So you think you know everything there is to know about Wimbledon? Well here are some interesting facts and figures that might surprise you!
It’s regarded as the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world and has grown into something of a Great British institution – up there with Ascot, afternoon tea and the Queen’s Christmas speech. So with Wimbledon swinging into action this week, the tennis-loving team at Staysure decided to take a look at some of the weird and wonderful facts surrounding the world’s oldest tennis tournament.
1. A Harris hawk called Rufus is used to keep pigeons away from the venue during the competition. Described as an important member of the Wimbledon family, Rufus has spent the past five years scaring away the birds – after taking over from the previous hawk, Hamish.
2. The tournament was interrupted during World War 2 when five bombs hit centre court and 1,200 seats were destroyed. Luckily no one was in them at the time, but it took nine years for the court to be fully restored.
3. Wimbledon has been going since 1877.
4. It is the only major tennis tournament still played on grass, which makes for a slightly faster game that favours big-serving and hard-hitting players. Although not everyone enjoys playing at the tournament, former world number one Marcelo Rios skipped the competition a few times, famously saying: “Grass is for cows.”
5. It was only in 2007 that the prize money for male and female players was equalised. This year the men’s and women’s singles champions will each get £2 million.
6. In 1986 yellow tennis balls were introduced – before then they were white and the umpires had trouble seeing them.
7. Each year approximately 28,000kg of strawberries and 7,000 litres of cream are eaten at Wimbledon.
8. In 1995 Tim Henman became the first player to be disqualified from the competition. The Brit lost his temper and smashed a ball straight into the face of a young ball girl. He was of course mortified and sent her some flowers to apologise.
9. Around 250 ball boys and girls are employed each year at the Championships. They earn approximately £150 for the two weeks.
10. Players must wear white clothing and dress decently. And if the umpire decides they are not dressed properly, he can send them back to get changed. Andre Agassi famously refused to play between 1988 and 1990 because he didn’t like the dress code and what he described as a “stuffy” atmosphere. Although he eventually adhered to the rules and returned in an all-white kit in 1991.