Wimbledon is one of the most famous sports events in the world, welcoming top talent from the tennis world to compete for a fortnight each July. The tournament is known for many things, including great hospitality and a high-class feel which helps set it apart from similar events.
Despite being such a hugely popular tournament, there are lots of things about Wimbledon which you might not know about. Let’s look at ten things nobody ever tells you about Wimbledon to maximise your enjoyment during your next stay with us at our 5-star boutique hotels London…
Wimbledon wasn’t always so popular
Tickets for Wimbledon are now in high demand. While most tickets are scored with a public ballot, tennis fans regularly queue for hours in the hopes of scoring a seat at the key matches of the season. However, it wasn’t always this way. At the time of Wimbledon’s first tournament, tickets were sold for just a shilling each, and while today the event regularly scores a worldwide audience of millions, at the first match there were only 200 spectators.
Players bow to royalty
For many years, Wimbledon carried a tradition where players would bow when they reached the Royal Box, a viewing platform reserved for members of the Royal Family and their guests. This tradition officially ended in 2003, but it still applies when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II or the Prince of Wales are in attendance.
Wimbledon is named after its location
The name of the event is drawn from the place the action unfolds, in Wimbledon, south-west London. The venue has changes since its original founding, from Worple Road to Church Road, where every Wimbledon Championships has taken place since 1922.
A (sponsored) advertising-free zone
Unlike most sport events, Wimbledon does not allow sponsored advertising. Despite covering 14 acres, you’ll find no sponsorship signs anywhere at the venue, and this makes it a refreshing change from the many events throughout the year which take a significantly more ‘advertising friendly’ approach. The reasoning given for this advertising-light way of working is that Wimbledon intends to keep its mantle as a classy, timeless affair – and too much advertising could prove garish or distracting for players.
A new roof to avoid rain delays
Throughout its lengthy history, Wimbledon has frequently been a washout thanks to the inclement British weather. A new retractable roof was fitted to the Centre Court in 2012, and tennis legends Andy Murray and Roger Federer were the first people to play a match under the roof, which weights around 3000 tonnes in total.
The only tennis tournament on grass
Wimbledon is unique amongst tennis tournaments, as it is the only Grand Slam still held on grass. The grass at Wimbledon is an important feature, formed of 100% rye grass which provides the durability required for serious tennis playing. This grass is one of the most interesting things to see in Wimbledon, given its remarkable novelty in a world which has turned to different terrain for tennis competitions around the world. Some of the most commonly used surfaces in tennis include clay, as found at the French Open, and the hard courts used in the US and Australian Open.
Local schoolkids help out at Wimbledon
If you’re attending Wimbledon during your stay at the Montcalm Marble Arch Hotel, you might notice the ball girls and ball boys (sometimes known as BBGs) who help the event run smoothly. These children are drawn from the local schools in London, after being nominated to take part by their teachers. The average age of a BBG is 15, and until 1985, there were no ball girls at all on the Centre Court. There are lots of hoops for each candidate to jump through before they are selected for this prestigious honour, including a written test to determine their aptitude. Once they’ve been selected, on the day of every tournament BBGs will be on hand to ensure each match runs smoothly.
Winners don’t keep their trophy
Winning at Wimbledon might be prestigious, but that certainly doesn’t mean you get to keep your trophy! The Wimbledon trophy remains on display at the Wimbledon Museum at the All England Club, though players don’t go away empty handed. Between 1949 and 2006, every champion was given a miniature replica of their trophy. Since 2007, the size of the replica has increased (now standing at around ¾ the size of the original), ensuring each winning player has something they can display to remember their victory.
You can tour the venue all year
Even if you aren’t able to get your hands on tickets for the main event, you can still tour the venue all year-round. The All England Club has been the official home of Wimbledon since its earliest beginnings, and there is a museum on-site which houses not only the Wimbledon trophy but a wide range of Wimbledon-related memorabilia sure to delight tennis fans at 5 star boutique hotels in London.
The Wimbledon tour will take you on an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at perhaps the most famous tennis venue in the world, and lasts 90 minutes to ensure a thorough exploration of the club’s most impressive spaces. One of the newer additions to the tour is a virtual reality experience which transports visitors back to the early days of the event.
Centre Court was used at the Olympics
The 2012 Summer Olympic Games was one of the most impressive sporting events in the UK for a long time, hosted in and around London. As such a notable event, the Olympic committee made use of some of the best sports venues in London when it took place, including the first-class facilities available at the All England Club. Whilst the Centre Court at Wimbledon’s All England Club is usually only reserved for Wimbledon itself, the tennis events at the Olympics took place here, ensuring a professional-grade space ideal for great sportsmanship.