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Old 03-17-2007, 07:50 PM   #1
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Default Why Wimbledon is So Special.

Why Wimbledon is So Special

Ron Atkin


For 11 months of the year there is little happening along Church Road, Wimbledon, to indicate that this is the home of the world's biggest tennis tournament. It is a road much favoured by driving instructors and people exercising dogs. Then, in the build-up to, the staging of and the clearing up at the end of The Championships, all changes. Church Road and its immediate environs in the London suburb of SW19 are filled with those whose task it is to present the tennis and those who have come to watch it.

Wimbledon is special in so many ways. It is the only one of the four Grand Slams still to be played on grass and it remains free from subsidy or indeed any outward sign of commercialism. Because of the worldwide upsurge in tennis interest, it becomes annually more difficult to stay ahead of the rest, but Wimbledon manages to do it. As the previous chairman of the All England Club, John Curry, once said, "One of the skills we have is that we're fuddy-duddy. Once people think we're dynamic that's when we have problems."

Curry was only half-joking. In its quiet, understated fashion, Wimbledon is organised and presented with a precision, which makes it magnificently unique. In the bewildering eddies of tennis, the fastest changing of the major sports, Wimbledon has not only stayed majestically afloat but continues to be the pinnacle of tennis ambition and achievement.

The late Arthur Ashe, one of the tournament's great champions, attempted to explain this phenomenon: "Part of the reason that Wimbledon attracts such attention is that it is a bona fide, certified British tradition and British traditions are just a bit more traditional than anyone else's."

Many players built, and continue to build, their whole year round Wimbledon. Think of the planning that went into the achievements of Bjorn Borg, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Boris Becker. Think how Pete Sampras' career has always been arrowed towards this one event - with spectacular success - and how Tim Henman annually bears the considerable burden of British expectation.

It is a tournament which has changed for ever the lives of so many of its champions, for winners like John McEnroe and for losers, too, like Goran Ivanisevic, three times the "bridesmaid" as men's singles runner-up.

Another of The Championships' great champions, Jimmy Connors, calls Wimbledon the Olympics of his sport and John Newcombe, that supreme Australian competitor, has observed, "You can find out anything you want to know about a person by putting him or her on Centre Court at Wimbledon."

Much of Wimbledon's eminence comes from the historical fact of having been first in the field, but that eminence needs to be defended with what might be termed modest ferocity. Many are the sporting enterprises, which have learned to their cost that pre-eminence in their particular field of operations is not necessarily an enduring quality.

There are other tennis events which can claim bigger this or that. The US Open, for example, makes much of the fact that it offers the premium prize money. But none has ever offered the prestige that goes with a Wimbledon title. And for all its so-called amateurish attitude, Wimbledon has been brave and hard-nosed when the necessity arose.

The best example of this came when Wimbledon showed the rest of the world the way in 1968, drawing a curtain over the years of "shamateurism" and under-the-counter payments by opening its gates to amateurs and professionals alike in 1968 - the single most important change in the sport's history.

A recent headline in The Times over an article about Wimbledon pointed out: "The Bubble Keeps on Growing." So it does, and the job Wimbledon carries out so well is to ensure that bubble never bursts.
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Old 03-17-2007, 07:52 PM   #2
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Default Re: Why Wimbledon is So Special.

Eighty Years of Centre Court

Barry Newcombe


The Centre Court at Wimbledon, the most famous tennis arena in the world, reaches its 80th Birthday during the 2002 Championships. The milestone simply adds another story to the house of legends which this unique grass court has become since its opening in 1922. "It is like a cathedral out there," says John Newcombe, three times singles champion.

The countdown to the 80th birthday includes two particularly special years in the life of Wimbledon. In 2000, Pete Sampras of the United States won his seventh singles title in a finish so late on the Centre Court that the light was fading fast as Sampras eventually overhauled his Australian opponent Pat Rafter in four sets.

A year later the men's final was played in its entirety on the third Monday of The Championships before a crowd which had the opportunity to buy tickets on the day. They were rewarded with a magnificent contest between the new champion Goran Ivanisevic, who was a wild card entry into The Championships, and Rafter. Emotions ran high between supporters of the two finalists and there was an astonishing, noisy atmosphere throughout.

Back in 1921, when it became clear that The Championships should be moved from their first home at Worple Road to what is now Church Road in Wimbledon in time for the 1922 tournament, there was an expectant atmosphere as the new headquarters took shape. The Centre Court, like all the others, was surfaced with Cumberland turf and the demand to provide more spectator accommodation than Worple Road meant an initial provision of 9989 seats. There was standing room for 3600 spectators, divided equally on either side of the court, an arrangement which continued until 1990 when seats were introduced on safety grounds.

The attention to detail for the spectator was considerable and carefully thought out. Nearly all spectators would have such a clear view that they would be able to see a tiny piece of paper on the grass, no matter where they were. Potential patrons were reminded that in shooting it was possible to distinguish between differing game birds in flight and none of those moved as fast as a tennis ball. "No sportsman with average eyesight has the slightest difficulty in distinguishing birds at this distance and therefore the general public should be able to see all the niceties of the game," said a memorandum. In addition, no shadow would appear on the court until 7 p.m.

It may seem entirely appropriate to those who have followed Wimbledon's relationship with bad weather over the years that the momentous first day of the Centre Court was affected by rain. Play was due to start at 2.45 pm but the covers stayed on after a wet morning. King George V and Queen Mary appeared briefly but it was 3.30 pm before the King struck a gong three times to signal the opening of the grounds - and 15 minutes later play began. It rained on every day of The Championships and the tournament was completed on the third Wednesday. The champions were Gerald Patterson of Australia and Suzanne Lenglen of France who were the first players to take the titles after the abolition of the Challenge Round.

The King and Queen were regular visitors to the 1922 tournament, thus setting a pattern of Royal visits which has been maintained ever since. All players on Centre Court bow to royalty in the box and Rod Laver, four times champion, describes the feeling: "It was an ordeal. . . . . it's something I worried about. . . . the main thing is not to bend too far because you might fall flat on your face which would be a bad show. "

Attendances proved that Wimbledon's new home was as popular as anticipated and the Centre Court crowds who occupied the three miles of seating, with 21 miles of wooden slats providing "comfortable backs", were the forerunners of the millions of spectators who have followed in their footsteps. It was six times champion Bjorn Borg who said it was not an unusual sight to see four thousand people standing outside the Centre Court waiting for nothing in particular to happen but that kind of congestion is a thing of the past thanks to the various methods to help spectators to move around the grounds. But the chance to see famous players of yesterday and today in and around the Centre Court remains a fascination for many visitors.

Naturally the Centre Court has established many landmarks over the years. In 1931, a player wearing glasses appeared on the Centre Court for the first time and in the same year a lady played without wearing stockings. A male player in shorts first appeared in 1933.

By 1949 the trophies were presented on Centre Court for the first time, the first lady umpire to officiate on the Centre Court was in 1981, and the first lady to take a final was Georgina Clark who umpired the last match in the ladies' centenary championship. A year later some spectators took the chance to swim in one of the passageways under the court after an immense storm produced one and half inches of rain in 20 minutes. Nine years later a temperature of 115F was recorded on the court on the final day of The Championships.

The Centre Court was re-roofed in 1992 and has four support pillars instead of the original 22. It had to take a back seat for a while when the new No. 1 Court was opened in 1997 but there has never been any loss of stature for the famous old place. It has housed tennis of quality, of character, and of style in its unique pathway to becoming the only Grand Slam Championship to still be played on the game's original surface.
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Old 03-17-2007, 08:08 PM   #3
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Default Re: Why Wimbledon is So Special.

wimbledon is less special now there is equal prize money
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Old 03-17-2007, 08:17 PM   #4
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Default Re: Why Wimbledon is So Special.

Wimbledon was ALWAYS overrated!
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Old 03-17-2007, 08:53 PM   #5
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Default Re: Why Wimbledon is So Special.

For me it is not so special . All 4 GS are equal
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Old 03-17-2007, 09:35 PM   #6
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Default Re: Why Wimbledon is So Special.

I always thought Wimbledon is the only grand slam where lower ranked players are so boring to watch! It's so demanding that if u don't master all the techniques on grass you look sillly on court!
My fave tournies are Roland Garros and the US open.
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Old 03-19-2007, 06:07 PM   #7
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Default Re: Why Wimbledon is So Special.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ranaldo View Post
I always thought Wimbledon is the only grand slam where lower ranked players are so boring to watch! It's so demanding that if u don't master all the techniques on grass you look sillly on court!
My fave tournies are Roland Garros and the US open.

Nobody look more sillier than the players running around on red clay, not grass court my friend.
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Old 03-19-2007, 06:11 PM   #8
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Default Re: Why Wimbledon is So Special.

Quote:
Many players built, and continue to build, their whole year round Wimbledon. Think of the planning that went into the achievements of Bjorn Borg, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Boris Becker. Think how Pete Sampras' career has always been arrowed towards this one event - with spectacular success - and how Tim Henman annually bears the considerable burden of British expectation.
This is a fallacy. Only players with great odds of being successful might plan their years around Wimbledon, and even then, in what sense? Do a token tune up I guess. How many players who expected to go deep at Wimbledon did not play the French for fear of burnout?
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Old 03-19-2007, 06:13 PM   #9
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Default Re: Why Wimbledon is So Special.

For me, Wimbledon is not more special than other GS and if i had to rate them, its the least one id like to go to. Its normal. Its just special coz its a surface that we dont see much of this year and its a change for hard courters and esp clay courters. Its just nice to see how players adapt to grass. Nadal recently said that hes more comfortable on grass than hard so that was unexpected
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Old 03-19-2007, 06:15 PM   #10
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Default Re: Why Wimbledon is So Special.

All 4 GS are equal
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Old 03-19-2007, 06:25 PM   #11
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Default Re: Why Wimbledon is So Special.

All Grand slams are equal, but Wimbledon ist by far the most prestigious and traditional tournament, where almost every player with a decent chance wants to win at least once in the career.

For further questin ask Mr. Lendl.
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Old 03-19-2007, 06:42 PM   #12
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Default Re: Why Wimbledon is So Special.

Outside of the obvious (grass major, great palmares and history)
-5 sets doubles: the only one outside of DC. It's a shame RG has dumbed down doubles
-no commercials: very relaxing to watch, fits well with the white and green color theme and it is nice that all-permeating ads are denied entry, makes you feel that the place is about tennis and not selling TV rights

My favourite slam with RG, but objectively i should put Wimbledon first.
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Old 03-19-2007, 06:47 PM   #13
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Default Re: Why Wimbledon is So Special.

I think wimbeldon is the most famous grand slam, people who don't watch the game tune in on Wimbledon, probably because its the oldest and most presitigous tournament..My best friend is American and she more into Basketball the only time she ever tunes into tennis is when wimbledon is on.


It and the French open are classy in that they never do that really embarressing thing of handing the winner the cheque then telling everyone how much it was for....that's sooooooooo tacky
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Old 03-19-2007, 06:47 PM   #14
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Default Re: Why Wimbledon is So Special.

Wimbledon means so much to me in my heart. Ask any great tennis player which slam means the most and its Wimby!!!!
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Old 03-19-2007, 07:01 PM   #15
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Default Re: Why Wimbledon is So Special.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rafa = Fed Killa View Post
All 4 GS are equal
Not in Nadals eyes.
He's a good boy and he knows the truth.
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