Here's a question. You're going to an interview, or perhaps having to address some very important people with your ideas and views; what colour do you wear? What colour of clothing will subconsciously command more respect for you? Well, it's probably going to be blue. A darkish blue conveys authority, in no uncertain terms, and it's no accident that many police forces use it for their uniforms. Similarly, if you want to appear creative or confident, pink is your colour (think how many architects have a dash of pink, or a pink bow tie, in their wardrobes - and, conversely, why police forces don't use it for their uniforms). The psychology of colours is a big subject - red, yellow, purple et al, all say something to the outside world. Oh, and you're less likely to be mugged wearing orange, apparently. All of which takes us to Wimbledon.
Since the Championships began back in 1877, Wimbledon has risen, in a very British way, not simply to become a famous tennis tournament, but probably the most famous of the four Grand Slams. It's certainly the most instantly recognised worldwide of the four. Of course there are plenty of reasons for this success. The promotion of tennis and Wimbledon throughout the Commonwealth before the advent of a global media must be a strong contender, but could the colour green be one of the strongest?
Wimbledon's heritage and traditions - the way it goes about things and what it means to people - are what leading brands are made of. Brands are very powerful things, and, once established, they tend to stay in the mind. Which means that when too many changes take place the brand loses its power.
Of course, just 'staying the same' isn't enough and being progressive and moving with the times are things which Wimbledon does very well indeed: a venerable grass centre court with a state of the art retractable roof...tradition with modernity. Walking through the myriad displays of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum you realise that the intuitively clever thing about Wimbledon is that however much it changes, it still looks, essentially, the same. Or, to put it more cryptically, the more it changes, the more it doesn't.
Wimbledon does things 'differently' by sticking to its guns: the adherence to grass, predominantly white kit and long lasting associations with official suppliers. The discreet Rolex logo is synonymous with reliability and longevity - not surprisingly, two of Wimbledon's own qualities. Likewise, Robinsons Barley Water and the BBC are not only the quintessence of Wimbledon, but appear to a worldwide audience as the quintessence of tennis itself.
Perhaps it's the grass that makes the difference? The Australian Open originally took place on grass but now takes place on vulcanised concrete. Roland Garros has always had its 'clay' (actually white limestone surfaced with a few millimetres of powdered red brick dust). The US Open has gone from grass to clay and now, DecoTurf, a fast hard-court of acrylic over an asphalt or concrete base. All perfectly fine and that leaves Wimbledon as the only Grand Slam played on the game's original surface Indeed, the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum Tour takes great pride in beguiling visitors who take its award-winning tour with what it describes as 'tennis in an English garden'.
Yet, the reason that Wimbledon has reached its pre-eminence might not be because of its grass per se but its colour, green. Green is a powerfully compelling and subtle colour. Green contains equal amounts of Yellow and Blue, a mix of warm and cool, which are very calming and pleasing to the senses. There is strong practical evidence that it helps the healing process in patients. This is not to suggest Wimbledon is healing you as you watch, but it certainly has a reassuring effect. Of course, plenty of other games are played on grass; football and cricket, for example. But at Wimbledon the green effect goes much further with its enclosures, hoardings, roofs, stands and court backdrops. These, together with the long standing vine covered front entrance and the leafy suburban setting, all combine to give the impression, subconsciously, that one is in a 'non-threatening environment'. More than this, by visiting Wimbledon, or even just watching it on television, your subconscious is responding to what medical practitioners call a 'restorative environment'.
Add a touch of white, a colour renowned for purity, to provide a crisp contrast to that seductive green and you have a tennis tournament that is providing a very compulsive attraction for the senses. No garish clashes of colour to jar and confuse on a subconscious level. Thus, as well as the good work in running the tournament it could well be that Wimbledon has instinctively hit upon the 'ideal' colour for attracting viewers purely by sticking to its historical preference for grass. It might be the biggest reason why, amongst all Grand Slams, Wimbledon, is just a shade more famous than all the rest.