Rufus the hawk, who is used to keep pigeons away from the All England Club, was snatched in his cage from a car overnight during last year's Grand Slam.

After widespread media coverage, the bird of prey was handed in to the RSPCA a few days later.

Despite the scare, owner Imogen Davies said it had not put them off taking Rufus back to SW19.

Miss Davies, whose family business Avian Environmental uses birds of prey to discourage vermin from all sorts of locations around the capital, said they had not been put off by last year's experience.

"Absolutely not," she said. "I can't really believe last year happened, the whole time was a bubble and then when I was the other side of it I thought it couldn't possibly have happened. I couldn't get my
head round it."

And she said the five-year-old harris hawk is "absolutely fine".

"Since we've had him we have been bringing him to Wimbledon, it's kind of like his playground, he knows exactly what he's doing, it's just normal for him."

She said they work at Wimbledon all year round, stopping pigeons from roosting in the famous Centre Court roof, visiting more often in the run up to the Grand Slam and then every day of the Championships.

They also work at locations including landfill sites, airfields, and even Westminster Abbey.

Miss Davies, 26, who has taken the helm of the family business from her father, said: "I'm one of six children, I suppose it was inevitable that one of us would take over, I just didn't know it would be me,
but here I am.

"It's great though, we get the opportunity to come to Wimbledon every year, and places like Westminster Abbey."

She said Rufus inherited the Wimbledon job from Hamish, a harris hawk who lived to be 18, but his successor has been working at the All England Club for most of his life.

"He's definitely getting recognised now at Wimbledon, people stop him just on the journey from Centre Court to court number one and he gets stopped for photos and all sorts.

"But sometimes as I bring him in some security guards tell me I can't bring my pet in because they don't realise it's him.

"He's got his own pass but doesn't usually wear it and this year he's even got a hood in Wimbledon colours."