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Saturday, 8 July 2017 11:14 AM BST
Iconic images: The engraving of the trophy
A new series looking at some of Wimbledon's iconic photography READ MORE

As the Championships’ photographic manager, Bob Martin appreciates the finer details of the images which every day capture the essence of Wimbledon. In this series celebrating the best of the AELTC’s talent behind the lens, he nominates his Picture of the Day.


To a large extent, a Grand Slam is defined by its champions. Pictures that capture the key moments from court to the record books become the iconic images: the clenched fist of determination in the heat of play, the moment of realisation that victory is theirs, the name etched on trophy and gilded on to the honours board, the balcony presentation of the trophy to the public, and so on. This evocative image was taken by David Levenson on Saturday July 9, 2016, in the engraver's workshop underneath the Royal Box on Centre Court. It captures one such fleeting moment at Wimbledon – complete with the smudges from the fingers of the engraver before the trophy receives its triumphant polish before the presentation ceremony.

“The engraver is adding the name of Serena Williams to the base of the Venus Rosewater Dish in between her actually winning the title and the trophy being taken out on court for her to receive,” says Bob. “The challenge here is that we have to work very carefully because if we were to use flash, we'd blind the engraver. For me, it’s nice to see the name of the champion framed in between the hands of the engraver. In the limited depth of field, Williams is the only sharp bit.”

The image is the result of the ultimate in behind-the-scenes beavering, with both engraver and photographer working under pressure. David Levenson describes the circumstances: “The engraver works incredibly quickly. I was aiming for a very tight close-up shot showing his fingers at work.While he is working, I'm leaning over him, making sure I don't jog him or disturb him. For the picture to work I wanted to capture the immediacy of engraving the new champion’s name on to the trophy, so I wanted most of the name to have been engraved but not all of it. If it's just a couple of letters – MISS S. - it wouldn’t be instantly recognised as Serena Williams. It’s all about waiting for a few seconds.”

If I make a mistake, at least I have the option of tweaking it a bit afterwards

- David Levenson

The room used as the engraver’s workshop is tucked away in the clubhouse inner sanctum - behind the doors the players emerge from on to Centre Court - with no natural light. “The engraver directs a little spotlight on to the surface of the silver salver as he's engraving,” David explains. “Photographically, that creates a pool of light and everything around it seems very dark. I have to balance it out and do my final thinking about the composition in that very short space of time that the engraver is at work. If I miss the moment he’s engraving those last letters, I can't say, 'Can you do that again please?'”

It must feel like a great responsibility to be the one photographer present who will commit this moment to posterity. “I felt more for the engraver because I've not seen someone do that before. Imagine if his finger slipped!” says David. “If I make a mistake, at least I have the option of tweaking it a bit afterwards.”

Tennis buffs will know that the names of the winner of the ladies’ singles title were originally inscribed around the inside of the front of the salver that is a recognisable icon in women’s sport. The front is now full and the names of the new champions go on the reverse. To know that while musing on this image is to absorb a powerful sense of history.

Technical info: This image was shot on a Canon 5D Mark III, at a shutter speed of 1/125th of a second with an F2.8 aperture using a 24-70 lens set at 700mm and a sensitivity setting of 800 ASA.

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