The photos: Another female Russian player, Ross, the Brit, and the queue for entry to the All England!
Yes, I went to the French Open last May for the first time. It was a great experience, but pales in comparison to Wimbledon. Here is my Wimbledon story from 2009. BTW, the tournament starts tomorrow morning.
I went to Wimbledon back in 2009. I thought you might enjoy this, again! I would place it at the top, along with the Masters Golf Tournament, Indy 500, and the Kentucky Derby.
It is the eve of the fortnight. We have a new Princess, lots of good beer, and a wide open tournament on both the men’s and women’s sides.
My story about Wimbledon, one of many stories:
To complete my spectator sports trifecta (along with the Indy 500 and the Kentucky Derby), I am headed to London, England to attend the Wimbledon Tennis Championship, otherwise known as the All England Lawn Tennis Championship. The Club began in 1868 as a private croquet club in another location. In 1875, lawn tennis was added to the club’s activities. And in 1877, the name officially changed to the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club. I have wanted to do Wimbledon, Indy and the Derby for most of my adult life.
In 1877, the only event held was Gentleman’s singles won by Spencer Gore, with a field of 22, and spectators numbering 200. The lawns at the Club were arranged in such a way that the main court was situated in the middle, with the others around it, hence the name, “Centre Court”. In 1922, the Club moved to its current location on Church Road. Ladies competition began in 1884, with Maud Watson winning the title with a field of 13 players. The same year, Men’s Doubles competition began.
As popularity increased, the Club improved spectator facilities. Permanent stands were installed, and by the mid 1880’s. people flocked to see the famous British Renshaw twins separately, and as doubles players. At the turn of the century, tennis became more of an international game. In 1905, May Sutton of the United States became the first overseas champion. In 1907, Norman Brookes of Australia became the first overseas Men’s Champion. Since then, there have been only two British Men’s Champions, Arthur Gore, and Fred Perry. Five British ladies have won, including Ann Jones and Virginia Wade.
Wimbledon thrived in the 20s and 30s, with the famous Four Musketeers from France (included Rene’ LaCoste, yes that one), and Bill Tilden of the U.S. who won his third title in the 30s. The late 30s were considered the Golden Era of Wimbledon, led by Fred Perry, Donald Budge, and Helen Wills Moody (from Berkeley).
During WW2, the Club stayed open but barely managed to stay operational. But soon after, American dominance of tennis was led by Jack Kramer, Tony Trabert, Maureen Connolly, and the first Black champion, Althea Gibson. Then the Autralian period continued on to the 70s with Ken Rosewall, Rod Laver, Lew Hoad, Roy Emerson, and John Newcombe.
Then in 1968, the Open era of tennis began, when Rod Laver, and Bilie Jean King won their singles titles.
In recent years, Swede Bjorn Borg, Americans Pete Sampras, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe, dominated the championships. The last few years have enjoyed the Williams Sisters, Rafael Nadal, and the incomparable Roger Federer of Switzerland. I have been fortunate to see many of the games greats play tennis, including: Pancho Gonzalez, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, Martina, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, and the infamous Renee Richards. A friend of mine, Annie Kiyomura won the women’s doubles here back in the 70s.
It will be interesting to attend this great event. I expect to stand (sit in the large, grassy park down the road) several hours in a queue to get tickets for the day’s matches. They only allow 500 day of match tickets for the grounds each day. I am sure the weather will play a big part in the length of the lines as well. Rain would be my friend to a certain extent, resulting in a shorter line (I hope). So, I will root for Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova, along with the Williams sisters, and Andy Roddick. Rafa Nadal just withdrew yesterday, so Roger the Dodger has a clear path to his 15th Slam title.
So, my flight leaves today around noon from SFO, United Airlines, Business Class. I will be there tomorrow. A few glasses of champagne, a decent meal, a movie, and about 8 hours of sleep. I plan to take a few side trips (Eurostar to Paris for the Louvre, Harrod’s Department Store, Stonehenge) when I get tired of tennis or waiting in line. See you in jolly olde………
Today, July 2, 2018: Just to update you, I went to the matches for 7 days over a 10 day period. I took a day off touring around the city, and another in Paris at the Louvre via the Chunnel. Wimbledon ranks at the top of all sporting events I have attended, along with the Indy 500 and the Kentucky Derby.
2022: I would certainly entertain attending again. It is a grand event, well organized, and so much fun. But I miss seeing the Williams sisters, Roger, and the young players like Coco, Emma, and Naomi. But as in life, tennis follows the same process.