It’s one of the greatest British sporting traditions that we’re all so proud of. Yes, it’s Wimbledon season once more, so time to dust off your tennis racquet, iron your whites and feast on strawberries and cream as we honour all of those very special traditions you’ll only find in SW19
Strawberries and cream, pristine whites and the thwack of a tennis ball. Our quintessential British summer just wouldn’t be the same without the excitement and oohs and aahs of our annual Wimbledon tennis championships. And while the on-court action has us all glued to our TV screens, it’s the charming, longstanding traditions that make this sporting event so thoroughly captivating for everyone who visits.
I adore the all-white dress code for starters. And while you might see Henman, Djokovic, the Williams’ sisters et al in a multi-coloured get-up in other global tennis comps, for the tennis courts at Wimbledon, the rules state that players must dress ‘almost entirely in white’. It’s a rule that’s been around since the 1800s and the Wimbledon crew are sticklers for tradition. So that means no ‘off white or cream’, coloured trims should be no wider than a centimetre and even the players’ underwear has to be white. Rules are rules, as they say…and the likes of Anna Kournikova have come a cropper in the past when in 2002 she was told to replace her black shorts with a pair of white ones borrowed from her coach.
Munching on strawberries and cream is another long held Wimbledon tradition. No one knows why for certain, but strawberries are in season at the time of the tournament, and in Victorian England the soft crimson fruit had become a fashionable snack. It all adds up to the quaint ‘English-ness’ of Wimbledon and the charming mix of emerald green lawns, players in white and baskets of strawberries conjure up a delightful image of playing tennis in an English garden (with the odd spot of royalty thrown in for good measure). And while we’re on the subject of royal-ness, there’s one tradition that has changed with the times: players no longer need to bow or curtsey to the Royal Box on the Centre Court unless the Queen or the Prince of Wales is in attendance.
If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a couple of tickets (or are willing to do an overnight queueing marathon with the rest of the hardcore tennis fans) you might just spy some of Bridgman’s benches which have been in residence next to Court No 1 for around 15 years now. But if you are watching all the action from home, it’s simpler to get in the sporting mood with a Wimbledon get-together. Invite friends and family around for a sunny high tea and serve heaps of sweet, plump strawberries in pretty glass bowls piled high with generous splodges of thick cream. Lemonade on the lawn is a must between sets along with dainty sandwiches and mini sponges laid out on on pastel coloured cake stands.
Did someone say out?
Are you planning to visit Wimbledon this year? Or are you holding your very own Wimbledon-style soiree at home?