Beyond The Score: There’s Nothing Like Wimbledon’s Traditions

By Lisa Thomas

Many would call The Championships at Wimbledon the most prestigious tennis in the world. Or, some may suggest one of the greatest sporting event on the annual calendar.  A summer spectacle of pomp and tradition along with some rather splendid grass-court tennis.

Wimbledon traditions include strict dress codes for players, a not as strict dress code for some spectators, strawberries and cream and of course Royal and celebrity patronage.

Steve Johnson of USA in action at the Australian Open, Melbourne, 2015.

Former SCTA prodigy and USC star Stevie Johnson has advanced all the way to the Round of 16 at Wimbledon.

According to the official Wimbledon website the player dress code introduced in 1963, requires players to be “predominately in white”.  The rule was revised in 1995 to suggest, “almost entirely in white”.

The guidelines for players are as follows:

  1. No solid mass of coloring
  2. Little or no dark or bold colors
  3. No fluorescent colors
  4. Preference towards pastel colors
  5. Preference for the back of the shirt to be entirely white
  6. Preference for shorts and skirts to be entirely white
  7. All other items of clothing, including hats, socks and shoe uppers to be predominately white

Some players embrace the idea and enjoy the tradition.  This year Serena Williams is apparently loving her all-white, high-necked and modest dress.  Roger Federer said he likes the rules but believes them to be a bit much.  Case in point the swirl of attention around the bright orange color of the sole of his tennis shoe in 2013.  He was asked not to wear the shoes again because they apparently broke the All England Club’s dress code.

Just as players are governed by clothing guidelines so too are the spectators found on the Centre and Number One Court.  Simply put they are required to dress smart but casual.  That meant for many years jacket and tie for men and dresses for women.  This has been relaxed in recent years and ties are no longer required and jeans and t-shirts are now deemed OK.  Try getting to your seat in dirty shoes or dressed like a biker and you may not receive the warmest of welcomes.

As for the strawberries and cream, you may not even like the soft fruit but it seems that eating at least one bowl is compulsory. With over 9,000 servings prepared daily this dish is almost as much a part of Wimbledon as the tennis itself. The berries are picked the day before from the county of Kent and delivered to the All England Club by 5:30 a.m., where they are inspected before being hulled and prepared for serving.

Then of course you have the unique aspect of Royal attendance. The Royal Box has been used for the entertainment of friends and guests of Wimbledon since 1922.  British and overseas Royal Families are invited as well as heads of state, people from the world of tennis and a variety of other dignitaries. These guests of the Chairman of the All England Club are then invited to the Clubhouse for lunch, tea and drinks at the end of the day.  It certainly adds to the spectacle to have a Royal in attendance.

When it comes down to it, whether you are fortunate enough to be an on-site spectator or a viewer from afar, Wimbledon is an occasion.  It require some reverence and it remains a great reminder that our sport is steeped in a wonderful and proud history with or without the whites and fresh fruit.

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