Tennis: Wimbledon serves up sushi as players switch from pasta

Spectators with their favourite food - strawberries and cream - at Wimbledon on July 4, 2017. As for the players, while pasta is still extremely popular because of the carbs, demand for sushi has doubled year-on-year over the last three years.
Spectators with their favourite food - strawberries and cream - at Wimbledon on July 4, 2017. As for the players, while pasta is still extremely popular because of the carbs, demand for sushi has doubled year-on-year over the last three years.PHOTO: REUTERS

(AFP) - The world's top tennis players are ravenous for sushi, with Wimbledon catering chiefs having to lay on twice as much of the Japanese dish this year to meet the growing hunger.

Pasta was the traditional carbohydrate-heavy dish of choice for tennis professionals but demand for sushi at Wimbledon has doubled year on year, said Anthony Davies, the All England Club's head of food and beverage.

"Making sure they have what they need in order to be match fit and deliver what they need to do on court is a big part of what we do," he told AFP.

"It's all about variety. Players make their own choices about what they eat. Pasta is a very, very popular dish because of the carbs - but sushi has grown in popularity.

"It's doubled year on year over the last three years. It's a very popular product. It's a good, solid dose of protein and carbs all in one small bite-sized piece so it probably works well."

He said the range of food offered to players changes with the latest updates in sports science.

"We have long conversations with the ATP and WTA governing bodies about what's new in nutrition and what the players are looking for each year and we introduce new products based on their input," he told reporters.

Wimbledon bills itself as Europe's largest annual catering event and its English summer event image is inextricably linked to strawberries and cream.

The strawberries are picked daily in Kent in south-east England at 4am, collected from the packing plant at 9am and are delivered to the All England Club in London in a truck by 11am, half an hour before play starts on the outside courts.

There are at least 10 strawberries in each serving, and the price has been held at £2.50 (S$4.50) since 2010, with the All England Club taking a hit on the traditional favourite to keep the prices within popular reach.

28,000 kilogrammes of strawberries are consumed during the tournament, along with more than 10,000 litres of fresh cream.