Strawberries in the rain but no Pimms at Wimbledon

LONDON Thu Aug 2, 2012 3:05am EDT

Women drink a traditional Pimm's Cup cocktail as they wait for the start of the second race during Ladies Day at Epsom Racecourse in southern England June 3, 2011. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

Women drink a traditional Pimm's Cup cocktail as they wait for the start of the second race during Ladies Day at Epsom Racecourse in southern England June 3, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett

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LONDON (Reuters) - The Olympics have banned Pimms from Wimbledon, prompting British number one Andy Murray's mother Judy to joke: "No point going then."

But the genteel matrons of middle England who go to the grand slam tournament every summer need not panic - you can still purchase a traditional punnet of Wimbledon strawberries and cream and enjoy them huddled in the rain.

"Pimms is not a sponsor (at the London 2012 Games) but we do have a cocktail called Number One. It is very refreshing," venue media manager John Dolan assured Wimbledon diehards.

Wimbledon at the Olympics offers a very different fan base from the middle-class battalions who pour into the tournament each year from the home counties around London.

Young Londoner Elizabeth Attah said on her debut admiring its hallowed courts, "I have watched Wimbledon on television all my life. I love it here. It's all going swimmingly."

But 79-year-old Wimbledon veteran Cecilia Goodall was not so sure about all the Olympic razzmatazz.

"It is totally different," she said. "I am an old lady and easily shocked. There are far too many rules about bags and taking water in."

The crowd at the Olympic tournament is dotted with women cradling babes in arms. When a baby got particularly vociferous in one match, the umpire politely asked her: "Can you quieten the wee one?"

Wimbledon's "predominantly white" dress code has been abandoned by the technicolour Olympians.

On Number One Court, Serena Williams looked all fourth of July in patriotic red, white and blue stars and stripes.

On Centre Court, world number one Roger Federer celebrated Swiss National Day in red shirt, red bandana and white shorts.

SPECIAL ATMOSPHERE

Up on Henman Hill - named after the former British number one Tim Henman - Swiss tourists Manuel Frey and Michael Spati were reveling in watching Federer on the giant screen. Their barbecue table was proudly bedecked in Swiss flags.

In London for a week at the Olympics, Spati, 24, said: "It is a special atmosphere. We are loving it."

When the crowd get behind local favorites like Murray and Laura Robson, they are much louder than the fans who cheered Murray in his Wimbledon final against Federer last month.

"Seeing this nationalistic fervor is unbelievable," said venue manager Dolan. It was more like the roar that greets the players in Davis Cup matches.

You can forget the rules printed in the Wimbledon tournament program every summer - spectators are told not to make any noise in rallies, not to clap a double fault nor net cord.

The Olympics is much more raucous and spontaneous.

This is certainly not the atmosphere of an English country garden party. It is all a far cry from the elegant images of the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club when crinolined Victorian ladies swung their croquet mallets and the gentlemen brandished wooden rackets.

Seven-times Wimbledon champion Federer sought to allay the fears of the summertime regulars.

"I think it's a nice combination," he said. "We know that Wimbledon will be Wimbledon again next year. But right now it's the Olympic Games."

(Editing by Matt Falloon)

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