The premium date on the tennis calendar is right around the corner: we’ve selected ten things which epitomise the very essence of Wimbledon. Enjoy.
1. Rain (obviously)
Interrupting play for over a hundred years, the wet and windy British Summer takes a huge part in the Championships. The catalyst for Cliff’s famous impromptu Centre Court sing-a-long in 1996, heavy rain has previously forced the competition to run into a third week. A watery Wimbledon means good business in the gift shop, however – 2012’s sodden tournament saw the sale of 10,000 umbrellas in the grounds store.
2. Murray Mania
Since reaching the Wimbledon final last summer where he lost to Roger Federer in four sets, and having won the Olympic gold at the grounds a month later, GB’s hope of having a men’s singles winner for the first time since forever is greater than ever. And after killing off the competition at The Queen’s Club a few Sundays ago, Murray genuinely looks a likely champion this year.
Whilst the spectators at Wimbledon remain fairly tame (except for the obligatory bursts of “Come on, Murray” and the odd wolf-whistle when Nadal changes his shirt on court), the players often groan when hitting their shots. Queen of the Grunts is Maria Sharapova, whose racket-on-ball wail has been known to peak at 101 decibels (that’s the volume of a car horn). Crikey.
4. Celeb spottings
Whether they’re there for the thrilling tennis or for the VIP bubbly, every year the world’s biggest celebrities attend the tournament. And we’re not talking about the cast of TOWIE and Big Brother rejects here, A-Listers to have previously graced the grounds include the Beckhams, Jay Z, Anna Wintour and Kylie Minogue. Oh, and The Royals occasionally turn up too. If only they had somewhere special to sit…
5. The fizzy stuff
Robinsons may have been refreshing the Championships for 70 years, but it’s the bubbly that provides perfect chaser to all that strawberries and cream. If you’re not lucky enough to class The Middletons as friends and be sipping Champagne in a debentures lounge, head to Henman Hill with a bottle of Cava for a near-enough experience.
6. The return of Nadal
Last summer proved pretty disastrous for the World No.5 Rafael Nadal, whose bid for a third Wimbledon title was crushed by a shocking second-round defeat by the then World No.100 Lukáš Rosol. After a measly total of just five hours on court in 2012, a redemption-hungry Nadal returns to this year’s tournament with his eyes fixed firmly on the prize.
7. The big bucks
The total prize money for the 2013 Championships has risen by 40% in the past year, which now means there’s a hefty £22,560,000 in the pool for tournament winners. Receiving equal winnings since 2007 (rightly so), this year’s men’s and women’s singles champions bag a cool £1.6 million each – not bad for two weeks’ work, we say.
The much-loved English strawberry is the favourite fruit of SW19 (the Grade 1 Kent strawberry, to be specific) and over the course of the two-week tournament around 28,000 kg (that’s more than 300 times the weight of Andy Murray) are consumed.
9. Novelty dress
Along with its wonderful tradition and shameless Britishness, Wimbledon can still pull in a vibrant crowd. Desperate for that five seconds of fame on the telly, Henman Hill is always lined with face paint-covered, banner-draped tennis fans. We can’t promise any Borat-style mankinis, but there’ll be more McEnroe headbands than you can your shake your Union Jack at, for sure.
10. Some serious pace
Whoever said tennis was a leisurely game was clearly lying. These days, the speed of shots on the professional tennis tour is faster than ever, with the average male player’s forehand peaking a whopping 75m/ph. Blink and you’ll miss it. Seriously. Liz Darke
For info on how to get tickets and where to watch the tournament, check out our Wimbledon 2013 guide here.