WIMBLEDON – TRADITION OR ARCHAIC CONVENTION?
With Wimbledon in full flow and stating that I love it and look forward to it every year, I’ve been thinking about all the extra bureaucracy and rules that accompany tennis at Englands’ , nay the worlds, top tournament. Started in 1876 it is the worlds oldest tournament.
England could be accused of being a historical museum as millions of tourists visit each year to explore our historical estates and buildings, towns and cities. Visitors from countries such as the States and Japan revel and bask in the “cute old world charm” aspects of our culture – and top of the list surely has to be Wimbledon.
Wimbledon, with its afternoon tea, strawberries and cream, Pimms and some weird and wonderful rules.
THE ALL WHITE DRESS CODE (even underclothing!) – Euginie Bouchard There can only be “a single trim of color no wider than 1 cm”. “White does not include off-white or cream.”
TOURNAMENT SPEAK – Ladies and Gentlemens events, women are given titles such as Mr or Mrs or Miss, but men remain called by their surnames.
BOWING AND CURTSEYING – up until 2003 players were expected to curtsey or bow to the people in the Royal Box. The Duke of Kent stopped this in 2003, but it is still expected if the Queen or Prince Charles are in attendance.
STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM – Strawberries and tennis both signaled the arrival of summer. Gradually, the two have become an essential part of the tournament. At Wimbledon, nearly 9,000 servings are prepared per day, using only the highest quality strawberries from the county of Kent. The berries are picked the day before being served, arriving at Wimbledon at around 5:30am, where they are inspected before removing the hull. Each year at Wimbledon, 28,000 kg of strawberries are eaten along with 7,000 litres of cream.
THE QUEUE – Wimbledon is also probably the only place in the world where thousands gather, wait and camp overnight in a queue to gain tickets for the matches. there is no rush, no uncontrollable mob, or uncouth behaviour. Around 500 seats are available for each court. People are given coloured coded wristbands according to corresponding court. So very British – so well mannered.
TIME OUT – While matches on the women’s tour permit a 10-minute break between sets two and three in conditions in excess of 30C, there are no such guidelines for men
Wimbledon has pulled itself out of the dark ages and apart from the differences between men and women game, the traditions it has makes it stand out and tiny as Britain is, that is what it likes to do!