As the oldest tennis tournament in the world, Wimbledon has some unique traditions that make the competition one of the most prestigious, and special sporting events in the world. These traditions have persisted since the inaugural Wimbledon Championship, and are what distinguishes the event from other Grand Slams. Here are five of our favourite Wimbledon traditions:
1. The Playing Surface
Historically, all professional tennis matches worldwide were played on grass courts. Yet, as these tournaments grew, officials decided that grass is both too difficult and too expensive to maintain. After the U.S Open and Australian Open transitioned to hard-court surfaces over twenty years ago, Wimbledon became the only Grand Slam to maintain the tradition of grass courts. Today, the courts of the All England Club are part of what defines the event and are some of the most famous in the World.
2. All-White Attire
Since the first ever Wimbledon Tennis Championship in 1877, every player has been required to wear an all-white uniform. Wimbledon is renowned for having the strictest dress code of all the Grand Slam events – competitors must be dressed in all-white tennis attire (white or cream is not acceptable), including shirts, shorts, tracksuits, caps, headbands, wristbands, socks and even any undergarments that may become visible during play. A single trim of colour around the neckline or cuff that is no wider than 10mm is the only exception to the rule. The tournament officials take the dress code very seriously, and umpires will even order players to change if they do not fit the requirements before play can begin.
3. Strawberries and Cream
Strawberries and cream is an essential part of the Wimbledon tournament and the typical food of choice for visitors to the All England Club. It’s a tradition that began at the Wimbledon tournament and has become emblematic of the Championship itself. Every year, Wimbledon tennis fans consume up to 28,000 kg of strawberries, accompanied by over 7,000 litres of cream!
4. Centre Court
Built in 1922, the Centre Court is the oldest main court featured in any Grand Slam event. Used for only two weeks per year, Centre Court becomes home to approximately 15,000 fans who converge with excitement on the Wimbledon Grand Slam. In 2009, a retractable roof was installed to prevent rain delays and to accommodate night sessions.
Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam event that’s watched live by the British Royal Family. Centre Court has a Royal Box reserved exclusively for members of the Royal Family and their guests, seating 74 people in total. The Queen herself is a sponsor of the All England Club, and her cousin, the Duke of Kent, is the President of the club. Each year, the Duke and Duchess of Kent present the Championship trophy to the winners of Wimbledon. It has been a long-standing tradition for the players to curtsy to the Royal Box whenever entering or leaving the court, however, since 2003 this only occurs when Queen Elizabeth or Prince Philip is present.