Do You Know These Wimbledon Facts?

By Victoria Thomas Last edited 18 months ago
Do You Know These Wimbledon Facts?
Image: E01

It wouldn't be summer without Wimbledon. From per diems to a hawk called Rufus — here are 10 things you might not know about Britain's favourite ball-thrashing event of the summer.

Balls

There are a load of balls. 54,250 were used in the Championships period last year. These are stored at 68°F and new balls are rolled out after the first seven games (to allow for warm up), then renewed every nine games. You can even buy used balls after — it's £2.50 for a can of three. Bargain.

Food and drink

Wimbledon's the single largest annual sports catering event in Europe with over 1,800 staff. The average quantities consumed by punters over the two weeks include 235,000 glasses of Pimm's, 142,000 portions of strawberries and 28,000 bottles of champagne.

Centre court roof

Almost 15,000 people can watch the Centre Court action. Image: Kat Shann

To keep Centre Court at its best, eight litres per second of fresh air per person is pumped into the bowl to manage the environment. The roof's fabric is 100% recyclable and it takes a maximum of 10 minutes to close. That's easily enough time for Sir Cliff to give a quick burst of one of his tunes, a la 1996.

Serves

Blink and you miss it with these serves. Image: Carine06

The fastest serve of all time was the swift swiping Taylor Dent at 148mph in 2010. The speediest women's serve was Venus Williams in 2008 — at a wind-whistling 129mph. The most aces in 2015 were struck by Ivo Karlovic with a massive 165 over four matches.

Staff

New balls. Image: Zoonabar

The Championships employ around 6,000 staff including 1,800 catering staff, 305 cleaners, 700 security guards, seven ball distributors and 250 ball boys and girls. There's stiff competition for the role of ball boy/girl — over 750 apply and the chosen ones complete a rigorous training programme.

Pest control

A Harris hawk called Rufus is responsible for keeping the grounds pigeon-free. He's specially trained for the task and flies across the courts each morning before play, discouraging pigeons from roosting by making them aware of his predator status.

Strawberries and cream

The best berries in London? Image: Magnus D

Over 8,600 punnets of Wimbledon's favourite foods are usually consumed daily and standards are high. Strawberries are Grade I Kent berries of the highest quality, no less than 10 in each portion. They're picked the day before sale and arrive at the grounds around 5.30am, where they're inspected and hulled — ensuring only the most perfect make it into mouths.

Rain

Rain stops play. Image: SNappa2006

Since Wimbledon weather records started in 1922, there have only been seven championships recorded without rain interruptions. Centre Court has had its retractable rain-proof roof since 2009, so the show can go on. But play still has to wait for a maximum of 30 minutes to resume after the roof has been closed. This is to ensure that the internal environment is controlled and stabilised.

Audience

In 2015, 484,391 people watched the Championships at the grounds across the 13-day match period. In the UK, the BBC holds the broadcasting rights of Wimbledon exclusively, in an agreement that stands until 2017. Across the world, the games are shown in over 200 territories, with an estimated audience of 1 billion people.

Prizes

The total prize money in 2015 was £26.5m, with £1.88m going to the Singles Champions. There were generous winnings across the games — even the First Round Singles losers took home just under £30,000 each. Player per diems were estimated at £963,000 — that's a lot of strawberries and cream put on the tab.

All facts and figures are correct as of May 2016, from the official Wimbledon website.

Wimbledon 2016 takes place from 27 June to 10 July.

Last Updated 22 May 2016