The Cultural Impact of Tennis

With an estimated 1.2 billion people either playing or watching worldwide, tennis has grown to become a deeply well-loved sport. But what has its overall impact been on our lifestyle, and what traditions has it set in place? Now Wimbledon 2018 is just around the corner, let’s take a look into the cultural impact tennis has had over the years. While you’re at it, why not check out the Wimbledon 2018 odds?

Strawberries and Cream

Whether you’re planning on buying tickets for Wimbledon 2018 or watching at home, one snack combo always springs to mind – the classic strawberries and cream. The winning combination made its first appearance at Wimble during the 1877 tournament, when only 200 spectators came to see the Championships.

Now, 10,000 litres of cream and 28,000 kg of strawberries are consumed at the tournament each year. But why exactly has this simple yet tasty treat become a staple at Wimbledon?

Well, according to historians, the tradition was started by Thomas Wolsey – Henry VIIs chief advisor and Lord Chancellor. It’s believed Thomas Wolsey first served strawberries and cream at Hampton Court in 1509, the grand palace he built for himself.

During this period, dairy products were viewed as peasant food to the upper class, so it’s not clear why Wolsey thought it’d be a good idea to serve them alongside strawberries to the King’s court. However, researchers have predicted it was down to convenience as Wolsey would entertain a minimum of 600 guests at a time.

Wolsey’s palace had its own tennis court, where staff would also serve strawberries and cream to spectators. It’s thought this is the exact reason why we now associate tennis with the iconic dish.

Advertisement-free Courts

Nowadays, almost every sports area, whether it’s an Olympic running track, a football field or a snooker match features advertisement of brands. Well, did you know that Wimbledon does not have any sponsored advertising around the courts?

As Wimbledon is held with high-esteem and class, the club has always sought to retain the unique image and character of the Championships by not smothering the grounds in advertisements. This just goes to show how traditional Wimbledon is! But that’s not to say there aren’t brands and advertisements associated with Wimbledon…

Fred Perry Shirts

 

Labelled as a tennis fashion staple, Fred Perry polo shirts have been sported by many players over the years; whether amateur of professional. However, did you know the Fred Perry brand was actually created by a professional tennis player?

Fred Perry (1909-1995) started his tennis career with table tennis and managed to win the championships at just 19 years old. Eventually, he switched to lawn tennis and managed to rack up three wins at Wimbledon between 1934-1936. He is widely regarded as one of tennis’ most influential players.

Aside from holding an incredibly successful tennis career, Perry was also responsible for creating one of Britain’s most recognised pieces of clothing – the Fred Perry tennis shirt.

After being approached by Tibby Wegner, an Australian inventor and footballer in the 1940s, the two teamed up to create a sports shirt which was made from white knitted cotton that also sported short sleeves and a buttoned placket.

The shirt was first launched at Wimbledon in 1952 and became an instant success. Furthermore, the brand’s logo, a laurel wreath, is based on the original symbol for Wimbledon. The infamous polo shirt is still sported at Wimbledon today.

Bursting into Song

The ground capacity for Wimbledon is 39,000 at any one time – that’s a lot of spectators! Despite the large crowds, being a spectator at Wimbledon differs completely to the likes of a rowdy football match. No loud music, excessive talking or cheering is allowed at Wimbledon under any circumstances. However, there was one Championship that offered a completely unique experience to the crowd…

During the 1996 Championships, rain heavily interrupted play on the Centre Court, which caused spectators to become irritated. Cliff Richard, who was watching from the royal box, was approached by court officials for an interview. During the interview, the court officials suggested to Cliff that he sing a song or two to keep the crowd entertained.

After obtaining approval from his PR manager Richard broke into an impromptu performance of his iconic song ‘Summer Holiday’. The performance ran for a total of 20 minutes and also featured his classics ‘Living Doll and ‘Congratulations’. Past tennis players, such as Pam Shriver, Gigi Fernández and Virginia Wade, who were sat in the royal box decided to join in as background singers.

At the time Cliff had no idea his performance was being televised by the BBC and made the front page for many major British newspapers the following day. As a retractable roof was fitted on the Centre Court in 2009, it’s unlikely such an incredible performance will happen again.