The Wonderful World of Wimbledon

June 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

Wimbledon is in full swing: strawberries and cream and crowds of people in ponchos shivering in the rain on Henman Hill – what could be more British?!

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Like all sports, tennis is all based on numbers. But, unlike sports like football, there isn’t a simple one-nil scoring system; instead we have scores like thirty-love and deuce. So, where did it all come from?

There are mixed opinions out there. The most common explanation is that it comes from Medieval France, when they used a clock face to help them with scoring. They would move the hands to 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, then 60 when they won the game. When deuce came in, the 45 changed to 40 – they would then move the hand to 50 when there was an advantage, then 60 to win the game.

Deuce comes from the French term “à deux”, meaning “at two” (in other words, meaning they need two more points to win). And Love comes from the French term “l’oeuf” meaning “the egg” because a zero looks like an egg.

I’m afraid our British tradition looks decidedly French . . . !

But here are some other fascinating numbers from the world of Wimbledon:

  • The fastest serve recorded at Wimbledon was from Taylor Dent in 2010. It was 148mph – that’s an incredibly 66 metres per second!
  • An average of 28 000 kg of strawberries are eaten at Wimbledon during the fortnight . . . . washed down with 7 000 litres of fresh cream!
  • The longest match was played by John Isner and Nicolas Mahut in 2010. It lasted for 11 hours and 5 minutes and was played over 3 days. Their final tie-break went to 70-68. Bet they needed a foot rub after that!
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