WHEN Tim Henman hits Wimbledon's Centre Court today he will be playing on the most famous grass court in the world - and that grass court is made in Wales.
The hard-wearing turf that covers the All England Tennis Club courts is grown from seeds specially developed at the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (Iger) in Aberystwyth.
Dr Daniel Thorogood, a member of the Great Britain triathlete team, is the scientist behind the tough green grass mixture.
He said yesterday, "To see these fantastic players depending on the grass we provide is nice to know."
The agricultural research institute in West Wales was commissioned to develop a hard-wearing grass by British Seed Houses (BSH) more than a decade ago.
BSH is the only independent UK seed house in a highly competitive grass seed business dominated corporate giants, mostly based in the Netherlands or Scandinavia.
It wanted a new grass seed variety that was both hard wearing and capable of being mown extremely short.
Dr Thorogood began working on the project in 1987 and in 1995 developed the Aber Elf variety followed by the Aber Imp in 1998.
The two rye grass varieties were then blended together in a 50/50 mix to make up a Wimbledon lawn capable of coping with the pounding a tennis court takes.
After the seed is nurtured at Iger's greenhouses and chambers, the grass is grown on farms in southern England.
The new blend has now been used at Wimbledon for four years after being picked by head groundsman, Eddie Seaward to replace the previous lawns made up of Red Fescue grass.
"In the 1980s in the days of John McEnroe you would always see brownish areas on the court because fescues can't take that wear and tear," said Richard Brown, BSH's amenity sales manager.
"The new grass is the reason the courts are looking better. It's all down to grass developed in Wales."