Bombed in 1940 and other lesser-know facts about Wimbledon

wimbledon umpireOver the next 2 weeks around 500,000 people will head to SW19 for the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. For many Londoners it is a great chance to see grand slam tennis at the world’s most famous tournament. For others it’s a great time to avoid Southfields and the crowds on the District Line.

Many publications will give you what you need to know about the tennis. At Urbs we thought we’d simply serve up some of the lesser-known numbers on the tournament.

350,000 cups of tea and coffee will be consumed over the fortnight. Wimbledon is the biggest sports catering event in Europe employing 1,800 staff who will also dish out tonnes of poached salmon and strawberries.

54,250 balls will be used during the tournament’s 662 matches. Balls are changed after every 9 games. Old balls are sold off for £2.50 for a tin of 3 and the proceeds are given to charity.

39,000 is the capacity of the ground, which covers 13.5 acres. Centre Court can seat 15,000 spectators and there’s room for 11,429 on Number 1 Court.

1877 was the year that the championships began, making it the oldest tennis tournament in the world. It was men only until the women’s championship was added in 1884. During all these years there have been only 8 Wimbledons that have not been interrupted by rain.

1940 During the Second World War Centre Court was hit by a bomb. There was no tournament during the war. Other odd events on Centre Court include a streaker in 1996, the year that Sir Cliff Richard famously led a group sing-a-long when rain had stopped play for some hours.

250 The number of ball boys/girls employed to scamper across the court. The staff of the club swells by 6,000 during the tournament, including 700 security people, 350 umpires and line judges, 320 drivers and 200 cleaners

26 The millions of pounds in prize money awarded. The winners of the men’s and ladies’ singles receive a purse of £1.88 million. Losers in the first round get £29,000, not bad for a day’s work, particularly an unsuccessful one.

8 is the height in millimetres of the grass for the Championship. It soon gets worn a lot shorter than that.

1 Harris Hawk is flown around the courts each day to scare off the pigeons. Apparently he is called Rufus.

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See also

Footy fans get a great deal in London – on the tea, at least