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Wimbledon: Beyond the court

The Wimbledon, sporting world's oldest tennis tournament is all set to begin. A look at some interesting off-court trivia and facts...

Wimbledon: Strawberries and Cream

Strawberries and Cream: This traditional English dessert is served to spectators during the tournament. The combination of Strawberries and cream was created by cardinal Thomas Wolsey in the court of King Henry VIII. It is a staple during every Wimbledon.

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II. Pic/AFP

Prince Charles (L) and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (R) in the Royal Box on Center Court before the second round men's singles match between Switzerland's Roger Federer and Italy's Fabio Fognini on day three of the 2012 Wimbledon Championships tennis tournament at the All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on June 27, 2012. Pic/AFP
Prince Charles (L) and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (R) in the Royal Box on Center Court before the second round men's singles match between Switzerland's Roger Federer and Italy's Fabio Fognini on day three of the 2012 Wimbledon Championships tennis tournament at the All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on June 27, 2012. Pic/AFP

The Royal family: Players were obligated to bow and curtsy to members of the Royal Family seated in the Royal Box upon entering or leaving Centre Court. The President of the All England Club, His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, decided to discontinue the tradition in 2003. Now, players are required to bow only if HRH The Prince of Wales, or Her Majesty The Queen is present, as was in practice during the 2010 Championships when the Queen was in attendance at Wimbledon on 24 June. Roger Federer famously mentioned in his post-match interview in 2012 that he and his opponent had been asked to bow towards the Royal Box as Prince Charles and his wife were present, saying that that was no problem for him.

A part of television history: Wimbledon was also involved in a piece of television history, when on 1 July 1967 the first official colour television broadcast took place in the UK. Four hours live coverage of the 1967 Championships was shown on BBC Two (then the only colour channel in the UK), and although footage of that historic match no longer survives, the Gentlemen's Final that year is still held in the BBC archives because it was the first Gentlemen's Final transmitted in colour.

Theme music: The BBC's opening theme music for Wimbledon was composed by Keith Mansfield and is titled "Light and Tuneful". A piece titled "A Sporting Occasion" is the traditional closing theme, though nowadays coverage typically ends either with a montage set to a popular song or with no music at all. Mansfield also composed the piece "World Champion", used by NBC during intervals (change-overs, set breaks, etc.) and at the close of broadcasts throughout the tournament.

The retractable roof on Centre Court at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon, England. Pic/AFP
The retractable roof on Centre Court at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon, England. Pic/AFP

The retractable roof: Wimbledon's Centre Court was fitted with a retractable roof to lessen the loss of playing time due to rain in 2009. It takes up to 10 minutes to close, during which time play shall be suspended. However the time to transfer from outside to inside play can be up to 45 minutes while the air-conditioning system acclimatizes the nearly 15,000-seat stadium for indoor-grass competition. The tournament rules for the Wimbledon fortnight dictate the roof must remain closed until the end of the match, so some matches may be completed indoors, even though the sun has re-emerged. The roof was closed for the first time during a competitive Championships match at about 4:40 pm on Monday 29 June 2009, during the fourth round Ladies Singles match between Amélie Mauresmo and Dinara Safina. The first full match to be played with the roof closed was a men's singles fourth round match between British player Andy Murray and Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka. 

A steward holds a sign as tennis fans queue for tournament tickets to watch the action on the second day of the 2012 Wimbledon Championships. AFP PHOTO
A steward holds a sign as tennis fans queue for tournament tickets to watch the action on the second day of the 2012 Wimbledon Championships. AFP PHOTO

No tickets? Don't worry! Wimbledon and the French Open are the only Grand Slam tournaments where fans without tickets for play can queue up and still get seats on the three show courts on the day of the match.

Tennis fans sitting on "Henman Hill" as rain delays the start of the sixth day of the 2007 Wimbledon championships. AFP PHOTO
Tennis fans sitting on "Henman Hill" as rain delays the start of the sixth day of the 2007 Wimbledon championships. AFP PHOTO

Henman Hill: At the northern end of the grounds is a giant television screen on which important matches are broadcast. Fans watch from an area of grass officially known as the Aorangi Terrace. When British players do well at Wimbledon, the hill attracts fans for them, and is often renamed by the press for them: Greg Rusedski's followers convened at "Rusedski Ridge", and Tim Henman has had the hill nicknamed Henman Hill. As both of them have now retired and Andy Murray is the number 1 British player, the hill is occasionally referred to as "Murray Mound" or "Murrayfield", as a reference to his Scottish heritage and the Scottish ground of the same name, but this has largely failed to catch on – the area is still usually referred to as Henman Hill. None of these nicknames are official.

Current prize money: The 2015 prize money is £1,880,000 each for the Gentlemen's and Ladies' Singles winners, £340,000 each pair for the Gentlemen's and Ladies' Doubles winners, and £100,000 per pair for the Mixed Doubles winners. The total prize money awarded is £26,750,000 up 7% from the £25,000,000 in 2014.

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