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16 strange but true things you never knew about the annual tennis championship in London
Looking forward to Wimbledon 2017? Check out these weird and wonderful facts about the annual tennis championship and impress your pals over a punnet of strawberries and glass of Pimm’s…
1. Don’t complain about rain
During World War II, a bomb ripped through centre court and 1,200 seats were lost. Fortunately, they weren’t filled at the time. Play finally resumed in 1946 but it wasn’t until 1949 that the area was back in top shape.
2. A short introduction
In 1930, Brame Hillyard became the first man to play wearing shorts. That was on court 10 – and Bunny Austin was the first to do so on centre court three years later.
3. By the letter
Goran Ivanisevic is the only Wimbledon champion whose entire name alternates consonants and vowels. We’re not sure who did the research into that, but we’re glad it wasn’t us!
4. British bad boys
Tim Henman was the first-ever person to be disqualified from the men’s doubles in 1995, after hitting a ball in anger and striking a ball girl in the process. Andy Murray, in turn, became the first British player in 106 years to be fined after swearing at a match official – although that was in a different tournament.
5. Champion eats words
When Spencer Gore became the first Wimbledon champion in 1875, he said he doubted whether the game would catch on – perhaps unsurprisingly since it cost just one shilling to watch the final and Gore received 12 guineas for his triumph.
6. Name that game
The name ‘tennis’ is thought to come from the French ‘tenez!’ (‘take’ or ‘receive’), a server’s warning shout.
7. Beautiful balls
Ever wondered why tennis balls are yellow? They weren’t always – white balls were replaced in 1986 because they are more visible to TV cameras.
8. New balls please
A ball is only in play for about 20 minutes of an average two-and-a-half-hour tennis match.
9. Loud and proud
Maria Sharapova broke the record for the loudest grunts on court – recorded at a deafening 101.2 decibels!
10. Game, set and match
The longest match in Wimbledon history was played over three days in 2010 when John Isner beat Nicolas Mahut after 11 hours and five minutes of tennis. The final set lasted eight hours and the match used 123 balls.
11. Time for a break
Venus Williams won her 2005 final against Lindsay Davenport in the longest ladies’ singles final ever played at Wimbledon lasting two hours and 45 minutes.
12. Time for a sit down?
Chairs were only provided for players to rest when changing ends in 1975.
13. Strawberries and cream
Last year, 23 tonnes of strawberries were served to visitors. When laid end-to-end, these berries would stretch almost 60km (37 miles), i.e. from Wimbledon to Reading. A slippery slope when you include the 7,000 litres of fresh cream racked up each fortnight.
Getting excited? Don’t miss our guide on how to enjoy the tennis without tickets.
14. String theory
At least 40 miles worth of string are fitted to 2,000 rackets over a fortnight at Wimbledon. That’s just under six laps’ worth of centre court.
15. Rufus saves the day
Rufus the hawk flies for one hour every morning of the championships before the gates open to ward off the local pigeons. He starts his duties at 9am on the dot.
16. Tickets, please!
Over the two weeks of Wimbledon, there are a whopping 39,000 spectators in the grounds at any one time.
Wimbledon 2011 has kicked off