Order on the court! Wimbledon 2023 is finally here, with its on-court drama, side-court fashion, and off-court picnics. But what are the Wimbledon traditions? C&TH delves into the stories behind the main traditions, from strawberries and cream to Murray Mound.
What Are The Wimbledon Traditions?
Why Do Players Wear White At Wimbledon?
From the very beginning, all competitors have played in head-to-toe white. The rule was introduced in Victorian times to hide perspiration – sweating was considered improper back then. To this day, players must be dressed almost entirely in white, with just a single trim of colour around the neckline and the cuff of the sleeves considered acceptable. Indeed, the clothing rules stipulate that ‘white does not include off white or cream,’ and this applies to practice as well as matches.
That said, at the end of 2022, the tournament’s organisers announced that women would be allowed to wear dark shorts in the 2023 season in a Wimbledon first, in a nod to players’ period concerns. Appended with an asterisk, the rules state: ‘Exception provided for female players who are allowed to wear solid, mid/dark-coloured undershorts provided they are no longer than their shorts or skirt.’
Strawberries & Cream
The staple Wimbledon dessert, strawberries and cream, has been served at the Championships ever since the first tournament in 1877. Historians believe the tradition was started by Thomas Wolsey, the King’s right-hand man, who allegedly first served the combination at a banquet in 1509. It went down well and was served to spectators at Hampton Court Palace tennis court while games were taking place.
A similar tradition, though nowhere near as long-running, is drinking Pimm’s at Wimbledon. The classic British cocktail – made with lemonade, plenty of cucumber, strawberries and orange slices, mint springs and a healthy dose of the titular gin-based liqueur, Pimm’s – first appeared at the tournament in 1971, and has been a stalwart sip ever since.
Murray Mound or Henman Hill? There’s ongoing debate about what the grassy bank at Wimbledon should be called. It’s official name, though, is Aorangi Terrace. Every year, thousands of tennis fans turn up to watch the tournament on a huge television screen. To gain access, you need a Ground Admission pass, which can be bought on the day by joining the Queue (more on that below).
People have been joining the famed Wimbledon Queue since as far back as 1927. As a sport, tennis is steeped in manners – and, of course, we’re British, so it’s only natural we queue. The Queue was temporarily scrapped in 2021 due to Covid, but it was back and better than ever in 2022, and we expect the same this year. Wimbledon allocates a set amount of tickets for each court, and at 9.30am each day, queueing tickets become available on a first-come-first-served basis. The really committed fans camp out overnight, while others head there in the early hours of the morning – or you can head on down post-5pm to catch some of the later matches, when tickets are slightly cheaper and the queue will move more quickly.
There has been a Royal presence at Wimbledon for over a century now, with the Windsors typically frequently the Royal Box. But the Royals’ interest in tennis stretches much further back than that, with King Henry VIII often playing tennis at Hampton Court Palace. The Royal Box is home to 74 prestigious seats, with the best view of centre court – but isn’t restricted to royal use. In fact, each year, invitations come from the Chairman of the All England Club, and guests are invited to the clubhouse for lunch, tea and drinks at the end of the day. Learn more about the Royals’ connection to Wimbledon here.
Rufus The Hawk
Ever wondered how they keep the luscious grass courts at Wimbledon free from pigeons? You have Rufus the hawk to thank. The All England Lawn Tennis Club’s official ‘bird scarer’, Rufus is charged with, well, scaring other birds away from the courts. He’s somewhat of a minor celeb in the tennis world, with over 3,000 followers on Instagram.
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