20 Things You Didn't Know About Wimbledon

The venerable Tennis Championships started July 3rd. Here are the fun facts…


1  The Championships, as the multi competitions tournament is formally known, are one of the oldest sporting events in the world, first held in 1877. Tickets then cost just one English shilling, equivalent to about 10 U.S. cents at the time.



2  The tournament is played at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, located in the London suburb of Wimbledon. The Club Croquet Championships actually only started in 1953, to coincide with Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. And in 2007 they gave up the ghost and the last croquet lawn was sacrificed for another tennis court.



3  The first match was played on grounds situated off Worple Road in Wimbledon. Centre Court was originally the center court, with smaller courts surrounding it.



4  Centre Court long ago stopped being the center of the complex.



Wimbledon Court
Game. Set. Match. Modern day Wimbledon Spiralz/Flickr



5  The first tournament had one event, the gentlemen’s singles. The first winner was Spencer Gore, who lost his title defense the following year and then disappeared from tennis. Until 1922, Wimbledon title defenders only had to play in the final.



6  Around 6,000 staff members make the Championships run smoothly. This includes 250 ball boys and girls, 22 physio and massage therapists, a very symmetrical 360 umpires and line judges and their management, 2 podiatrists,  400 housekeeping staff (Housekeeping? What do they do…?) and 2,200 catering staff (I guess they have their priorities solid).



7  Approximately 61,700 pounds of strawberries and more than 10,000 liters of fresh cream are consumed during the tournament.



8  The ladies’ singles and mens’ doubles events were added in 1884. Ladies’ doubles, and mixed doubles, in 1913.



9  The shortest person to play Wimbledon was Cynthia Gem Hoahing, at 4-foot-9. Hoahing was born in Hong Kong in 1920 (she died nearly 100 years later, in 2015). In 1949, she beat the 6-foot-tall, top-three-ranked U.S. player and fashion model Gussy Moran. It was an upset.




Wimbledon 3
The skirts were a bit longer in 1908 Photo provided by Wonderlust

10  The dress code calls for players to wear “predominantly white” or “almost entirely white.” Women who wear tops that show too much cleavage are not allowed on the court. Jaroslav Drobny, Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova are some of the few players to win Wimbledon titles wearing glasses.




11  Wimbledon still requires that the final set of each match be won by two games and not decided by tie-breaker. This resulted in the longest match in competitive tennis history in June 2010, when John Isner and Nicolas Mahut battled for 11 hours and 5 minutes over three days. Isner finally won the set 70-68.



12   The match required 183 games, including 138 in the final set. A plaque commemorates the game on a wall outside Court 18.



13    Men who have won the most titles: 12 William Renshaw (seven singles and five doubles titles), 12 Laurence Doherty (five singles and seven doubles), 11 Reginald Doherty, Laurence’s brother (four singles and seven doubles). 8 Tied: John McEnroe (three singles and five doubles), and Roger Federer (eight singles, which is the record for number of mens’ singles). 7 Two of the greatest players of all time, Pete Sampras (seven singles) and Rod Laver (four singles, one doubles and two mixed doubles) have seven titles each, and in 2022 Novak Djokovic won his seventh singles title.



14  In 1959, Laver was runner-up in the singles and doubles, and won the mixed doubles. He also won the singles title in the four years in a row that he could play — winning in 1961, 1962, 1968 and 1969, having been barred for turning pro in 1962, before being allowed back at the beginning of the Open era, in 1968. Laver remains the only player to twice win the four Grand Slam titles in one year.



15  The women who have won the most combined titles are: 20 Billie Jean King (six singles, 10 doubles and four mixed doubles — she was apparently great at doubles),  and Martina Navratilova (nine singles, seven doubles and four mixed doubles). 19 Elizabeth Ryan (12 doubles and seven mixed doubles), 15 Suzanne Lenglen (six singles, six doubles and three mixed doubles), and 14 Serena Williams (seven singles, six doubles and one mixed doubles).



16  The youngest player to win Wimbledon was Charlotte Dod, at 15, in 1887. She won the singles crown four more times (1888, 1891-93).



17  It took almost 100 years for the youngest boy to win Wimbledon, In 1985. 17-year-old Boris Becker was also the first German and first unseeded player to win.



18  The Duke of York (who became King George VI and was Queen Elizabeth’s father) played as a competitor in men’s doubles in 1926 with Sir Louis Greig. They were beaten by fellow countrymen Arthur Gore (who was not related to Spencer Gore, if you were wondering) and Herbert Roper Barrett, 6-1, 6-3, 6-2.



19  Maria Sharapova holds the record for the loudest grunts on court, recorded at 101.2 decibels. That’s roughly the same noise level as a 747 taking off, and only 20% less than legendary British rock band The Who, which earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1976 as the loudest band of all time. She is not likely to lose that record.



20  During most mornings of the tournament, at 9 a.m. on the dot, two hawks named Rufus and Pollux fly over the venue to scare away local pigeons.



Wimbledon 2
Lawford vs. Renshaw, 1880s Photo provided by Wonderlust



This piece originally appeared on ESPN.com