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Wimbledon 2021 FAQs and facts: Your bizarre, weird and wonderful questions answered

Don't spend another summer wondering what 'love' is or why tennis balls are stored in the fridge – we've got all the answers you need.

Published: Thursday, 24th June 2021 at 1:49 pm

We can't help it, we're an inquisitive bunch at, and every year we get slightly distracted from our Wimbledon viewing as we ponder some of the big questions in tennis.


No, we're not talking about when Roger Federer will retire, or why Rafael Nadal isn't playing in this year's Championships.

Instead, we find ourselves contemplating the true colour of the ball (is it yellow or green?) and wondering why Wimbledon fans are quite so obsessed with strawberries and cream.

This year, we just want to sit back and enjoy the five setters without these questions whirring around in our brains, so we've done a bit of digging. Keep reading for some very illuminating answers.

Can Wimbledon players go to the toilet during a match?

Wimbledon rules permit players to "request permission to leave the court for a reasonable time for a toilet break", but this must be taken during a set break and cannot be used for any other purpose.

Male and female players are allowed two toilet breaks per match, while doubles teams must share their allocated number of breaks.

The rulebook also states "the nearest assigned bathroom should be used" and that a line judge must accompany the player to ensure they "do not use the break for any other purpose".

Why are Wimbledon tennis balls kept in the fridge?

Don't you hate it when you're searching for that jar of mayo at the back of the fridge and you can't see past the Wimbledon tennis balls spilling out?

Throughout history, fridges have been deployed at the side of courts to maintain the consistency of bounce in every ball while they're waiting to be used.

The 53,000 balls used at the tournament will be kept at 20 degrees until it's their time to shine.

How loudly do Wimbledon players grunt?

Maria Sharapova would commonly tip over 100 decibels on court, while Monica Seles and Jimmy Connors were the earliest known pioneers of 'The Grunt'.

How much will strawberries and cream cost at Wimbledon?

A portion of 10 strawberries (minimum) and a lashing of cream will set you back £2.50 at the Championships.

The strawberries are always Grade 1 from farms in Kent, and they are picked at 4:00am on the day they are sold and scoffed at Wimbledon.

More than 166,000 portions were sold during the two-week 2018 tournament – but wait, why are we eating them at Wimbledon?

Why do people eat strawberries and cream at Wimbledon?

The delicious snack was served to 200 punters at the 1877 Championships and the tradition is still going strong more than 140 years later.

But the origin story of strawberries and cream allegedly dates back to 1509, when Thomas Wolsey – a powerful figure around the time of King Henry XIII – served up the treat to guests at a banquet.

Wolsey's own palace also boasted tennis courts, where staff would be deployed to bring strawberries and cream to guests. A simple luxury fit for a king.

What length is the grass on Centre Court?

The first cut in preparation for the Championships shaves the lawn down to 25mm, before the winter sees another reduction down to around 13mm.

However, this figure can only be reached without trimming off more than a third of the original length at a time, to avoid weakening the individual grass blades.

The surfaces are then cut by 1mm per week from approximately nine weeks before the tournament, down to the optimum playing height of 8mm.

In the four weeks leading up to the tournament, the grass is mowed every day to ensure the 8mm length is adhered to. Think about that next time you mow the lawn!

Can I play on Centre Court?

No. Sorry.

Do ball boys and girls get paid?

In 2015, the going rate for two weeks work at the tournament was £200 per ball boy or girl, and they were also allowed to keep the snazzy Ralph Lauren tennis uniforms worn during the Championships.

Local school headmasters are asked to select their best and brightest, and 700 applicants are narrowed down to around 250 hard-working, unsung heroes.

Why do players wear white at Wimbledon?

The original reason for cracking out the tennis whites was to prevent sweat patches prominently showing through – a disaster for the social elite types back in the day.

The tradition stuck and a fresh set of rules in 2014 stated that only "a single trim of colour" no wider than 10mm is allowed on the neckline, sleeves or even underwear.

This is a rule the All England Club takes seriously – Roger Federer's trainers were banned from the tournament in 2013 because the soles were orange.

Are tennis balls yellow or green?

When it comes to the colour of tennis balls, we're inclined to fall in line with whatever Roger Federer things.

"They're yellow, right?" said Federer in 2018. Who are we to argue?

How long does it take to close the Centre Court roof?

The roof itself is a speedy mover, switching from open to closed (and vice versa) in just 10 minutes.

However, a 45-minute stoppage may be required while the air-conditioning system acclimatises the arena to become an indoor venue.

What is inside a tennis ball?

A kinder egg toy? Strawberries and cream? Pimm's? A total vacuum? A wormhole?

Nah, it's just air inside a tennis ball. Or nitrogen, for those who want to inflate tennis balls for longer.

What TFL zone is Wimbledon in?

Wimbledon sits in Zone 3. More than 12 million people pile through the barriers each year, with many heading to the Championships.

Why is there a pineapple on top of the Wimbledon trophy?

You've never noticed before, have you? Legitimately, nobody really knows.

In 2017, a spokesperson for the Wimbledon Museum told that the origin story of the immortalised golden fruit contains “very few facts”, though one reasonable explanation is that pineapples were once a rarity, a sign of honour and wealth.

What is love?

Pop sensations Haddaway didn't understand in 1993 and now 26 years later we're still struggling to find the answer.

The Oxford Dictionary saw the phrase 'for love' as "without stakes being wagered" and that could result in 'love' replacing 'zero/nothing'.

A French myth suggests love came from l'ouef, the word for egg, and that a zero on the scoreboard resembles an egg. We're not buying it.


Wimbledon coverage airs daily on BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Red Button, starting Monday 28th June at 10:30am. To find out what else is on, check out our TV Guide.


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