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A Cordial Break-Up After 86 Years: Robinsons and Wimbledon End Partnership

There’s got to be a deuce joke in here somewhere, too

Tennis - 2014 Wimbledon Championships - Day Three - The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club Anthony Devlin/PA Images via Getty Images

The All England Club at Wimbledon and Robinsons fruit cordial have ended an 86-year partnership ahead of the 2022 tennis championships which begin in southwest London on Monday.

The relationship between the soft drinks brand and the home of the most prized lawn tennis tournament in the world dates back to 1935, a year when the iconic British player Fred Perry was crowned champion in the men’s draw and American Helen Moody triumphed in the women’s singles.

In the days before Evian took centre stage on centre court, the Robinsons brand was central to the Wimbledon aesthetic. The bottles of lemon and orange barley water (a drink that is distinctly cloudy when diluted) in the refrigerators sat naturally alongside the pristine lawns, the English sun, and the tubes of Slazenger balls courtside.

BBC News quotes a spokesperson for Britvic, the drinks company which owns the Robinsons brand. They said it had been “tremendously proud to have been such a prominent partner to this historic tournament for so many years and the wider role we have played in boosting engagement with the game of tennis in the UK”.

Now, though, Robinsons was looking to broaden its “summertime reach beyond the Wimbledon fortnight”.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club said the partnership ended, ahem, cordially, and by “mutual agreement.”

The origins of the partnership pre-date the official sponsorship, when a hydrating concoction of barley, lemon juice, and sugar created by a man named Eric Smedley Hodgson was handed out to players and umpires during and, according to some, left in the changing rooms. It was reportedly so popular that Smedley Hodgson was invited back every year.

Unlike almost every other major sporting event in the world, the Championships at Wimbledon have always been extremely prude and discreet when it comes to sponsorships. Rolex, Slazenger, Evian, Ralph Lauren, HSBC, and Robinsons have only been noticeable to those who are looking; advertising hoardings at the championships have never been considered. Nor has anything which interferes with the green, purple, and white of the brand. But could Robinsons departure be an indication of a new dawn at the All England Club? Monster x Wimbledon, 2023?

“We are tremendously proud of the historic association with Robinsons over so many years, and thank them for the wider role they have played in supporting Wimbledon and tennis across the UK,” a statement issued by the tennis club said.