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The men play for Wimbledon’s pineapple

They make their appearances over the final weekend of The Championships and are highly prized – the five Wimbledon Trophies, one of which proudly displays an unlikely pineapple on the top – but, sadly, will not be on show this year.

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same… Rudyard Kipling

Instead, a visit to wimbledon.com gives fans a selection of round-by-round re-told matches to create ‘The Greatest Championships’, and are well worth a look for those interested in its history, as are the magnificent trophies they play for.

Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘If…’ is inscribed above the entrance to the Centre Court, waiting to greet those who begin the battle for one of world’s most famous and treasured trophies, The Gentlemen’s Singles Trophy, first presented by the All England Club in 1887.

It was replaced by the Field Cup (1877-1883) and the Challenge Cup (1884-1886), which were both won by William Renshaw after twice winning the singles title three times in succession.

The AELTC spent 100 guineas to buy the current trophy, and as The Club was not prepared to risk losing a third Cup to a future three-times Champion, the decision was taken that the new trophy would never become the property of the winner.

The Cup, which is made of silver gilt, stands 18 inches high, has a diameter of 7.5 inches, and one of its quirky features is the carving of a pineapple on top.

Nobody is one-hundred percent sure why the trophy features the pineapple.

A spokesperson for the Wimbledon Museum has said in the past: “In the 17th century pineapples were impossible to grow in the UK and they had to be imported, so being presented with one at a feast was seen as a great compliment.

“You might have seen pineapples being used on gateposts of stately homes as you travel around the UK. It’s because of their rarity.”

Why not a strawberry, the traditional fruit of Wimbledon?

Strawberries are a fairly recent tradition, as it happens – a bit like the selling of jugs of Pimms – both more of revenue earners these days.

The pineapple, however, is there for a reason because it was a highly sought-after commodity.

They were very rare in England, incredibly expensive, and therefore became the crowning fruit of only the most lush feasts; a symbol of significant wealth.

If you attended a dinner party back in the 1600s and there was pineapple on the table, you could consider yourself very honoured indeed.

In reality, no-one really knows what significance the pineapple on the trophy has, although another theory is that it is related to the tradition of British Royal Navy captains placing a pineapple atop their gateposts on returning home from sea.

The inscription on the Cup reads: ‘The All England Lawn Tennis Club Single Handed Championship of the World’.

That’s right, ‘single handed’… it is only in the early 1980s that a double-handed backhand was first observed.

Most were taught the traditional Eastern Forehand grip, not one of those extreme grips which the likes of Rafael Nadal and many others demonstrate in today’s game.

Around the bowl are engraved the dates and names of the Champions, evoking memories of the rich heritage of Wimbledon.

In 2009, there being no space left to engrave the names of the Champions, a black plinth with an ornamented silver band was designed to accompany the Cup.

While they only get to hold the magnificent trophy for a few minutes on court after the final, when displaying it from the balcony and at the formal dinner, the Champions receive a three-quarter size replica of the Cup bearing the names of all past Champions (height 13.5 inches) to take home with them.


The Venus Rosewater Dish, presented to the winner of the Ladies’ Singles Championship

© AELTC/Thomas Lovelock

The Ladies’ Singles Trophy is a silver salver, sometimes referred to as the Rosewater Dish or Venus Rosewater Dish, which was first presented to the Champion when the challenge round was introduced in 1886.

The salver, which is made of sterling silver, partly gilded, is 18.75 inches in diameter, has a decorative mythological theme on it.

The central boss has a figure of Temperance, seated on a chest with a lamp in her right hand and a jug in her left, with various attributes such as a sickle, fork and caduceus (or wand) around her.

The four reserves on the boss of the dish each contain a classical god, together with elements.

The reserves around the rim show Minerva presiding over the seven liberal arts: astrology, geometry, arithmetic, music, rhetoric, dialectic and grammar, each with relevant attribute, while the rim of the salver has an ovolo moulding.

The Champions receive a three-quarter size replica of the Cup bearing the names of all past Champions (height 14 inches).

The Gentlemen’s Doubles Trophy is a silver challenge cup for the Gentlemen’s Pairs’ competition.

When the doubles moved to Wimbledon in 1884, the Oxford University Lawn Tennis Club presented the trophy to the All England Club.

The Ladies’ Doubles Trophy is an elegant silver cup and cover, known as The Duchess of Kent Challenge Cup, presented to the Club in 1949 by HRH The Princess Marina, President of the All England Club.

The Mixed Doubles Trophy is a silver challenge cup and cover presented to the All England Club by the family of the late S.H. Smith, who won the doubles title in 1902 and 1906, in partnership with the late F.L. Riseley.

The Championship trophies are displayed for several months of the year in the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum, which is also currently closed within the grounds of the All England Lawn Tennis Club due to the coronavirus pandemic.


2019 Wimbledon Men's singles champion Novak Djokovic (L) and Wimbledon Women's singles champion Romania's Simona Halep at the Champions Dinner

© Thomas Lovelock/AELTC/AFP via Getty Images



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