WITH what looked suspiciously like grass stains on his tennis shoes, Ken Rosewall entered the bare, blue arena named in his honour and squinted narrowly against the harsh sunlight.
"If you see any tears it will just be from the sun,'' he said.
Like the man, like his play: no fuss.
The 10,000-seat centre court at the Sydney Tennis Centre will now carry his name but Rosewall, 74, was thinking about those overlooked. "I feel very humble that his tennis stadium should be named after me,'' he said.
One obvious name overlooked, John Newcombe, sent his congratulations, saying the tribute was nearly a decade late.
"It should have happened when the place was first opened,'' Newcombe said.
"Ken's service to tennis on and off the court is immeasurable. Off court he's not a public person but he's been there 100 per cent.''
Rosewall, who had a hit on the synthetic surface with some young prospects, admitted to nerves. Not playing, which he does rarely these days but still with grace, but attending the Medibank International Sydney tournament in January.
"To come here to watch the tennis in my arena will be quite something,'' he said. ``I'll be a little nervous, I think.
"I had to brush off the cobwebs this morning to find an outfit to put on. My tennis is pretty much on the backburner these days.''
Rosewall says his last game was a couple of weeks ago. Before that, another of couple of months went by, despite his telling himself he should play more. Perhaps the grass stains on his shoes really are from gardening.
Counted among the Sydney-born right-hander's greatest moments were a series of epic Davis Cup ties and eight grand slam victories - despite being banned as a professional for what should have been his 10 best years. But perhaps Rosewall's most incredible achievement was his longevity. He won the Australian Open at 18 and again at 37.
Money might still the desire of some of the current players to do what it takes to remain on top, he cautioned. One of Rosewall's favourites, Roger Federer, is shooting for a 14th grand slam at the Australian Open to equal Pete Sampras's record.
"I've always enjoyed Roger's game, having seen him as a young player when he first visited here and played in Sydney, to witness his improvement and to see quite a lot of his victories,'' Rosewall said.
"He's lifted the level of play and reallly brought on a lot of other great men players trying to emulate his form.''
Yet the Swiss star has every chance of breaking Sampras's mark, his future would depend on his internal drive.
"It depends on Roger's desire to work hard and remain in shape. Even though he's got fantastic natural ability he's still knows he's got to work hard to keep above any of the other good players who are coming along to challenge him,'' Rosewall said.
Yesterday Rosewall's challenge was to return the ball from above his shoulders, with exaggerated top spin bouncing the ball higher every year.
"I don't think I would enjoy playing now, unless there were restrictions on the equipment,'' he said.