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Tennis General

Fascinating Facts About Wimbledon Championships

Fascinating Facts About Wimbledon Championships
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Wimbledon, or ‘The Championships, Wimbledon’ to give its proper title, is the world’s oldest tennis tournament and arguably the most famous as well. 

Since the first-ever competition in 1877, the Championships have been held almost every year at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, London. It takes place at the end of June over a two-week period. 

Wimbledon is one of the tennis world’s four major Grand Slam tournaments and the only one still played on grass. It has come a long way since the first competition and remains one of the most popular events on the entire international sporting calendar. 
  
The evolution of the tournament

No tournaments took place during either World Wars, but the game continued to grow in popularity on either side of the conflict and more participants joined every year. 

In 1884, the Ladies' Singles and Men’s Doubles competitions were introduced, marking the first time that women were allowed to compete.

The first Wimbledon Championships

Lawn tennis was a relatively new concept and an offshoot of the game traditionalists called ‘real tennis’ which took place on an indoor court.

However, lawn tennis was growing in popularity and the first Championships took place on 14th April 1877.

This tournament had only a Gentleman’s Singles contest, no women were allowed to compete and there were also no doubles matches. The first Wimbledon champion was Spencer William Gore who beat his opponent 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in just 48 minutes.

Five Amazing Facts about Wimbledon

1) Tennis balls used at Wimbledon

It’s estimated that over 54,000 tennis balls are used in each Wimbledon tournament. All balls have to be professionally inspected and replaced every seven to nine games to ensure they are always in prime condition. 

Balls not in use are even kept in a refrigerated container to ensure their condition is not impacted in any way.

In 2018, there were reportedly 54,520 balls used according to the official count. This changes year-to-year.

This works out to 48 tins of the sports brand’s tennis balls for the Centre and No.1 courts daily, with a further 24 tins for the outside courts.

The balls even have to be stored at a specific temperature of 20°C for optimal performance on the court.

That’s due to the tennis ball’s composition, which comprises a rubber-coated, round hollow center filled with gas.

The temperature restrictions are in place in order for the pressure of the gas inside to be maintained – slight fluctuations in heat, on either side, can drastically affect the ball’s performance. 

And, to ensure the temperature is correct, each set of balls is switched and replaced after the first seven games.

2) The serious work of ball boys and girls

Being selected as a Wimbledon ball boy or girl is not an easy job. They are coached carefully and selected from local schools. 

Around 250 ball boys and girls are required each year and they work tirelessly tracking and collecting balls and ensuring the flow of the game is not disrupted.

3) Wimbledon has its own Hawk

Each morning of the Wimbledon tournament, a Harris hawk called 'Rufus' is employed to circle the Wimbledon airspace to deter the local pigeons from entering the prestigious Centre Court and causing havoc!

Rufus was even stolen in the summer of 2012 – thankfully he was returned 3 days later, safe & sound and ready to patrol the Wimbledon skies again!

4) Europe’s largest sports catering event

Wimbledon holds the record for the single largest annual sporting catering event in Europe. Over 234,000 meals are served, guests enjoy over 330,000 cups of tea and coffee, and over 29,000 bottles of champagne are shared too. And that’s not even including the strawberries and cream!

5) Lightning-fast serves recorded

In 2010, Taylor Dent recorded the fastest serve of all time at 148mph. 

In the women’s game legendary player Venus Williams tops the bill. In 2008 her serve shot past at 129 mph.

6) Wimbledon makes tennis legends

Swiss tennis player and all-round great of the game Roger Federer holds the record for most Wimbledon titles won by a professional male in the modern game. 

Federer has won the Championships eight times. The most successful woman at Wimbledon is Czech superstar Martina Navratilova. Her career saw her bag a total of nine Wimbledon Championships!

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