The Championships at Wimbledon is the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world. Each July, a glorious corner of south west London comes alive with tennis players and sporting fans, who travel from across the world to be part of Wimbledon. The tennis tournament has taken place here since 1877. The only major Grand Slam played on grass tennis courts, the tournament has a particularly green and verdant feeling. With matches taking place across 18 tennis courts – as well as a green space currently known as ‘Murray Mound’, where spectators watch the big screens together – the atmosphere at Wimbledon is like nowhere else in the world.
The Wimbledon tennis championships is home to a number of very particular traditions. One of these is the consumption of strawberries and cream at the event. The combination of strawberries and cream was started by the Tudors, as this was a way of serving a delicious but easy-to-make dessert at lavish feasts. Strawberries and cream were served at the very first Wimbledon tournament in 1877, and it’s a tradition that has certainly stood the test of time. Indeed, an estimated 34,000 kg and 10,000 litres of cream are eaten at the two week event at Wimbledon each year!
Another fascinating Wimbledon tradition relates to the colours of the tournament. Traditional Wimbledon colours are green and purple, and much of the tournament’s merchandise can be found in these colours. Ball boys and girls, linesmen and umpires also previously dressed in uniforms of these colours, but this changed in 2006 when Ralph Lauren designed new navy blue and cream uniforms. Tennis players themselves wear crisp white clothing – another long standing rule at Wimbledon – although some colour accents are permitted.
Wimbledon is also traditionally a royal affair. Centre Court has a Royal Box and throughout the tournament, various members of the royal family fill the box to watch the most exciting matches of the championships. Tennis players were previously required to bow or curtsey to royal family members sitting in the Royal Box when they entered and left the court. However, this rule now only applies if the Prince of Wales or Her Majesty the Queen are present.
This tennis season, we celebrate British traditions with some royal flair at The Athenaeum, with our Wimbledon Afternoon Tea. Many of the ingredients in our Wimbledon Afternoon Tea have been sourced from Royal Warrant holders – food producers who also supply goods to members of the royal family. This includes tea from Darvilles – Windsor’s oldest business and the tea supplier of the royal household.
Our delicate finger sandwiches incorporate the finest English traditions, from our special cured smoked salmon and horseradish cream cheese, to Burford brown egg and watercress bridge rolls. Soak up the flavours of Wimbledon in our pastries too, which include our handcrafted English strawberry and Jersey cream creation especially for the occasion. Finished off with other delicacies, from organic lemon macaroons to home baked scones with strawberry jam, the tastes and traditions of Wimbledon have well and truly arrived at The Athenaeum.
That’s game, set and match for your taste buds this Wimbledon tennis season!