Wimbledon’s on, Whether Weather Plays Ball or Not

Sabrina Dufour
July 01, 2019

We’re all set for Wimbledon at the All England Club. If you’re game, here are some fun data points to get you in the spirit.

Bring Your Brolly

This is the 142nd time that the tournament has been played. Only seven tournaments have completely escaped the rain since 1877. Thirty two days of the tournament have been rained off since then. In 1985, a summer storm saw an inch of rain fall on Wimbledon in just twenty minutes.1

To combat inclement weather, in 2009 the retractable roof was introduced to Centre Court: 7500 Wimbledon umbrellas would be needed to provide the equivalent rain cover.2

Bring Your Coat

The chilliest tournament took place in 1999, when audiences shivered at 4.9°C. 1 Sales of ice creams were down that year.

Bring Your Parasol.

In complete contrast, last year’s tournament took place in a heatwave. Monday 2nd July 2018 was the second hottest opening day in the history of the tournament, with the dial hitting 29°C. The hottest day recorded at Wimbledon was 1st July 2015 when the mercury recorded a scorching 35.7°C, while the heatwave of 1976 served up average temperatures of 30.8°C.3

Last year, Wimbledon’s head groundsman had to confirm that the blades of grass on centre court were still measuring the standard 8mm in height after Novak Djokovic complained that the heatwave had led to the grass growing too long and altering the playing surface.

All Washed Down 

Apart from rain, the liquids most commonly associated with Wimbledon are Pimm’s, Robinsons, champagne and tea. During the thirteen days of the 2018 Tournament, Wimbledon staff served 303,277 glasses of Pimm’s, 21,917 bottles of champagne and 307,277 cups of tea and coffee, accompanied by 110, 225 scones, topped off with 9,848 litres of cream. 4 Wimbledon records show that 473,169 people attended the Tournament in 2018. For fans who couldn’t make it in person, the BBC recorded a cumulative audience of 26 million viewers, while America’s ESPN recorded a cumulative 29.42 million viewers. Wimbledon has 11.5 million followers on social media.4

More Power to Their Elbow

In 2010 a ball served by US player, Taylor Dent, clocked 148 miles per hour and became the fastest recorded Wimbledon serve. In 2014, Czech player, Jiri Vesely, sent a ball over the Wimbledon net at a blistering 143 miles an hour. In 2015 Wimbledon fans watched his compatriot, Lucie Hradecka, serve a ball at the speed of an intercity train: 125 mph. That speed was matched by Serena Williams’ serve in 2018. However, her sister, Venus Williams, holds the women’s record for the fastest Wimbledon serve after rocketing a ball to 128 mph in 2008.4,6

During hotter weather, tennis professionals ask their stringers to increase the tension on their racquets so that balls fly faster. The average racquet string is pulled to a tension of 50 lbs, but individual players have their own preferences. Jamaican German player, Dustin Brown, asks for his stings to be tightened to 80lbs.7,8

You’re Stringing Me Along

No really, Apollo Leisure, which provides Wimbledon’s official on-site stringing service, reported that during the course of the 2018 tournament, it strung 4503 racquets and used 33.5 miles of racquet string. That would stretch from Dover to Calais, or from Wimbledon to Reading, Berkshire.7,8

That’s Hard to Swallow

Not as hard as the number of strawberries consumed by tennis fans. Based on previous years’ data, Wimbledon expects to sell 27,000 kilograms of strawberries during the Tournament: weighing the equivalent of two London Routemaster double decker buses, two hundred and seventeen “London Good Delivery” gold bars, or 467,937.61 tennis balls.9,10,11

Worth Their Weight?

The International Tennis Federation standard states that regulation tennis balls must weigh between 56.0 grams and 59.4 grams. Competition balls dropped from a height of 254 cm must be able to bounce back to a height of between 135 cm to 147 cm to meet Tournament standard.12

We hope you enjoyed these fun facts and that you’ll join us in seeing how data shapes the 2019 contest over the next two weeks.


Sources:

  1. Legg-Tero, Rose. “Come Rain or Shine: A History of Wimbledon Weather,” Opus Energy, July 2018
  2. "Retractable Roof on Wimbledon Tennis Stadium," Design Build Network, October 2017
  3. Brown, Luke. "Wimbledon 2018 Weather Forecast: Tournament on Course to Be Hottest Ever With Suspended Play a Possibility," The Independent, July 2018
  4. "Facts and Figures on Frequently Asked Topics About the Championships," Wimbledon.com
  5. "Fastest Recorded Tennis Serves," Wikipedia
  6. Cheung, Tina. "Speed Of The Fastest Tennis Ball," The Physics Factbook, 2001
  7. Stokel-Walker, Chris. "The Secret Army of Racquet Techies Behind Wimbledon's Star Players," Wired, July 2018
  8. "Report on Wimbledon 2018," Apollo Leisure, July 2018
  9. "How heavy is 1,000 kilograms?," Bluebulb Projects: The Measure of Things
  10. "Thirteen Super Facts About Strawberries," BBC, September 2005
  11. "New Routemaster," Wikipedia
  12. International Tennis Federation. "ITF-Approved Tennis Balls, Classified Surfaces & Recognised Courts 2019 - A Guide to Products and Test Methods," January 2019

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