13 Facts You Didn't Know About the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament

By Spencer Hart on at

Prepare your best serve-swinging grunts – the annual Wimbledon tennis tournament is about to kick off. And, unlike the footie, in Andy Murray we've got a superb player who actually stands another good chance of winning (providing he can get through what's been described as "the tournament draw of death". In support of our adopted tennis superstar, here are 13 little known snippets of trivia about the most prestigious of Grand Slam tournaments.


1.) Wimbledon is 138 years old

In 1877, The All England Croquet Club's name was changed to include 'Lawn Tennis', a game devised one year earlier by Major Walter Clopton Wingfield. To celebrate the name change, the club held its inaugural Lawn Tennis Championship on 9 July 1877, with rules which are almost identical to the ones used today. [Image Credit: Vintage Everyday]


2.) The average age of BBG (Ball Boy/Girl) is 15 years old

Ball Boys were first used at Wimbledon in 1920, and "should not be seen. They should blend into the background and get on with their jobs quietly." Every year 250 BBGs from surrounding schools are selected for Wimbledon; most serve for one tournament but if re-selected they can participate in a second. [Image Credit: HWS]


3.) The longest tennis match ever played lasted for three days

With a total play time of 11 hours and five minutes, the 2010 Wimbledon 1st Round Match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut holds the record for the longest tennis match to ever take place. Held over three days, the final set lasted eight hours and 11 minutes, with the final score 70-68 in favour of John Isner. [Image Credit: Wikipedia]


4.) A harris hawk named Rufus helps to keep Wimbledon pigeon-free

Every morning during the Championship, a harris hawk named Rufus circles the sky above Wimbledon to deter the local pigeons. Rufus is one of Britain's best-known birds, with 5,000 followers on Twitter and causing a national outcry in 2012 when he was stolen (but promptly found). [Image Credit: Twitter]


5.) Grunting makes your opponent slower and less accurate

Yep, it turns out Maria Sharapova does have a reason for all that shrieking. A study in the journal PLoS ONE asked students to watch videos of tennis players hitting a ball, then indicate which side of the court the ball would land; some shots were accompanied with a grunt while others were performed in silence. According to the study, "The results were unequivocal: The presence of an extraneous sound interfered with a participants' performance, making their responses both slower and less accurate." [Image Credit: Shutterstock]


6.) The total prize money for Wimbledon is £26,750,000

Yep, a jaw-dropping £26.75 million will be doled out to competitors during the 2015 Wimbledon Championship. The single Grand Slam champions will receive a rather tasty £1.88 million each, while competitors who lose in the First Round will receive £29,000 each. Of course it's not all about the money, it's about winning the trophy as well -- which is presented by HRH Duke of Kent. A full breakdown of the prizes can be found here. [Image Credit: Roger Federer Fans]


7.) Tennis referees are more likely to make incorrect 'out' calls than incorrect 'in' calls

A study published by Current Biology revealed that tennis referees are more likely to make incorrect 'out' calls than incorrect 'in' calls. This is because of a visual illusion that causes our brain to anticipate where the ball will bounce. This visual illusion makes the ball appear to go further that it actually does, therefore referees see it as outside the line when actually it's inside. [Image Credit: Shutterstock]


8.) High quality racket string is made from catgut

It's a myth that violin strings were once made from a cat's gut -- they never have been. They were made from 'catgut', which is made from the intestine of a sheep, goat, pig or cow. The term catgut is thought to have been an abbreviated version of cattle-gut. High quality tennis rackets also used catgut due to its efficient energy return. [Image Credit: Shutterstock]


9.) At Wimbledon, a woman had her yogurt taken away because it was not the official yogurt of Wimbledon

It turns out The All England Club are very strict when it comes to brands and advertising. In 2006, 57-year-old Marilyn Still had two pots of yoghurt and a chocolate milkshake confiscated from her because they were produced by Alpro -- not the official sponsor of Wimbledon. Marilyn, who suffers from low blood sugar, said, "I think of it as an extension of the Nanny State: these days everybody has got to do what they are told. If I want to eat a yogurt, or drink a milkshake, what on earth is wrong with that? It's ridiculous." [Image Credit: Fun as a Gran and Premier Exports]


10.) Players have to submit their clothing for approval

Players must submit their clothing to the club early in the year for approval. The decision is made before the match by the referee as to whether the clothes are suitable or not. The primary rule for acceptable dress is: everything must be white. [Image Credit: What2WearWhere]


11.) When Fred Perry won the 1934 Wimbledon Championship, they gave his champagne to the loser

When Fred Perry won his first Wimbledon Final, a club official gave his bottle of champagne to Australian Jack Crawford. Later, Perry heard the official saying, "Crawford was the better man." Although Perry was a crowd favourite, he had a conflicting relationship with the British tennis establishment who viewed him as an 'upstart'. [Image Credit: Wikipedia]


12.) The fastest serve ever recorded hit 163.7 mph

The fastest serve ever recorded was hit by Australian Samuel Groth in 2012, who reached a speed of 163.7 mph. The fastest ever serve at Wimbledon was hit by American Sam Querrey in 2009, when he smashed the ball over the net at 141 mph. [Image Credit: Wikipedia]


13.) 28,000kg of strawberries will be sold over the fortnight at Wimbledon

To ensure maximum freshness, all strawberries at Wimbledon are picked the day before and inspected before being served. Along with 112,000 punnets of strawberries, 300,000 cups of tea or coffee are sold, 250,000 bottles of water, 200,000 glasses of Pimm's, 190,000 sandwiches, 170,000 scones, 135,000 ice creams, 100,000 pints of beer, 25,000 bottles of champagne, and 32,000 portions of fish and chips. [Image Credit: Shutterstock]

[Featured Image Credit: E01 Flickr]


This post was originally published on June 26th, 2014. It's been updated to reflect stats relating to this year's 2015 Wimbledon tennis tournament.