I came into this endeavor knowing nothing about tennis. Ok, that’s not true. Here’s what I knew; everybody wears white, there’s lots of grunting, and sometimes serious-looking children run at stray balls. There. That’s it.
For Jared’s birthday I decided to book a surprise “behind the scenes” tour of Wimbledon. He had no idea where we were going when we got on the underground that morning and was pretty excited when he figured it out. While the grounds are beautiful, I still have trouble conjuring an interest in glorified ping-pong. But alas, our tour guide was fabulous and I did learn a thing — or five.
1. During the championships, the grass is kept at 8mm for optimal play. It takes 15 months to prepare the grass before it is ready to be used. Touching it on a tour is akin to kicking a puppy.
2. No one has any idea why there’s a carving of a pineapple atop the Wimbledon cup. Theories suggest it has something to do with the tradition of British navy captains putting a pineapple on their gateposts after returning home from sea. But seriously, what is it doing there?
3. A hawk named Rufus is on the payroll. He’s there to scare off the pigeons who would inevitably poop on the premium seats, and you simply can’t have that. Apparently Rufus is such a big deal that he was actually kidnapped in 2012 (and then returned). Evidently, he also pecks out tiny tweets to his nearly 9,000 followers on twitter.
4. It would take 7,500 umbrellas to cover the same area as the retractable roof over centre court. File this under things you never needed to know.
5. There are 3,250 accredited members of the media that come and go during the championship. Clearly, one of them never makes deadline.
There. Now when tennis comes up at a social gathering – I can at least chime in with something about a bird named Rufus.