All England Club bosses on Thursday made sure that the iconic strawberry – edible image of The Championships – will not be missed this COVID-19 year by donating 200 punnets of the Kent-grown delicacy to the county’s health service, the NHS.
The event which should have been in its first week now but for the worldwide virus crisis which forced tournament cancellation some months ago is making sure that the spirit of the grass-court Grand Slam lives on in this one-off health-crisis situation.
The berries were donated to mark the 72nd birthday of the beloved single-payer health service, which is free to the population.
Wimbledon called the gift “a small gesture of appreciation for the dedicated service of the NHS during what would have been The Championships Fortnight.”
During a normal tournament, fans go through around 30,000 kg of strawberries and 7,000 litre of cream to pour on top.
Club staff were reportedly put to work hulling approximately 26,000 the tasty treats in preparation for presentation to London front-line NHS staff. “Since the cancellation of The Championships, we have been very focused on doing what we can to help those in our local community who are undergoing hardship as a result of the coronavirus crisis,” club CEO Richard Lewis said.
“Our staff have been particularly keen to do what they can to help during this time and we were pleased that so many of them volunteered to take part in the strawberry hulling operation during the Wimbledon Fortnight.”
The link between Wimbledon and strawberries goes back nearly 150 years, when they were first served to around 200 spectators at the inaugural edition of Wimbledon in 1877 at the Worple road venue.
The fruit had long been a summer treat for Victorians as a pleasing accompaniment to afternoon tea.