Qualifying begins: 26 June
The Draw: 30 June
Pre-event Press Conferences: 1 & 2 July
Order of Play: 2 July
Championships begin: 3 July
COME BACK FOR LIVE SCORES & LIVE BLOG FROM 26 JUNE
There is surely no more aptly named tree to feature at the world’s most prestigious tennis tournament than the Acer – especially as Head Gardener Martyn Falconer selected it to mark the corners of the outside courts. For the Acer Palmatum not only has a smashing name, it comes in upright or weeping forms, thus mimicking the contrasting potential demeanours of the player on the receiving end of the world’s most ferocious serves.
The Acer, also known as the Japanese Maple, is a small deciduous tree notable for its grace, beautiful deep copper-purple foliage and exciting autumnal colour burst. A slow grower, the Acer is perfect for small or ornamental planting spaces. It is also a popular choice for the art of Bonsai.
The Acer is a go-to tree for prettiness, but don’t be fooled by those delicate leaves fluttering with lacy appeal or that easy-growing temperament. In tune with its environment around the grass courts of Wimbledon, it is known in gardening circles for being ultra competitive. A shallow, fibrous root system means it resents competition from all other plants. Like a star player among a sea of fans, it must on no account be crowded.
Just as the list of competitors draws from a wide international range, so the Acer contributes on the global interest front. The species first reached England in 1820, but has been in cultivation for more than three hundred years in Japan. Sometimes called the mountain maple, it is found in Asia at altitudes up to 1,100 metres. It is also indigenous to forested areas in Korea and China and as far south as Taiwan.
The many forms of maple come with lots of cultural associations. As a so-called tonewood, maple is used for numerous musical instruments from drum kits and woodwind stalwarts like the bassoon to all the members of the string family and even the necks of electric guitars – all those instruments that feature on the All England Club’s daily jazz performances at the Champagne Bar.
It also has wide-ranging sporting associations being the wood of choice for bowling pins, bowling alley lanes, pool cue shafts, baseball bats and the core material in the limbs of a recurve bow in archery.
Back to tennis. In the familiar ‘maple’ shape of the Acer’s leaves dotted around the grounds, Canadian players such as Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard might see some subtle form of inspiration and support. Winning margins can come down to that extra 0.001 per cent of psychological advantage. The Acer count could be crucial.