The Robinsons and Wimbledon ended their 86-year partnership, one of the longest in the sport.
The squash brand’s association with Wimbledon dates back to 1935, when a drink containing malt, lemon juice and sugar was prepared to hydrate players, according to some accounts in the locker rooms of the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC). This was the year Fred Perry of Great Britain won the Gentlemen’s Songs.
Created by Eric Smedley Hodgson and distributed to players and referees during a visit to Wimbledon, the drink was so popular that it was invited back every year. He used Robinson’s barley crystals, invented by Matthias Robinson in 1823, who later moved the production of barley crystals to Norwich.
The fruit drink entered commercial production and began appearing in bottles on the steps of the referee’s bench at Wimbledon. Robinsons has become the official soft drink provider for tennis tournaments.
Wimbledon and the Robinsons have been closely associated ever since, perhaps as close to Wimbledon and strawberry and cream, and in 1988 Robinson coined the catchphrase “Anything else isn’t just tennis.” The long-term sponsorship deal was only overridden by Wimbledon’s 120-year association with Slazinger, the official ball supplier.
This week, the beverage brand, owned by Britvic, tweeted: “The Robinsons are no longer sponsoring Wimbledon for two weeks, and this year will be celebrating the entirety of summer with The Big Fruit Hunt – an interactive opportunity to find virtual fruit and win real prizes.”
The AELTC said: “After more than 80 years, we can confirm that the partnership between AELTC and Robinsons has come to an end. We are very proud of our historical association with Robinson over many years, and we thank them for the broader role they have played in support of Wimbledon and tennis across the UK” .
Robinsons was an independent company until it was acquired by Britvic in 1995.
While neither party has offered any reasons for ending the partnership, Britvic reportedly wanted to promote some of its other products in the tennis tournament, including drinks like Gatorade, Pepsi Max, Rockstar Energy, J2O and Fruit Shoot. However, it is believed that the tennis club is against association with other sugary soft drinks.
Robinsons said it removed any added sugars in 2015.
In May, the Robinsons became the official soft drink partner of Hundred, a 100-ball cricket tournament in England and Wales that launched last summer.
A Britvich spokesperson said: “We can confirm that the Robinsons and AELTC will not renew their partnership at Wimbledon this year. We are extremely proud to have been a prominent partner at this historic tournament for many years and the broader role we have played in promoting participation in the game of tennis in the UK.”