Here are a few of our favourite facts….
23 tonnes of strawberries and 7000 litres of cream are eaten every year at Wimbledon. So what’s the connection with tennis? No one knows for sure, but there are several theories, including that they were fashionable in Victorian England and in season during Wimbledon. Some people think that combining strawberries and cream started in Tudor times, when strawberries were thought to treat some medical complaints. Strawberries and cream were served at the first Wimbledon tournament in 1877 and have been a tradition ever since.
Wimbledon was hit by several bombs in World War II and over 1000 seats were destroyed. When war broke out, the tournament was cancelled and the All England Club was used as a farmyard, home to animals including pigs and hens. It was also used by emergency services, the Home Guard and troops for drilling. Part of Centre Court was hit on October 11, 1940 and although Wimbledon started up again in 1946, the stands weren’t fully repaired until 1949.
The All England Club was originally a croquet club. When the club was formed in 1868, croquet was the only sport played there. Croquet was one of the only sports in Victorian times that men and women could play equally and became very popular. It wasn’t until 1875 that lawn tennis started to be played and the first tournament was only held to raise money, to buy a horse-drawn roller for the croquet lawns. Quickly tennis took over, with its popularity helped by tennis being more of a spectator sport that croquet. Croquet vanished from the All England Club for some years, but was introduced again for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
Around 54,000 tennis balls are used and many are donated to wildlife centres to become homes for harvest mice. Wimbledon tennis balls have to be replaced frequently and the old balls are often sold to spectators, or taken. Around 700 go missing every year. Harvest mice have increasingly had their habitats threatened and conservation organisations have discovered that tennis balls make perfect rodent homes. Tennis balls are waterproof and can be attached to a stick above the ground, to avoid predators. Cutting a small hole in the tennis balls allows the mice to get in, but keeps anything larger out, so the mice stay safe