photo : financial times
The lush green lawns, players dressed in all-white, delicious strawberries and cream, polite yet powerful roars from the crowd, and the Royal Box are some of Wimbledon’s many traditions.
As the oldest of the four majors, the Championships is also the most unique. Even the name itself stands apart. It is the only major with a one-word name based on its location. Wimbledon is a suburban district in London in the borough of Merton and has been home to the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, the tournament’s site since it began in 1877. The tournament is also nicknamed SW19 for its postal code.
In over a century of history, many memorable traditions have accrued. Players must adhere to a strict dress code of all-white attire. An age-old tradition dating back to the 19th Century has since disappeared from all other tennis tournaments.
Fans come from around the world to experience tennis excellence. Some are lucky enough to purchase tickets in advance, but others join the famous queue to get same-day tickets. Five hundred premium show court seats are offered on a first-come-first-serve basis except during the final four days of the tournament. And in typical Wimbledon fashion, there are etiquette guidelines for waiting in the queue. Thousands of same-day grounds passes are also available for unreserved seating on outer courts and the famous Henman Hill.
Another traditional fan experience is enjoying the classic snack of strawberries and cream. A trip to the All England Club without strawberries and cream is like going to the movies without popcorn. The tournament reports that around 31 tons of strawberries are consumed each year!
Even those in the Royal Box have been known to contribute to those 31 tons of fruit. This will be the 100-year anniversary of the Royal Box. Since 1922, 74 seats have been reserved for the British Royal Family and their guests. Over the years some of the esteemed attendees have included: Queen Elizabeth II, Prince William & Kate, Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, David Beckham, Tom Cruise, and many more.
Of course, the best tradition must be the playing surface itself. Grass is the original court surface of tennis but over the past century has mostly been replaced by hard and clay courts. Now the grass-court season consists only of a handful of tournaments over five weeks, two of which are Wimbledon. The rarity of both professional tournaments and grass courts outside the United Kingdom enhances the one-of-a-kind atmosphere.
Along with the well-known traditions, there are much more nuances people may not consciously be aware of. These include not having any advertisements on Centre Court, the men’s and women’s tournaments being referred to as the Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ events, and the defending men’s and women’s champions playing the opening matches on Centre Court. The defending men’s champion, who this year is Novak Djokovic, would play the first match on Monday and the defending women’s champion would play the first match on Tuesday. With Ashleigh Barty retiring, that honor will likely go to last year’s runner-up Karolina Pliskova.
A tradition special to Canadians is that a player sporting the maple leaf has been in the second week of singles every year since 2014. Genie Bouchard 2014 F, Vasek Pospisil 2015 QF, Felix Auger-Aliassime 2021 QF, Denis Shapovalov 2021 SF, and Milos Raonic 2019 4R – 2017 & 2018 QF – 2014 SF – 2016 F. It doesn’t quite date back all the way to 1877 but Canadian players/fans will hope it continues this year.
Even though some traditions have remained constant, there are some changes that have been made. This year there was a shocking reveal that for the first time ever there will be matches scheduled on middle Sunday. Some reasons given for the additional day of tennis have been attributed to revenue, scheduling fairness, and a focus on the local community.
Wimbledon 2022 will see the fourth round spread over 2 days (as Middle Sunday arrives), a mixed quarter-final schedule, and a new second Thursday mixed doubles final. And the queue will return. pic.twitter.com/ElrDK7iHkH— Russell Fuller (@russellcfuller) October 19, 2021
With play through all 14 days of the tournament, this means another tradition will cease to exist, Manic Monday. In previous years, every fourth round match was played on the Monday of week two. Sixteen high-quality singles matches all in one day was always one of, if not, the best days of tennis throughout the entire year.
Another change recently announced is ladies’ singles champions will now be listed on the All England Club’s honor boards simply by their first initial and last name instead of being preceded by “Miss” or “Mrs.”. Gentlemen’s singles champions have always been listed in such a manner.
Exclusive: Wimbledon is replacing its honours boards before next month’s championships to remove titles “Miss” and “Mrs” in front of names of female winners in order to replicate the men’s boards: https://t.co/pnEGLbf3LQ— Martyn Ziegler (@martynziegler) May 26, 2022
Wimbledon is all about the traditions, but not all traditions need to be kept and new traditions are welcomed. Some traditions even come and go such as the seeding adjustments that have been made in past years.
Overall, the Championships Wimbledon will always be the most unique and enthralling tennis tournament in the world at the most prestigious venue.