Tuesday 12 December 2017

From Rufus the hawk to the Irish players - 10 Wimbledon must-knows

Rufus, the Harris Hawk which patrols Wimbledon to deter pigeons
Rufus, the Harris Hawk which patrols Wimbledon to deter pigeons
Brian O'Driscoll and his wife Amy Huberman (left) in the Royal Box during day twelve of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
Rufus the Harris hawk, who keeps pigeons at bay during Wimbledon fortnight, has been stolen
Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic embraces a member of her support team after defeating Eugenie Bouchard of Canada in their women's singles final tennis match
Brian O'Driscoll, centre, shares a joke with model Suki and TV presenter Bear Grylls, right, Centre Court at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships.
Novak Djokovic returns to Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov during their Wimbledon men's singles semi-final . Photo: CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images

Anita McSorley

As Wimbledon grinds to a halt, we look at ten must-knows as finals take place.

1.Rufus the Pigeon-scaring Hawk

Rufus the Hawk is in charge of keeping the Wimbledon games pigeon-free. He patrols the sky year-round from 5am until 9am every morning, scaring off small animals and birds. Wimbledon has been using hawks since 2000 as an ongoing deterrent.

2.Dress Code

Wimbledon is known for its strict rules regarding the dress-code of spectators and competitors, but did you know players can be banned for not meeting the strict dress code?

In 1958, Karol Fageros was banned when she showed up wearing gold lame underwear. She was allowed back again after she agreed to cover them with white lace.

In more recent times, Rodger Federer’s orange soled Nike trainers were banned in 2012 by officials for violating the tournaments all-white dress code.



Spencer Gore won the first Wimbledon in 1877 in front of just 200 spectators. The highest ever attendance ever recorded was in 2001, with 490,081 spectators turning out to see the event.

4.Youngest players

The youngest ever player at Wimbledon was Mita Klima from Austria, who was 13 years old when she played in the singles competition in 1907. 15-year-old Martina Kingis was the youngest ever champion, winning the doubles in 1996.

5.Irish at Wimbledon

The golden era of Irish tennis was in the 19th century. Only four Irish people have ever won a Wimbledon title. In 1980 there were double wins with Lena Rice from Co. Tipperary winning the woman’s singles and Willoughby Hamilton from Co. Kildare winning the men’s singles. Rice is the first and only Irish female player to win at Wimbledon.

In 1893 and 1894, Joshua Pim from Co. Wicklow completed back-to-back wins. Harold Mahony from Co. Kerry won the mens singles in 1896.

6.Ball boys and girls

Every year, 250 ball boys and girls are selected from around 700 applicants. The average age is 15 years old. They are required to take part in two-hour training sessions every week from February until the competition begins in June.

7.Longest match ever played

The longest match ever played was between John Isner and Nicholas Mahut in 2010. It lasted three days. John defeated Nicholas after 11 hours and five minutes of play over three days. 183 games were required to produce a result.

8.Balls in the fridge

More than 54,000 balls are used during Wimbledon and they are kept in a fridge kept at exactly 20 degrees Celsius before the competition. After the competition, the balls are sometimes sold to spectators in the grounds for £2.50 (€3.16) per can of three. Originally, the balls used at Wimbledon were white, but were changed to the iconic yellow in 1986 after umpires complained they had difficulty seeing them.


Around 28,000 kg of strawberries are consumed during the Wimbledon fortnight together with more than 7,000 litres of fresh cream. To ensure they are completely fresh, strawberries are picked the day before being served and arrive at Wimbledon at 5.30a.m where inspected before being served.

10.Prize money

The overall prize fund has risen 10.8% in three years to £25m (€31m). The singles champion this year will receive £ 1.76 million (€2.22) while the first round losers will get £27,000 (€34,000). In 1968 when prize money was first awarded at Wimbledon, the winner received £26,150 (€33,007). It was only in 2007 that the prize money for male and female tennis players was equalised after campaigns from female players.


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