Scoobs's Centre Court Celebration...

05-17-2009, 11:19 PM
Such an amazing experience.

I was running slightly late today. We had a Eurovision Song Contest party at mine last night, which was damn good fun and went on quite late, so I was needs must a late start this morning, which meant I was in something of a rush. The gates opened at 12, but at that time I'd not even left my house. However, the main action, commencing with the closing of the roof, wasn't due to start until 2.30 so I knew I had a bit of time. Having to take a somewhat circuitous route to avoid tube engineering works, I finally arrived in SW19 at around 1.30pm, and dived in a taxi-share from Southfields down to the club. A quick ticket inspection and a baggage scan and I was in!

I joined an interminably long queue to pick up some bottled drinks to take in with me, as I'd been too disorganised to manage to bring any, and then I knew exactly where I was headed!

That's right!

Court 2!

You see, as I wandered past the food court area under Centre Court, I noticed that the south end of the grounds where the new court is situated seemed to be open to the public and indeed I could just glimpse people apparently entering the new stadium itself. So how could I resist a chance to stickybeak?

I dashed over and climbed up into the stands to have a look. And what they've done, I think, is magnificent. It's brand new, and yet it has this look, in spite of also looking brand new, of also looking like it's always been there, has always been a part of the tournament.

They were letting people in to wander freely, which I thought was admirable, knowing how curious we'd all be. So I went up to the top and walked all the way around to take some photos from every angle, then went right down to court level as well to see what it was like from there.

It reminds me in many ways of the MCA in Melbourne and Court 1 at Roland Garros, which they call the bullring. An open feel to the court, but wonderfully imtimate, with enough seating to provide a great atmosphere when there's a close match on. I think it's going to be terrific and I can't wait to see some live action from there.

However, time was running on, and I needed to find my seat. Moisture was in the air and I knew if the rains came they'd close the roof earlier than planned, so I hot footed it round the Centre Court to locate my entrance.

05-17-2009, 11:20 PM
What can I say?

It's one thing to finally get to see perhaps your favourite court in the whole world live (okay not for the actual tournament but this isn't a bad substitute). It's another to have perhaps the best seat in the house.

I was sat directly opposite the umpire's chair, the net was exactly aligned with me so all I could see was the thin line that separated the two halves, and a completed unrestricted view of the court. Plus, though I was on Row B, there was no Row A where I was so I was right at the very front. The Royal Box gives you the traditional TV view but for a ground level view, this was absolutely superb vantage point for the action. To be so close to the grass that you can actually smell it...amazing. I'm not usually a very lucky person but today I felt like the luckiest person in the world.

2.15pm came, and out came Pat Cash and Virginia Wade to share some of their memories of playing on the court, and their thoughts on the new roof. Then Sue Barker emerged to begin the BBC's live coverage, out came Andre, Steffi, Tim and Kim, for a brief welcome interview, with some reminiscences of their experiences on this court.

Finally it was time to close the roof. This being Wimbledon, magnificent but always with a soupcon of pretentiousness, naturally we couldn't close the roof without some classical and opera singers, in the shape of Faryl Smith, Katherine Jenkins and Blake. They were good, if you like that sort of thing, but I pretty much kept my eyes heavenward as the lights came on, the giant trusses began to move and the translucent canopy began to unfurl.

05-17-2009, 11:21 PM

05-17-2009, 11:22 PM

The whole thing took about 8 minutes to complete, and it looks magnificent from underneath it - perhaps more so than the exterior view, which I think looks a tad strange with the roof closed. The lights attached to all the trusses came to full illumination, and the singers sang while the air management system went to work to standardise the conditions, which they are aiming for at 24C and 50% humidity, apparently. I found it just a tad warm, personally - I wished they'd crank up the aircon just a bit more. But the important thing is that the court surface was perfect, with no condensation or slipperyness to worry about.

05-17-2009, 11:23 PM
Out came the players again to a wonderful ovation, and a very entertaining mixed doubles ensued. No doubt it was stage managed, but they did play some very entertaining tennis, with Tim and Kim coming from a break down to force the tiebreak, which they narrowly won.

Of the three "oldies" you can see that all three of them still have all the moves. Andre was still cracking the ball for all he was worth and pulled off some shots that had the crowd gasping. Steffi's trademark serve, no worries about the wind with the high toss anymore - and that lethal forehand was still very much in evidence. And Tim pulled off several terrific volleys, including a couple of exquisite half volleys.

As for Kim, she's clearly worked hard to get herself back into shape, and I thought she played pretty well - she must have been nervous given the occasion and obviously this meant something to her in a very different way - it wouldn't have augured well for her comeback if she'd played terribly. She didn't though - while she did look rusty in places, all the old shots are still there and when she's match tight, she'll no doubt be formidable once again.

They had a bit of a surprise for us between the Mixed Doubles and the Mens Singles. While the old men went for a bit of a breather, Sue Barker returned and introduced Andy Murray! He emerged for a chat, to take a look at the roof, and said it looked really good, so much better than most roofs - and commented that the closed roof traps the atmosphere inside so you're going to see some even more atmospheric matches with the roof closed. We had a rundown of how his season is going and his goals for Paris (make it to the second week). And then Tim and Andre re-emerged. Andy had me in stitches saying that Andre had been his favourite player growing up and he'd had the demin shorts and the pink cycling shorts underneath and the baseball cap with the long blond hair poking out the back :o) Andre commented on this fashion as "showing questionable taste." Sue wrapped things up, and it was back to the action.

05-17-2009, 11:24 PM
In the mens singles it stayed pretty much with serve throughout, with Tim serve-volleying and Andre finding some big serves, as well as a few doubles, and some steaming shotmaking from both wings.

In the end, though, Andre snatched the vital break and took the match 6-4 - delayed revenge perhaps for their final dual at Queens in 2006 when Henman beat Andre in the first round.

While Kathrine Jenkins re-emerged to warble something that sounded suspicously like an operatic version of Bryan Adam's "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)", I took the opportunity to eat my chocolate brownie and stretch my legs briefly, and soak up the atmosphere.

05-17-2009, 11:24 PM
I returned for the start of the ladies singles. The match started blisteringly, with both ladies trading tremendous forehands, and Steffi fought her way up an early break. However, Kim tightened up her game a bit and started to move Steffi around a bit more, and it seemed like Graf was starting to tire from her extra exertions today, as the forehand started to misfire more and more as the set wore on. Clijsters recovered the break, and then forged ahead. Steffi fought hard to claw it back, but Clijsters managed to serve it out.

I found it interesting to hear how Steffi felt about the place, clearly it was very special for her - I rather thought she preferred the French Open, to be honest, but she seemed to genuinely love being back, and I remembered how she sort of slinked away from Wimbledon 10 years ago after losing to Davenport in the final, never to return as a professional player. The copy I have of that match is the American TV broadcast and I remember the interview she did with Bud Collins just after she left the court, you know how Bud (and now Mac) likes to hijack them just before the walk through the double doors that lead to the champion's board and the locker room. Bud asked her if she'd be back again next year and she just kinda tilted her head and quietly said..."no...I don't think so..."

10 years later it was so nice to see her back for one last time on the Centre Court - I regret that I was never able to see her live in her prime - and indeed Tim and André - but this is the next best thing.

The four players went up to the Royal Box to be presented with some little plates as a memento of the occasion - when Wimbledon outrageously allowed play on Centre Court outside the 2 weeks of the Championships. Probably not something that will be repeated for many years, if ever.

As the final applause was taken, and the spectators dashed for the exits to make their way back to their many destinations, no doubt all over the country, I remained in my seat a little while longer. After all, how often was I going to get the chance to sit here, on this court, with such a spectacular view? Why rush away? I gazed around - at the grass, the big screens, the giant trusses of the roof and the pigeon trapped inside still occasionally soaring around trying to locate an exit...

...then I got up, smiled a little wistfully, knowing it was over all too soon, and made my way outside.

It was raining.

Snoo Foo
05-17-2009, 11:30 PM
wow awesome pix :worship: and report :yeah:

but where are the pix from the party?

05-17-2009, 11:31 PM
Excellent. Good stuff. How did you find the surface? Speed, bounce etc.

prima donna
05-17-2009, 11:32 PM
You go girl.

05-17-2009, 11:32 PM
wow awesome pix :worship: and report :yeah:

but where are the pix from the party?
Those will never been seen ;)

05-17-2009, 11:34 PM
Excellent. Good stuff. How did you find the surface? Speed, bounce etc.
I thought it was playing quite fast actually.

And the ball was really staying low on the slices, they were really having to dig them out of the court, it looked like to me. Plus all four of them play pretty flat, especially off their forehands, so it will seem faster compared to the topspinners on the main tour. It will be interesting to see if it seems any faster when the tournament rolls round, but I don't expect so.

Corey Feldman
05-17-2009, 11:34 PM
that court 2 looks amazing

05-17-2009, 11:36 PM
Wonderful report, Chris. Thanks so much. It sounds like you had a great day.

05-17-2009, 11:38 PM
It was amazing (in direct TV coverage).

05-17-2009, 11:40 PM
oh yeah court 2 is class. big props to scoobs for sneaking in. how many does it hold?

05-17-2009, 11:43 PM
I think it holds 2,500 or thereabouts. It's quite deceptive because it feels quite small but when it's full I bet it's going to make quite a noise.

05-17-2009, 11:44 PM
Great report, Chris :hatoff: I'm glad you had fun :)

05-17-2009, 11:46 PM
I think it holds 2,500 or thereabouts. It's quite deceptive because it feels quite small but when it's full I bet it's going to make quite a noise.

just googled it (should have done it in the first place I know...). It's 4,000. It did look bigger than 2,500 in your pics. That's a nice court indeed, although it won't have the legend of the previous one.

05-17-2009, 11:50 PM
4,000? Wow....I'm just picturing it in my head and it doesn't feel that big...

It'll take some time to build a few legends of its own, will the new Court 2, but I think it will do.

05-17-2009, 11:51 PM
looks like a scientology church meeting.

05-17-2009, 11:53 PM
quality report, though.

thumbs up

05-17-2009, 11:53 PM
looks like a scientology church meeting.


05-17-2009, 11:54 PM
Thanks for the report! I saw bits and pieces on BBC (was too preoccupied with the Fedal match to be honest), and it seemed like fun. I happened to catch the Agassi-Murray hug. I'm not exactly a fan of Murray, but I thought that was rather cute. ♥

Here's a video of Andy's appearance ( on the BBC SPORT site for those who missed it, plus other Wimbledon highlights.

05-17-2009, 11:58 PM

can't u see that masonic vibe in the pics?

maybe it's just me

05-17-2009, 11:58 PM
Awesome stuff Scoobs. Glad you had a great time and thanks so much for the report and pictures. :yeah:

I saw the start of it on BBCi before I had to leave to watch Chelsea. That Katherine Jenkins has a wonderful rich voice. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole ceremony.

Also good to see that new Court #2 fully built and ready for play. I was in there last year before the seats had been installed, with just a naked concrete structure. But I could already tell it was going to be a charming new development.

It all just confirms for me why Wimbledon is the most special sporting event in the world and all the credit has to go to the AELTC. They have done the most outstanding job, blending tradition and modernization, to maintain the true home of tennis.

05-18-2009, 12:04 AM
holy smokes... nice job...!! :yeah:

05-18-2009, 12:38 AM
Awesome report Chris, thank you. Glad you enjoyed it so much. Perhaps Steffi considers Wimbledon special because that's where her relationship with Agassi began? (According to rumors anyway).

05-18-2009, 12:48 AM
can't u see that masonic vibe in the pics?

maybe it's just me


05-18-2009, 12:54 AM
can't u see that masonic vibe in the pics?

maybe it's just me

i see it mate...

i took one look at it and all i could think about is a scene from kubrick's eyes wide shut kicking off right about now...

05-18-2009, 01:45 AM
Wow, Chris, awesome report! lucky you to get such good seats! I watched it on and it was quite a lot of fun. Seems all the changes are for the better. I thought it seemed playing fast too but with those particular players, almost any court would feel fast. Great to see Tim and Andre both still so fit and sharp. Tim's volleys were so lovely they were weep-worthy. Great stuff all around - thanks so much for sharing!

05-18-2009, 03:03 AM
Great pics :worship:

05-18-2009, 03:11 AM
great photos, thanks :wavey:

05-18-2009, 03:32 AM
great report! i was originally afraid the new roof would detract from the overall look and feel of centre court, but i actually like it and i think it all goes together quite well.

05-18-2009, 05:37 AM
great report and wonderful pix, well done scoobs :worship: :yeah:

05-18-2009, 05:37 AM
Thanks for the wonderful report, Chris! :worship:

05-18-2009, 06:36 AM
Love your reports and pics Scoobs,thanks a lot:worship:

05-18-2009, 06:43 AM
Great report and pics :D

Horatio Caine
05-18-2009, 06:54 AM
Great report mate, do you write for a living? :eek:

Thanks also for the pictures. Can't wait to experience this for myself this year. Kinda hoping that it won't rain though, and that I can find a way into the new Court 2! Looks great! I guess the Chinese warrior figures have been taken away now? They were on display in Court 2 at last year's Championships.

Centre Court looked like it was playing quite quick, or was that largely due to the 'indoor' conditions? And also maybe because Agassi and Henman don't really hold back...? Otherwise, I could see Mr. Federer having reason to pray for rain! :lol:


05-18-2009, 08:00 AM
awesome, can't wait for wimby to start!

05-18-2009, 08:23 AM
Wonderful Chris, thank you, such an enjoyable read for all of us :hug:

05-18-2009, 10:07 AM
fantastic report. any video links of the proceedings?

05-18-2009, 12:04 PM
Nice report, scoobs.

Any temptation to do some streaking?

05-18-2009, 05:15 PM
Thanks, scoobs! :hearts:

05-18-2009, 06:21 PM
Brilliant absolutely brilliant, nice work mate. :)

Now im wishing i went, but i was busy today and all i could do is drive past Wimbledon :(

05-18-2009, 06:29 PM
Great report and it was fun to watch on TV. The matches were enjoyable but obviously staged. Even Lloyd said at one time, this MD match is hardly fair on paper with 30 slam wins at one end and 1 at the other. Although they worked hard at keep it close.

Roof looked great but on TV it looked low. What about lob room, was it a low as it looked???

05-18-2009, 06:36 PM
The roof is 16m off the ground.

Reading up on the ITF regulations, there's no defined minimum but they recommend at least 9m as the bare minimum, but this wouldn't be for a Grand Slam standard venue, I imagine.

From my vantage point I thought there was good clearance for the lob but as with any indoor venue, if you hit one that would bring snow down, it will end up hitting the roof structure. I only see it being an issue with guys like Murray throwing up those very high defensive lobs from way out of position.

05-18-2009, 06:42 PM
scoobs, Good deal, thanks. I thought it had to be higher than it looked. Sometimes TV can be so deceptive.. Great pics by the way. I wish I could have been there.