London | Wimbledon Shorts…

The 135th Championships begins at Wimbledon today, Monday, at 11am, and this year marks the centenary of the All England Lawn Tennis Club’s move to the Church Road site in 1922 and the building of Centre Court.

The event was first held in 1877, with the first women’s singles championship being staged in 1884 so this is the 128th staging of the Wimbledon women’s singles championship, and the 54th of the Open Era, which began in 1968, and saw the introduction of prize money.

Due to the pandemic, The Championships were not held in 2020 and this year will be run with a full capacity, which means up to around 42,000 people a day will be on the grounds each day.

The queue is back also after an absence of two years, with campers back in Wimbledon Park taking their positions over the weekend.

A pleasant forecast

Mixed weather conditions are forecast for the two-week period, which will likely see predominantly dry conditions with sunny spells interspersed with some showers and breezy winds.

Marco Petagna, a spokesman for the Met Office, said: “The first half of the week, the impression is a lot of bright dry weather with a small chance of showers coming in.

“It is really the second half of the week that there will be a greater chance of showers breaking out.

“Temperatures are generally going to be around average so highs of 21C.”

Mr Petagna said the second week could see more settled weather, although confidence in the longer-term forecast is lower.

“The trend is that things get a bit more settled as we head into July, so a better chance of more settled weather developing in that second week, and possibly a little bit warmer as well.”

Pledges for Ukraine

Hubert Hurkacz is pledging 100 euros for every ace he serves up at Wimbledon to aid the Ukraine relief effort.

The Polish 7th seed has a power game suited to grass courts and is 3rd on the list of number of aces hit on the ATP Tour this year with 452, behind big-serving Americans John Isner and Reilly Opelka.

Seventy of Hurkacz’s aces have come from just 6 matches on grass, with the 25-year-old winning last week’s tune-up event at Halle, where he beat World No 1Daniil Medvedev in the final.

“I’d like to announce that starting tomorrow I am pledging to donate 100 euros for every ace I hit at Wimbledon to help support the people of Ukraine,” he posted on Twitter. “Hope my serve works well!”

Hurkacz begins his Wimbledon campaign against Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the first round on Monday.

Wimbledon has excluded players from Russia and Belarus from competing this year because of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, which President Vladimir Putin continues to call a ‘special operation’.

Banned for one year only

Wimbledon’s decision to ban players from Russia and Belarus may not last beyond this year, according to Sally Bolton, the Chief Executive of the AELTC.

“The decision we’ve made is for this year’s championships only,” Bolton told Bloomberg Breakfast with David Merritt. “But we still believe it was the right decision for us to take. It’s impossible to call where we’ll be this time next year.”

In April, Wimbledon announced it would ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing, resulting in the exclusion of several highly ranked players such as the World No 1 Daniil Medvedev, and Aryna Sabalenka, ranked 6th.

“It was an incredibly difficult decision to take and we deeply regret the impact it will have on those affected individuals.”

Bolton added that the organisation had followed the guidance set out by the UK government, noting circumstances may be different elsewhere.

Two of this year’s other Grand Slams, Roland Garros in Paris and the US Open, decided to let Russians and Belarusians play.


Jelena Ostapenko has offered a home in Latvia to her Ukrainian coach and doubles partner

© Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Ostapenko offers Ukrainian coach a home in Latvia

Jelena Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion, offered her coach Stas Khmarsky and doubles partner Lyudmyla Kichenok, who are both from Ukraine, a home in Riga, Latvia, after Paris.

When war broke out, both Khmarsky and Kichenok ensured their respective mothers were able to leave the country, but they still have friends and family stuck in the heart of the conflict.

“They like the city. Riga is nice,” said 25-year old Ostapenko, who says she thinks they will return to her home country after Wimbledon too.

“And also, because most of the people in Ukraine speak Russian, also, and a lot of people in Latvia, like 50 per cent of people, speak Russian.

“So maybe they feel a little bit better than in other cities where nobody really speaks it.”

No more Barley Water

The squash brand Robinsons and Wimbledon have ended their sponsorship partnership after 86 years, apparently by mutual agreement after the staging of last year’s Championships.

Neither party, though, made an official statement about it until Robinsons recently revealed the news on its official Twitter account.

The arrangement was one of the longest-running sponsorship deals in sport, having been set up in 1935.

“Robinsons is no longer sponsoring Wimbledon fortnight and this year will be celebrating the whole of summer with The Big Fruit Hunt – an interactive opportunity to find virtual fruit and win real prizes,” Robinsons replied to a question from a follower.

The Robinsons brand became synonymous with Wimbledon and enjoyed discrete on-court branding with a logo and 4 barley water drinks bottles appearing underneath the umpire’s chair.

SportBusiness reports cracks in the relationship first started to emerge after the two parties failed to agree about how Britvic could activate its sponsorship rights, with the drinks company wanting to promote all of its drinks brands through the deal, but the AELTC is understood to have had reservations about being associated with other sugary soft drinks.

“After more than 80 years, we can confirm that the partnership between the AELTC and Robinsons has come to an end,” the Club stated. “We are tremendously proud of the historic association with Robinsons over so many years, and thank them for the wider role they have played in supporting Wimbledon and tennis across the UK.”

Gender-neutral loos

The installation of controversial gender-neutral toilets on the grounds at Wimbledon is causing a bit of a stir.

The new signs popped up at staff facilities near the main entrance to the Club, and these neutral toilets are now open for fans after being added as part of a Logistics Hub built during the pandemic in 2020.

Not everyone is pleased with the development, with one long-time female fan saying: “Wimbledon is about tradition, it doesn’t have to follow every fad.”

Single-sex toilets will still be available throughout the grounds.

The Club has already been criticised this year for removing the titles ‘Miss’ and ‘Mrs’ on the honours board, while Umpires ditched using those gender terms in match announcements in 2019 and the ‘His and Hers’ coloured towels were dropped last year.


A security office walks past a giant screen broadcasting archives videos of matches at the start of the first day of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships

© Sebastien Bozon/AFP via Getty Images

Halep hails Raducanu

Former World No 1 and 2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep says Emma Raducanu’s success last year in winning the US Open is ‘inspiring many kids’ in Romania.

Britain’s Raducanu, whose father is Romanian, won an army of fans after her stunning win in New York.

“Many people were following her when she won US Open,” Halep said. “I feel like the country was happy for her. Her being half Romanian means a lot also for the Romanians.

“Many kids are following her. I think she inspired many kids back in Romania, so it’s a good thing for our country.”

Raducanu has cited the 30-year-old as one of her idols and the pair almost played twice at the back end of last season, including in Romania, but they have not formed a relationship yet.

“We haven’t hit,” Halep said. “Tried once, but it didn’t work. We speak just a little bit. But we don’t have long conversations.

“So no, we are not friends; we are just colleagues on the tour.”

This is Halep’s first return to Wimbledon since winning the 2019 title, having seen the 2020 edition cancelled due to Covid-19, and then missing last year through injury.

Swiatek ‘overwhelmed’ to see Serena

Although Serena Williams arrived for her practice session on Centre Court just moments before Swiatek finished, however the two did not cross paths.

“I saw her yesterday, I was pretty overwhelmed,” said Swiatek, the recently-crowned French Open champion. “I didn’t know how to react.

“I wanted to meet her. I saw that she had so many people around her. I don’t know her team. It was pretty weird, but just seeing her around is great because she’s such a legend, there’s nobody that has done so much in tennis.”

Williams, a 7-time champion at the All England Club and still chasing an elusive 24th Grand Slam title, will be playing her first singles match since her tearful, injury-enforced withdrawal last year.

“I’m pretty sure that she’s going to be in good shape because she has so much experience coming back from breaks or just playing in Grand Slams,” said the 21-year-old, who wasn’t even born when Williams made her Wimbledon debut in 1998. “I think she can use it,”

Disappointed to miss out

Another Wimbledon tradition is for the defending women’s champion to open Centre Court action on the first Tuesday, something Simona Halep was not able to do due to her absence last year.

With 2021 champion Ash Barty now retired, there was an opening, but tournament officials instead gave the slot to World No 1 Iga Swiatek because the Romanian pulled out of Bad Homburg last week with a neck injury and her participation was left uncertain.

“I’ve said this too much to say. But I can say that I feel sad that I missed it because I was injured, so I couldn’t really take the chance,” Halep said. “It would have been very nice to open the tournament.

“But my chance is gone. So probably, in this life, I can have another chance, so I will look forward to that. Not that simple, but I’m going to work for that.”

 


Andy Murray, seen here serving during a practice session, has no interest in playing in Saudi Arabia

© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

No interest in Saudi Arabia

Andy Murray has reiterated that he has no interest in accepting a lucrative appearance fee to contest a tournament in Saudi Arabia.

The 3-times Grand Slam champion rejected a 7-figure offer to play in the Diriyah Cup in Riyadh 3 years ago, and there has been fresh interest from the Saudi regime in tennis after the controversial launch of the LIV Golf Series.

It is understood to be applying for the hosting of an ATP or WTA tournament rather than starting a breakaway rival tour.

“They put on an event in Saudi Arabia a few years ago and I was offered to play there,” Murray, 35, said. “I know a number of the other guys on the tour were offered to play there.

“I don’t think the player field that went was what they [the Saudi organisers] were hoping [for]. A lot of the top players turned it down. I wouldn’t go and play there.”

Reports indicate that the WTA, which pulled out of China last year over concerns for the welfare of Peng Shuai after the player accused a Chinese Vice Premier of sexual assault and later disappeared from public view, has received an approach from Saudi Arabia to host a tournament, possibly the Tour Finals.

The WTA, however, has not entertained the prospect of a tournament there in any formal fashion.

“As a global organisation, we are appreciative of inquiries received from anywhere in the world and we look seriously at what each opportunity may bring,” WTA Amy Binder said in a statement.

It was a significant financial blow for the WTA to pull out of China, which had paid a record $14 million in prize money in 2019, the first year of the agreement.

That was double the amount of prize money from 2018, when the WTA Finals finished its 5-year run in Singapore.

The WTA relocated the finals last year to Guadalajara, Mexico, which offered only $5 million in prize money and a drastically reduced payment for the right to host the event.

WTA leaders have yet to announce the WTA Finals host city for 2022, and it remains a challenge, with the longer-term Shenzhen deal still in place, to find candidates interested in bidding for the Finals for just one year, although there seems to some interest in doing so from the LTA.

Wimbledon’s IBM’s AI-powered app

Wimbledon has again partnered with IBM as the tournament’s official mobile app (iOS and Android) and website, which are designed to keep fans up to date with all the action.

The software is powered by AI running on IBM Cloud and hybrid cloud technologies.

A new feature for this year is ‘Win Factors’, which offers fans an increased understanding of the elements affecting player performance, such as court surface, ATP/WTA rankings, head-to-head history, ratio of games won, recent performance, yearly success, and media punditry.

Another new feature is ‘Have Your Say’, an interactive prediction tool that lets fans register their own forecasts for match outcomes and then compare their analysis with the aggregated predictions of other fans and IBM’s AI-powered Likelihood to Win forecast.

Other features include:

  • Live scores, results, and match statistics from every match on every court.
  • Live video on The Wimbledon Channel from around the grounds from the start of play until the last point is played each day. Coverage also includes match clips, interviews, and special features.
  • A live radio feed offers daily coverage of the tournament, including ball-by-ball commentary from games on Centre Court and No.1 Court.
  • Videos highlights, behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with players and those connected with the tournament, match previews, and footage of classic matches from over the years.
  • Profiles of all of the players taking part in what is one of the most highly anticipated events on the sporting calendar.
  • Personalised player-related alerts and play status
  • Daily order of play and tournament schedule.
  • The full draws
  • All the latest news from the tournament.

BBC presenter Sue Barker, who will retire after the tournament, is pictured on the first day of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships

© Adrian Dennis/AFP via Getty Images

BBC Coverage

This will be the final Wimbledon broadcast for Sue Barker, who is joined in presenting duties on the BBC by former England cricketer Isa Guha.

Guha opens the BBC’s coverage daily before handing over to Barker, while Clare Balding reprises her role in hosting the ‘Today At Wimbledon’ highlights show.

The BBC have engaged an impressive collection of former players to act as pundits and commentators for their Wimbledon broadcast, including John McEnroe, Billie Jean King, Pat Cash and Martina Navratilova as former winners of the Championships Wimbledon, while other former players lending their voices to the broadcast include two-time US Open champion Tracy Austin, former World No 1 Caroline Wozniacki, Kim Ciljsters and now-veteran broadcaster Annabel Croft.

Match commentary is provided by Chris Bradnam, James Burridge, Andrew Castle, Matt Chilton, Kim Clijsters, Andrew Cotter, Kat Downes, Jo Durie, Colin Fleming, Peter Fleming, Paul Hand, John Inverdale, Abigail Johnson, David Law, Nick Lester, John Lloyd, Miles MacLagan, Ronald McIntosh, Alison Mitchell, Nick Mullins, Pete Odgers, Arvind Parmar, Louise Pleming, Simon Reed, Sam Smith, Liz Smylie, Mel South and Andy Stevenson.

UK based fans can watch Wimbledon live on the BBC from 11:00 (BST) daily (10:30 on day one), with coverage on BBC One, BBC Two and BBC iPlayer.

Multi-court coverage is available on BBC iPlayer, the Red Button, the BBC Sport app and the BBC Sport website.

Strawberries

Fans will be delighted that the cost strawberries at Wimbledon remains at £2.50 a pop, where nearly 200,000 punnets of strawberries and cream are sold at around the grounds in a tradition which dates back to King Henry VIII.

Now a staple of the Championships, strawberries and cream has been the signature dish since 1877, dating back to Henry VIII’s penchant for snacking on them while watching tennis at Hampton Court Palace.

In 2019, the last Covid-free Championships, Wimbledon sold 191,930 portions, with each punnet apparently containing 10 strawberries of Grade One quality from a LEAF-registered Kent farm.

The berries are picked at 4am, collected from the packing plant at 9am and delivered for inspection and hulling before being enjoyed that same day.

The cream is sourced from Rodda’s in Cornwall and about 7,000 litres are used, with vegan options available.

Fish and chips, though, is the most popular main meal, with 18,061 portions sold over the 2019 fortnight.


Previous

Next

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.