There’s not long to go now until the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world undergoes its 133rd edition, where the best of the best will compete to try and taste glory at Wimbledon. The All England Club has provided tennis fans with some of the most iconic and famous moments the sport has ever produced, and the 2019 tournament promises to be as eventful as ever.
Novak Djokovic is the early favourite (8/5) to retain the men’s title, in what would be his fifth victory in SW19 and there’s no surprise to see Serena Williams (4/1) is the current favourite for the women’s title, in what would be her eighth success in Southwest London. You can check out the rest of the available markets on Paddy Power for the best possible prices, with all the entries listed. Ahead of this year’s tournament – which starts on 1st July – we’ve picked out nine fun stats and facts about Wimbledon you may not have known.
You have to go back some 142 years for the very first Wimbledon tournament (1877), easily making it the oldest tennis competition in the world. It was open to amateurs but the only event played in its inauguration year was the Men’s Singles. It wasn’t until 1844 that Ladies Singles and Men’s Doubles were introduced, with Ladies’ Doubles and Mixed Doubles coming in 1913.
Keep still for three minutes
Every year, roughly 250 ball boys and girls are selected from local schools to work at Wimbledon. Those who are carefully handpicked have to show a high degree of discipline, speed and awareness, and they’ll have to demonstrate they can stand still for approximately three minutes. They’ll also be expected to attend weekly training courses so it’s no easy feat working at Wimbledon as a ball boy or girl.
No, that’s not the length of Boris Becker’s facial hair but the exact measurement of the height of the grass at Wimbledon. Since 1988, Wimbledon is the only tennis major played on grass and owing to the prestige of the competition, the grass has to be kept at 8mm all the time.
A lot of balls
As you can probably imagine, there are a lot of balls that are used throughout the two weeks of Wimbledon, but the exact figure will likely raise an eyebrow or two. In total, around 53,000 balls are used during the tournament and they are renewed after the first seven games and then every nine games after that.
Ever wondered why Wimbledon faces hardly any disruptions from pigeons and similar pests? It’s all thanks to the prowess of the friendly yet industrious Rufus, who is a Harris hawk essentially employed to ward off any unwanted visitors. Rufus already has a growing fan base, boasting over 10,000 followers on Twitter and he’ll be in action for 2019’s edition.
Strawberries and cream
Okay, so you probably did know that Wimbledon is synonymous with strawberries and cream, but the sheer number that is consumed each year is truly amazing. In 2017, it was reported that some 23 tonnes of strawberries were eaten alongside 7,000 litres of fresh cream. That equates to roughly 8,600 punnets being consumed each day, and there’s little surprise to know the food is of the highest quality – they are Grade 1 Kent berries and they are typically picked the day previous before making their way to SW19.
Rain delays? No chance
This will be the 11th year that Wimbledon has been able to rely on the Centre Court roof, and over 8,000 litres of fresh air are pumped into the arena whilst the roof is closed. This is to make sure that the conditions are maintained but that rate of 8,000 litres occurs each second – pretty impressive yet imperative.
Wimbledon isn’t just a huge hit in Great Britain and Europe, but the rest of the world all demonstrate an interest in the greatest tennis tournament in operation. Wimbledon is often televised in over 200 countries and can draw in audiences around the one billion mark – making it much more widely viewed than the Grand National (400-500 million).
Most singles titles (open era) – Roger Federer (8)
Most doubles titles (open era) – Todd Woodbridge (9)
Most consecutive titles (open era) – Roger Federer & Björn Borg (5)
Fastest serve (open era) – Taylor Dent – 142mph in 2010
Most singles titles (open era) – Martina Navratilova (9)
Most doubles titles (open era) – Elizabeth Ryan – (12)
Most consecutive titles (open era) – Martina Navratilova (6)
Fastest serve (open era) – Venus Williams – 129mph in 2008