Traditions famous and little known, ranging from the rule that competitors will wear only "predominantly white" attire on court to the convention that "play shall begin daily at 2 p.m., precisely," are an important part of Wimbledon. This is not only the oldest and most prestigious of tennis tournaments, but also the most starchily proper and exacting.

The verdant 10 1/2 acres of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club are spruced daily - the dignified green buildings and plentiful shrubs and flower beds tidied up to suit even the most critical eye by student recruits who live on the grounds and work all night, and by an experienced grounds crew that labors from the crack of dawn until the gates open to the public at noon.

The floral arrangements are recreated annually to an absolute standard. There are 3,600 antirrhinums, 1,500 hydrangeas, 1,000 geraniums, 1,000 petunias, 500 french marigolds and 36 lilies brought in to mingle with the patrician roses and snapdragons that live here all summer.

At first glance, then, Wimbledon appears to be sublimely unchanging. But it is not.

After last year's tournament, the roof of the 10-sided, Elizabethan theatre-style Centre Court was raised in order to add three more rows of seats all around - a total increase of 1,088 seats, to a total capacity (including standing room) of about 15,000 spectators.

There have been other changes, including a rules revision so that tie breakers are now played at 6-all instead of 8-all in sets, as they are everywhere else in the tennis world. But still never in "the fifth set of a match, or the third set when ladies take part."

Prices have changed, too, reflecting modern times. Strawberries and cream - an inescapable Wimbledon tradition - are now 90 pence (about $1.80) for a small serving in a plastic dish. Champagne is $3 per glass.

But the most noticeable change was the removal of the familiar clock on Centre Court, which has been replaced by a digital time-piece directly over the scoreboard, where its Rolex logo gets maximum television and film exposure.