Wimbledon is already underway. I am not as enthusiastic about this since my boy Rafa is struggling to hold his serve in the first round as we speak. But I’ve decided to list my reasons to love this Grand Slam and all the traditions that make it unique. Maybe this will cheer me up.
1. It’s played on grass.
The only Grand Slam left to do so. The US and Aussie Open used to be played on grass too, a long time ago, but now only Wimbledon is left. Grass is supposedly very difficult because the ball doesn’t bounce as high, is very fast, and travels unpredictably. So it’s perfect for serve-and-volleyers like Sampras and Borg. Though of course we know even those who are mostly baseliners or grinders like Nadal can succeed. Grass can also be very slippery, so every year you see some pretty interesting falls (as long as nobody gets hurt, of course).
|Sampras equaled Emerson’s then-record of 12 Slams at Wimbledon, and is
tied with Federer for most singles titles at 7./www.totalprosports.com
2. Tennis whites.
Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam tournament that requires players to wear predominantly white clothing. You’ll find no garish neon shirts, loud colors or abysmally designed tennis dresses here *coughSerenacough*. This gives The Championships a serene and pristine air about it.
3. There’s only one players’ box.
At Wimbledon, unlike the other Grand Slams, the players’ families and friends have to sit in one box only. They are literally sitting in two rows, one in front of the other. You can imagine the dilemma this gives their supporters – can you be as loud as you want while cheering for your guy? How much do you have to dial it down as consideration for the other side? And the camera’s numerous and frequent cutaways to the two girlfriends, showing the two extremes of emotions – one is almost always biting her nails while the other is pumping her fists – are as entertaining as the match itself.
4. Strawberries and cream.
Do you know any other Grand Slam, let alone any other sports event, where strawberries and cream are routinely consumed by the spectators? Only at Wimbledon!
5. Players have to leave together after every match, and curtsey to the Royal Box.
Losers can’t just skulk away or throw tantrums while heading to the locker rooms. Both players have to leave the court together, which also means the winner can’t go around basking in his victory and keeping the loser waiting. And if the Queen or Prince of Wales is present, both players have to curtsey to the Royal Box together. How classy.
6. Wimbledon has its own seeding system.
Wimbledon doesn’t care if you’re No. 1 in the ATP rankings. Wimbledon will just give you a very stiff and British, “Oh. Jolly good. Well done.” and then go right back and seed you No. 10. Their rankings are based on the performance of the players at the championships. So even if you happen to be No. 12 in the world, but you’ve won the trophy a couple of times, you can still be the top seed. Sort of puts the players in their place.
7. Women are called Miss or Mrs. when announcing the scores.
So unlike in the other Grand Slams it’s, “Game, Miss Sharapova.” And it’s the Gentlemen’s, not just Men’s Singles. Very polite.
8. It’s actually The Championships of a very elite club.
What we all know as Wimbledon is actually The Championships of the All England Lawn Tennis Club. And the club is so elite that only tournament winners get to become members. And also if you happen to have made any notable contributions to tennis. But the winners become lifetime members. All for winning seven matches.
9. No sponsors’ ads around the court.
Look closely. The sidelines are unmarred!
10. The Centre Court tradition.
It’s such a given that it’s become one of the perks of winning the Championships – the next year, you know you’ll be playing the 2 pm opener at Centre Court. It’s the place of honor awarded to Champions, like kicking off the festivities. It announces to the world that whatever happens this year and for at least one match, you’re still the reigning Champion. Champion coming through!
Wimbledon is pretty awesome. It only becomes not awesome if Nadal doesn’t win. It’s not looking particularly promising this year but still, vamos Rafa.
|Nadal won in an epic final in 2008, so epic that if it had lasted one more point,
it would have been too dark to continue./www.mirror.co.uk