The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, London, has been hosting the prestigious Wimbledon tennis tournament since 1877, making it the oldest existing tennis tournament. Regarded as one of the four Grand Slam tournaments, commonly referred to as The Majors, Wimbledon stands as a symbol of the utmost prestige in the world of tennis. Spanning 13 days annually, the event attracts a significant number of visitors. In 2019, the tournament saw a notable increase in attendance, with a total of 500,397 spectators enjoying the matches, surpassing the figures from the preceding two years.
As the annual event unfolds at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, it showcases not only thrilling matches but also an array of remarkable elements that make it truly exceptional. Here at MG Timber, we wanted to explore eight fascinating facts of this grand slam event, including the fastest serves, the hawk-eye technology, the blooming floral displays, and the unforgettable longest match in tennis history.
Here’s what we found.
Historically, tennis balls were black or white, depending on the court’s background colour. However, in 1972, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) incorporated yellow tennis balls into the official rules of the game. This decision was based on research indicating that yellow balls were more visible to television viewers. Wimbledon, on the other hand, persisted with the traditional white balls initially but eventually transitioned to yellow balls in 1986.
55,000 yellow tennis balls are used during Wimbledon every year. At the start of the day 46 tins are taken on to Centre and No.1 Courts and 21 on all outside courts. They are then changed to new balls after the first 7 games (to allow for warm-up), then after every 9 games.
The tennis balls used at Wimbledon are maintained at a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The bounce of a tennis ball is affected by its temperature. As the temperature increases, the gas molecules within the ball expand, leading to a higher bounce.
In 2022, Wimbledon had an impressive lineup of 15 Official Partners, each contributing to the success and grandeur of the event.
- Slazenger, with a remarkable partnership that began in 1902, held the position of the Official Ball supplier, ensuring the quality and integrity of the game.
- Rolex, serving as the Official Timekeeper since 1978, ensured precise timekeeping throughout the tournament.
- IBM, the Official Supplier of Information Technology since 1990, provided vital technological support.
- Lanson, the Official Champagne since 2001, added a touch of elegance and celebration to the occasion.
- Ralph Lauren, the Official Outfitter since 2006, dressed the players and officials in style.
- HSBC, the Official Banking Partner since 2008, offered financial expertise and services.
- Evian, the Official Bottled Water since 2008, kept everyone hydrated.
- Lavazza, the Official Coffee since 2011, delighted coffee enthusiasts with their exquisite blends.
- Jaguar, the Official Car since 2015, showcased their luxurious vehicles.
- Pimm’s, a refreshing summer drink, joined as an Official Partner in 2017.
- American Express, the Official Payment partner since 2019, facilitated smooth transactions.
- Oppo, the Official Smartphone since 2019, provided cutting-edge mobile technology.
- Sipsmith, the Official Gin since 2020, added a touch of sophistication to the proceedings.
- Vodafone, the Official Connectivity Partner starting from 2022, ensured seamless communication and network services.
- Babolat, the Official Stringer and Partner for tennis rackets, strings, bags, and shoes, joined as an Official Partner in 2022, contributing to the players’ equipment needs.
Together, these Official Partners enhanced the Wimbledon experience and solidified its position as one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world.
3. Tennis Rackets
Throughout the years, tennis rackets have experienced a remarkable evolution, driven by advancements in technology, materials, and design. Wooden rackets were a testament to the natural essence of tennis, widely used from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century. Crafted by laminating strips of wood, typically ash, they showcased unique craftsmanship. The strings, made of natural gut, and the leather grip cover would acquire a distinctive patina through prolonged use. However, their smaller head size and weight limited power and control, demanding precise technique. Despite their limitations, wooden rackets remained the standard in tennis for many decades.
The Dunlop Maxply Fort racket, with its iconic thin red or white bands at the grip’s end, gained popularity among renowned players like Rod Laver, Adriano Panatta, and John McEnroe. The version that combined wood with inserted graphite sheets marked a turning point, hinting at the forthcoming transformation of the game.
Historical records indicate that John McEnroe was the last player to win the Wimbledon men’s singles using a wooden racket in 1984. The use of wooden rackets at Wimbledon eventually ceased in 1987, a decade after Spencer Gore became the tournament’s first men’s singles champion by defeating William Marshall in a swift 48-minute match.
In the past few years, there has been significant progress in racket technology. Manufacturers now utilise computer simulations, materials research, and engineering techniques to enhance the performance of rackets. Innovations such as vibration dampening systems, grommet technologies, and frame enhancements have been incorporated to enhance comfort, power, and stability during gameplay. This continuous advancement in racket technology allows players to enjoy improved performance and an enhanced playing experience.
4. Fastest Serves
Throughout the history of tennis, there have been remarkable displays of power and speed, particularly when it comes to the fastest serves. Taylor Dent of the USA holds the record for the fastest serve in the gentlemen’s category, unleashing a thunderous shot at an astonishing speed of 148mph in 2010. This incredible feat highlights Dent’s remarkable athleticism and serves as a testament to the power and precision he possessed. On the ladies’ side, the record for the fastest serve belongs to Venus Williams, also from the USA, who sent a blistering shot rocketing across the net at a remarkable speed of 129mph in 2008. Williams’ serve showcases her exceptional strength and technique, cementing her reputation as one of the most formidable players in the game. These records stand as a testament to the immense talent and athleticism displayed by Dent and Williams, leaving a lasting impression on tennis enthusiasts worldwide.
5. The Real Hawk Eye
Rufus, the Harris hawk, has taken on the important role of maintaining a pigeon-free environment at the grounds. Specially trained for this task, Rufus carries out his duties diligently each morning before play begins. With his impressive aerial skills, Rufus soars across the courts, effectively discouraging pigeons from roosting. The mere presence of this majestic predator creates awareness among the pigeons, making them instinctively recognise Rufus as a potential threat. Through his daily flights, Rufus ensures that the grounds remain free from unwanted pigeon presence, contributing to a clean and pleasant environment for the players and spectators alike.
The vibrant and picturesque setting of Wimbledon is further enhanced by the presence of stunning flowers. Each year, an impressive quantity of over 50,000 plants is supplied to adorn the grounds. These meticulously selected plants add a touch of natural beauty and colour to the various areas, creating an enchanting atmosphere for players and spectators alike. From carefully arranged flower beds to hanging baskets and potted plants, the floral arrangements at Wimbledon create a visually captivating backdrop for the prestigious tournament. The meticulous attention to detail in selecting and maintaining these plants reflects the commitment to excellence that Wimbledon is known for. Whether it’s the blooming roses, elegant tulips, or other seasonal blossoms, the abundance of flowers contributes to the overall aesthetic charm and creates a delightful ambiance throughout the tournament.
7. Longest Match
One of the most extraordinary matches in tennis history unfolded on Court 18 in 2010, captivating fans for an unprecedented three days. John Isner from the USA emerged victorious against Nicolas Mahut from France in a gruelling battle that spanned a remarkable 11 hours and 5 minutes. The final scoreline of 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 70-68 only scratches the surface of the intensity and drama that unfolded. The match broke multiple records, particularly in the final set, which lasted a mind-boggling 491 minutes, surpassing the previous longest match in tennis history by 1 hour and 38 minutes. The players showcased remarkable endurance and resilience, engaging in an epic battle that saw a total of 980 points played.
Mahut managed to win 502 of those points, while Isner claimed 478. To highlight the magnitude of this match, it’s worth noting that Serena Williams, the Ladies’ Singles champion that year, won a total of 789 points over seven rounds. Isner’s serve was a standout feature, as he unleashed an astonishing 113 aces throughout the match, setting a new record for the most aces in a single match. Such an intense and prolonged contest required a substantial number of tennis balls, with a total of 123 used throughout the duration. The match between Isner and Mahut will forever be etched in tennis history as an extraordinary display of skill, stamina, and determination.
8. Food & Drink
Wimbledon stands as the largest single annual sporting catering operation in Europe, requiring a dedicated team of 3,000 staff members. The scale of the culinary offerings during The Championships is truly impressive. Just to give you an idea, they serve an astounding 18,061 portions of fish and chips, ensuring that attendees can savour this quintessential British dish. Additionally, 6,147 servings of pasta are prepared exclusively for the competitors, providing them with essential energy for their matches. To cater to diverse tastes, 4,242 servings of sushi are also provided to the athletes. As for refreshments, a staggering 276,291 glasses of Pimm’s, a beloved summer drink, are enjoyed by spectators. Furthermore, a remarkable 64,703 portions or sticks of ice cream are devoured, satisfying the sweet tooth of many attendees.
Of course, Wimbledon wouldn’t be complete without strawberries, and they serve a remarkable 191,930 portions of this classic summer fruit. In total, an impressive 234,416 meals are served throughout The Championships, ensuring that everyone’s appetite is thoroughly satisfied during this prestigious event.
Embrace The Wimbledon Vibes With MG Timber
Create your very own Wimbledon-inspired oasis in your garden by incorporating the timeless allure of wooden outdoor furniture. With its natural charm and versatility, wooden furniture sets the perfect stage for your outdoor gatherings. Imagine relaxing on a classic wooden picnic bench or enjoying a leisurely meal at a wooden dining table while embracing the ambiance reminiscent of the prestigious tennis tournament. The warmth and beauty of wood not only add an elegant touch to your outdoor space but also create a welcoming atmosphere for family and friends to gather. Whether you’re hosting a summer barbecue or simply seeking a tranquil spot to unwind, the charm of wooden outdoor furniture will transport you to the enchanting world of Wimbledon right in your own garden.
All facts and figures are correct as of July 2023, from the official Wimbledon website.