill Aorangi, which means ‘cloud in the sky’; the Maori name for New Zealand’s Mount Cook.


These traditions, the timeless appeal and the world class players are a unique combination which makes fans gather year after year in SW19.


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