June 9, 2014
What is the Wimbledon Trophy made of? Do the players get to keep them? What is their history and significance within the tennis world? Read on to find out.
Wimbledon is just around the corner, which means a fortnight of intense sporting prowess and sportsmanship. The winners of The Lawn Tennis Championships Wimbledon 2014 will walk away with their titles, with the prize money in their pockets and will get to raise the Wimbledon trophy on Centre Court. These trophies represent the pinnacle of the tennis world and you have seen them lifted over the heads of legends including Björn Borg, Pat Cash, Roger Federer, Virginia Wade and the Williams sisters.
What do the trophies look like?
The Gentlemen’s’ Singles Championship trophy has a long and distinctive history. First presented in 1888 by the All England Club, the Challenge Cup it was not the original trophy. It replaced the Field Cup which was used from 1877-1883 for the first Lawn Tennis Championships. The Gentlemen’s cup is made of silver gilt and stands around 18 inches high with a diameter of 7.5 inches and is inscribed with the following:
“The All England Lawn Tennis Club Single Handed Champion of the World”
The Ladies’ Singles Plate (1864) is the Venus Rosewater Dish and was first presented in 1886. It is one of the most recognisable trophies in the sports world. It is a salver made of sterling silver and partly gilded. The Rosewater dish was originally made for 50 guineas in 1864 by Elkington & Co. of Birmingham. It’s a direct copy of a similar dish held in the Louvre museum and the decorative theme on this trophy is mythology.
Do the winners get to keep them?
Originally, trophies were given to the winners to keep but when William Renshaw won the Men’s title three times in a row, the AELTC decided that a new trophy would be created which would remain the property of the club. The AELTC spent 100 guineas on the new trophy. Adjusted for inflation, that would be a staggering £10,000 pounds today! The names and dates of all winners are engraved around the bowl. However, in 2009 there was no more space for winners, so a plinth was added with a silver band to accommodate more names.
Are there any mysteries surrounding the trophies?
Strangely, there is also a pineapple-type shape adorning the top of the Challenge Cup and no one is certain what this is supposed to represent. A few theories exist and two of the most popular explanations are the following:
1. It represents an old Navy tradition of Captains putting a pineapple on the gateposts of their home when they return from sea.
2. Back in the 17th Century pineapples were rare and seen as sought-after commodities. Possessing one gave the owner a high social status. Whilst Pineapples are two-a-penny now, owning the one on-top of the Challenger Cup is still as cherished as it was back then.
And what about the doubles?
The Gentlemen’s Doubles Trophy is a silver cup which was donated by Oxford University Lawn Tennis Club in C19th.
The Ladies’ Doubles Trophy is called The Duchess of Kent Challenge Cup. It was donated to the Club back 1949 by the President of the All England Club at the time, Princess Marina.
Finally, the Mixed Doubles (also a silver challenge cup) was donated to the AELTC by the family of doubles winner Sydney Smith, who won the title twice in 1902 and again in 1906.