People just realising ‘willy waving’ reason Wimbledon trophy has pineapple on it

When it comes to fruit, most folk would associate Wimbledon with strawberries.

So why then, pray tell, is there a miniature golden pineapple adoring the lid of the men's singles trophy?

Eagle-eyed tennis fans may have noticed the juicy little adornment as successive winners such as Andy Murray and Roger Federer joyously kissed the coveted trophy.

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Much like winning, the pineapple was considered a rare and expensive phenomenon when the championships began on July 9, 1877.

Only the richest man had a pineapple on his table. And those who couldn’t afford to buy them outright often just rented them to carry around at parties to show off their wealth add good breeding.

As one tennis fan Tweeted, the fruit was used as "a bit of willy-waving" during Victorian times. Another simply noted: "Wimbledon trophy has a pineapple on it, cos it's mad posh."

History of the trophy

The oldest tennis tournament in the world, Wimbledon is also widely considered the most prestigious.

The gentlemen's singles trophy is a silver gilt cup, about about 47cm in height and 19cm in diameter, bearing the inscription: "All England Lawn Tennis Club Single Handed Championship of the World".

Between 1877 and 1883, The Field Cup was used to celebrate the winners, followed by The Challenge Cup.

But after losing the first two cups to previous winners, it was decided that the new trophy would remain in the All England Club museum. These days champion receives a three-quarter size replica.

A spokesperson for the Wimbledon Museum revealed their theory: "In the 17th century pineapples were impossible to grow in the UK and they had to be imported, so being presented with one at a feast was seen as a great compliment.

"You might have seen pineapples being used on gateposts of stately homes as you travel around the UK. It's because of their rarity."

It was considered symbol of hospitality

It is also possible the scaly fruit was deemed a symbol of generosity and hospitality.

It became popular with artists throughout the 1700s and 1800s and featured in paintings, on plates and napkins and was said to symbolise how guests were welcome in the homes of the upper class.

And because trade routes were often slow and perilous, it was considered a significant achievement from a host to procure a ripe pineapple for guests.

As one person Tweeted: "People used to hire them out to the lords of the manor to be presented at the end of a luxurious dinner. They weren’t eaten they were just being used to show their wealth."

Naval significance

Although Christopher Columbus brought a pineapple back from his 1492 expedition to the New World, they remained expensive to import into western Europe.

British Navy captains would stick a pineapple on top of their garden gates after returning home from sea.

The captain would display the fruit to signify to friends and neighbours that he had returned from his ocean voyage and was ready to entertain visitors with good stories and good food.

One person Tweeted their support of this theory.

They wrote: "Apparently it represents the tradition of English sailors putting pineapples on their gateposts when they returned from a long voyage."

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