London is the center of the tennis world for the next few weeks as the sport's top players and up-and-coming stars compete in the 2013 Wimbledon Championships. The tournament began this morning, and thousands flocked the All-England Club to watch reigning champion and 17-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer open up his title defense on Centre Court.
In its 136th year, Wimbledon is tennis’s oldest and most prestigious tournament, having hosted some of the longest and most intense matches in history. The 2010 match between American John Isner and Nicolas Mahut of France lasted 11 hours and spanned several days before Isner won 70-68.
Here are 10 more fun facts you probably don’t know about tennis' premier contest:
MitaKlima from Austria is the youngest player to ever compete in the tournament at 13 years old, a record that has stood for 106 years
The shortest player ever was Gertrude Hoahing, who stood 4 ft. 9 in. tall.
Wimbledon adopted yellow tennis balls in 1986 with the advent of color television; before that, white balls were used
Over 54,250 tennis balls were used during the 2010 Wimbledon Championships
Nearly 500,000 people will attend the tournament over its two-week period
Until 2003, players were expected to bow or curtsey before the Royal Box. Now, players only need to bow or curtsey when the Queen of England or Prince is on Centre Court
In 1998, Yevgeny Kafelnikov’s match with Mark Philippoussis was interrupted when a mouse ran onto the court during play
To ward off pigeons, Wimbledon uses a Harris Hawk called Hamish who flies over the grounds at nine am each morning
The fastest ever serve at Wimbledon was 148 mph in 2010 by Taylor Dent of the USA in his match against Novak Djokavic
Only nine left-handed players have won a Wimbledon Singles Championship
The loudest known "grunt" came from Maria Sharapova during the 2009 tournament, recorded at about 105 decibels – the equivalent of standing three feet from a motorcycle
Photos: Clive Brunkskill/Getty Images (Federer and Sharapova), Dan Kitwood/Getty Images