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The Draw: 30 June

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Wednesday, 29 June 2016 13:18 PM BST
Bright ideas to fill time when it rains
Into every Wimbledon Fortnight a little drizzle must fall, but there is still plenty to do at the All England Club READ MORE

Rain. It happens. But dark clouds have glorious silver linings in SW19.

While a rain shower presses the pause button on the business of tennis on all courts other than Centre Court, it does provide an opportunity to get the most out of an exploration of the All England Club. And remember, a tiny bit of precipitation is an integral part of the Wimbledon experience and commemorated by souvenirs in the Shop – a china mug decorated with racket and brolly motifs, for instance, and a Links of London silver charm representing an umbrella in iconic club colours.

So, arm yourself with a summery Pimm’s or a mini-bottle of Champagne Lanson in a bright yellow tennis ball jacket, and read our top tips for when rain stops play:

1. Head to the official Shop.

The rain is a great excuse to buy an official Wimbledon brollie available full-size (£25) and in super-mini version (£12). Every tennis-loving fan should have one.

 2. Under the shelter of your umbrella, take time to absorb the history of The Championships.

Start at the statue of Fred Perry, which is set on a plinth on the northeastern corner of Centre Court opposite Gate 4. The tribute to the 1954, 1955 and 1956 champion is the first thing you see when you emerge from the Museum. As per Fred Perry’s request, his ashes are interred beneath the tribute.

3. Walk along the front of the All England Clubhouse, noting the bust of 1977 ladies singles champion Virginia Wade, and consider the relevance of the number 77 in British tennis success.  

The first tournament took place in 1877, Wade won in the centenary year (also the Queen’s Silver Jubilee) and Andy Murray’s feat in becoming the first home champion in 77 years was achieved on the 7th day of the 7th month.

4. Find the plaque on Court 18 which commemorates the longest tennis match in history, between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut.

The match took on huge emotional as well as historic significance for the players; it also took 11 hours and five minutes to complete, a total of 183 games over three days. The scoreline was 6-4, 3-6, 6-7(7), 7-6(3), 70-68 in Isner’s favour.

5. When you walk back from Court 18 between Centre Court and the Millennium Building, you are strolling down St Mary’s Walk – so-called because you see the spire of St Mary’s Church on the hill in the distance.

The spire is the landmark in the panorama shots used by the BBC to introduce Championship coverage.  It has existed since the 12th century and may be the church recorded in the Domesday Book, William the Conqueror’s great survey of 1086.

6. All hail the Centre Court roof, a marvel of engineering.

This is the eighth year we have tennis action to enjoy even when it is raining thanks to the retractable roof that was introduced in 2009. The concertina-style roof—which allows it to be folded into a compressed area when it's not being used—is made of a translucent water-proof fabric. It takes about 10 minutes to close and another 20-30 minutes for the air management system to ensure that the grass doesn't become slippery.

7. Impress your friends with this factoid:

Aorangi Park, once leased to the New Zealand Sports and Social Club, gets its name from the Maori name for Mount Cook, meaning 'Cloud in the Sky'.

8. Admire the garden sculptures.

How many can you clock before play resumes? There is the Allium, a blown glass and steel sculpture of the distinctive pom-pom flower, outside the Competitors’ Entrance. The same artist, Jenny Pickford, also created the Wild Flower sculpture outside the Competitors’ Practice Facilities at Aorangi Park. Also there, is the fun giant living tennis ball grown from a plant called sedum.

 9. Keen photographers will cheer the rain.

It ensures the best possible picture of the Alchemilla mollis plant – used profusely throughout the grounds and remarkable for the arresting way in which it catches droplets of water within its scooped leaves. As the sun emerges, watch how the water drops sparkle in the sun.

10. And finally, return to the Shop, which boasts an enormous variety of towels:

Championship towels, Sport towels, Beach towels, Guest towels, Children's Bath towels and packs of Face Cloths – all in vibrant Wimbledon colours and motifs.

Follow the latest news and scores from Wimbledon 2016 on or Apple TV,  or download the official IOS or Android apps for smartphone and tablet

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