Wimbledon has the distinction of being the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world. The greats of the sport -- Pete Sampras, Björn Borg, Martina Navratilova, and Billie Jean King -- played and won on its grass courts. Ten interesting tidbits make your next Wimbledon championships viewing party much more enjoyable.
H.M. Queen Elizabeth II is the patron of Wimbledon's venue. The All England Lawn Tennis Club controls all aspect of the tennis tournament. As outlined by the club's website, the original founding of the club took place in July 1868. With the queen as patron, H.R.H. the Duke of Kent is the club's president.
Only members may play the Wimbledon courts. Visitors may not play before or after the championships. The Centre and No. 1 Courts are off limits even to members. The FAQs state that a visitor aspiring to apply for membership must personally know at least four current All England Lawn Tennis Club members willing to sponsor the application.
Selection of ball boys and girls is a painstaking process. Behind the scenes information notes that trainers whittle down the usual pool of 700 applicants -- provided by participating schools -- to 250 trainees. The average age of the youngsters is 15.
350 umpires oversee the Wimbledon matches. Umpires information notes that each day, some 42 chair umpires take their places on the courts. While 70 umpires are overseas officials, 240 are British and members of the Association of British Tennis Officials.
Facilities Management Catering employs 1,800 staff members during Wimbledon events. The caterer states that anyone interested in working during the championships must be "bright, sociable and enthusiastic." Competition is stiff; usually the business receives 5,000 applications.
White clothing is preferred for competing athletes. Competition guidelines outline that players should avoid dark, bold, or fluorescent colors in favor of pastels and white.
This year's prize money totals £16,100,000. This is a marked increase from 2011's prize money pot totaling £14,600,000. Singles' champions stand to walk away with £1,150,000 each.
Wimbledon's grass court requires protection. The Telegraph reports that game officials installed an electric fence around Centre Court to prevent unauthorized persons from walking on the surface. Officials hope that the grass surface will endure through the Olympic Games later in the year.
Do not be surprised to see players curtsy. Royal box information notes that HRH the Duke of Kent discontinued the practice of curtsying the royal family, unless HM the Queen or HRH the Prince of Wales are present.
Tennis officials announced Wimbledon dates through 2015. In 2012, the championship takes place from June 25 to July 8. In 2013, the dates are June 24 to July 7. For 2014 tennis matches, visitors should plan on attending from June 23 to July 6. In 2015, the game dates are June 22 to July 5.