Summer has officially arrived, which means a whole host of events to keep us entertained during the warmer months! One of our favourites is Wimbledon which was founded in 1877, making it the world’s oldest tennis tournament. It’s a quintessentially British affair and draws in celebrities and spectators from across the globe every year.
Whether you’re a tennis enthusiast or just fancy a glass of Pimms, here are five facts about Wimbledon that might surprise you...
1.Tennis used to be played with no rackets; just the palm of your hand!
As strange and unconceivable as this one sounds, up until the 16th century, tennis used to be played with nothing but the palm of your hand. We’re sure that Nadal and Murray would be glad that rackets were introduced with the fastest recorded serve in tennis being by Taylor Dent at a whopping 148 mph.
2. Longest tennis match ever
The longest running game of tennis sounds pretty tiring. Would you believe that this accolade goes to the match between American player John Isner and French player Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010. This lasted a jaw dropping 11 hours and 5 minutes - over three days!
3. All in white
If one is talented enough to play at Wimbledon, ‘tennis whites’ is not just a phrase, but a stringent rule which has meant that players have to be entirely dressed in white down to their underwear! In 2013, Wimbledon champion, Roger Federer was told that in order to play his next match, he must change his shoes which sported bright orange soles. Tennis balls are also traditionally white but were changed in 1972 in order to be more easily seen by the cameras!
4.Very special security
Whatever your opinion on pigeons, they are not a tennis player’s friend. Wimbledon has one very special form of security to make sure that the pitch stays in pristine condition throughout the year and also wards off unwanted guests when matches are on. Rufus the Hawk is an integral part of Wimbledon, weighing no more than 1 pound, he and his handler; Imogen Davies, take this job very seriously throughout the year.
5. Time to serve!
You can’t go to Wimbledon without indulging in traditional summer treats! Every year, 166,000 servings of Strawberries, 10,000 litres of litres of dairy cream, and 320,000 glasses of Pimm’s are consumed during the weeks of Wimbledon. It’s the largest European catered-for sporting event, hiring over 1,800 staff to make sure that all guests are suitably fed and watered throughout the tournament.
Where to watch the action
Wimbledon will be running all this week and next on the BBC and Radio 5. Ex player and TV favourite, sports commentator Sue Barker will be keeping us up-to-date with all the action over the next few weeks.
So it’s simply down to you to make sure that the Pimms is chilled and the Strawberries and cream are ready to be served. What could be more British than that?