Venus Williams and Garbine Muguruza will battle for it on Sunday in their Wimbledon final – the big platter has been presented to Wimbledon’s ladies’ singles champions for 130 years now, but poses the question: why do female winners get a plate while their male counterparts a cup?
The ladies’ singles trophy – officially known as the Venus Rosewater Dish – is a sterling silver salver that’s partially gilded and decorated with an intricate mythological design.
A female figure – the representation of the virtue temperance – is seated in the middle of the plate, with a lamp in one hand and a jug in the other. She’s surrounded by the four elements while on the rim are the seven liberal arts: grammar, rhetoric, logic, geometry, arithmetic, music and astrology.
At the time of its creation, the trophy was at the height of modernity. The dish was created using a contemporary process called electroforming, due to the pewter industry’s slow decline, and its design inspired by one of the most influential works of the era.
The role of women in much of the 19th century was primarily to oversee the domestic duties in the house and, given the home is where females had the most power, the dish is often speculated to be a symbol of this.
Women were invited to join the championships seven years later in 1884, with the Venus Rosewater Dish first presented in 1886.
The men’s singles champions receive a fully gilded silver cup with an inscription that reads: “The All England Lawn Tennis Club Single Handed Championship of the World”.
Names of former champions are engraved into the bowl of the cup, which comes alongside a black plinth with a decorated silver band.
Until they’ve won it, it seems likely the only thing Williams and Muguruza will be concerned with is getting their hands on the thing.