Enjoy this 4-part Rolex documentary retracing Wimbledon’s history from Suzanne Lenglen to Rod Laver to Roger Federer. A must-see for every tennis fan.

Part 1 (1877-1939): the foundations of Wimbledon

Suzanne Lenglen, designer Ted Tinling, Gussie Moran, Bill Tilden, Jean Borotra, Henri Cochet, René Lacoste, Don Budge, Helen Wills, Fred Perry

Part 2 (1945-1977): a brand new era

Virginia Wade, Jack Kramer, Maureen Connolly, Althea Gibson, Ann Jones, Louise Brough, Harry Hopman, Ken McGregor, Rod Laver, Frank Sedgman, Cliff Drysdale, WCT, Handsome Eight, Ken Rosewall, Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong, Billie Jean King

Part 3 (1978-1999): the Golden Era

Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Chris Evert, Martina Navatilova, Steffi Graf, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi

Part 4 (2000-2011): Sampras, Federer, Venus and Serena

Pete Sampras, Pat Rafter, Roger Federer, Goran Ivanisevic, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick, John Isner, Nicolas Mahut

Extract: Serious by John McEnroe

Some people talk about my 6-1 6-2 6-2 destruction of Connors in the 1984 Wimbledon as my greatest match ever, but the truth is – between you and me – I thought Jimmy was just a little flat that day.
I was also having one of those days, when everything seemed to be going almost too right. I got out of bed in the morning feeling great, and in my practice session, the ball looked as big as a cantaloupe. Since I always manage to worry when things are going well, I stopped the session early – I was afraid of leaving my best stuff in practice.

But it just kept getting better.
In fairness, Connors had had a tough semi against Lendl, a four-set slugfest on a very hot afternoon,while I had won in three agaisnt that feisty Aussie whippersnapper Pat Cash. Cash was a tough serve-and-volleyer in that great Down-Under tadition, still a little green at nineteen, but a great athlete and a fine tennis player. I thought he was a comer – especially after he shouldered me on a changeover during the second-set tiebreaker. That, I felt, was a very interesting move: here I was, number one in the world, a two-time Wimbledon champ, one of the game’s grand old men at twenty five … This kid’s got the right attitude, I thought.

Meanwhile, my attitude had utterly changed. I had wasted too much energy at the French by getting angry, I realized; from the first match at the All England Club that year, I was determined not to do anything that would derail me from avenging Roland Garros – my only loss in fifty-two matches so fa in ’84 – and winning my hat-trick Wimbledon. I was on a five-match winning steak against Jimmy, and I felt confident I could make it six.
I just didn’t know it would be so easy.

The heat wave had continued, but I was hotter than the weather that Sunday afternoon. From the start, Connors just couldn’t find his rhythm, while I was serving unbelievably well – slicing it wide, popping it up in the middle, doing whatever I wanted. I hit seventy-four percent of my first serves in the match, with ten aces and no double faults. I had three –three – unforced errors in the match.

That’s the best I ever played

I said in the press conference afterward. It was also the best I’d ever acted at Wimbledon: The London tabloids dubbed me ‘Saint John‘.

When Novak Djokovic cut his ties with adidas in favour of agreeing a 10-year deal with Sergio Tacchini in November 2009, many saw the announcement as being no great loss. Particularly when you consider that a player of similar stature (at the time) Britain’s Andy Murray signed a long-term, multi-million pound deal with adidas shortly after. Since that point however, the man they call ‘Nole’ has been formidable, blitzing all those that come before him, winning Grand Slam titles in the process and building a huge global following. In contrast, Andy Murray has now lost in three Grand Slam finals, and until recently has been struggling for form, casting doubt over his potential to achieve his ultimate ambition of winning a major championships.

For now however, the focus has to be on Djokovic and indeed Sergio Tacchini. The Chinese-owned brand has quite rightly bombarded the homepage of its central website with images of the tennis superstar, highlighting his position as global ambassador, referencing his third Australian Open win and even launching his own clothing line. A recent post I published on the Insight Sport blog touched upon the benefits of sponsors of major sporting events such as the Olympic Games aligning themselves with a portfolio of athletes as opposed to ‘putting all their eggs in one basket’ so to speak and focusing on one specific athlete – for a company the size of Sergio Tacchini it has little choice.

With an annual revenue of less than $50 million, the sportswear brand is reliant on Djokovic continuing his excellent form, whilst it can also fall back on his long term tennis heritage, having sponsored players such as John McEnroe, Pat Cash, Martina Hingis and Goran Ivanisevic in past times. In comparison, the likes of adidas and Nike are in a different league, with both sponsoring a number of high profile tennis stars across the men’s and women’s games. And with Nike recording revenues of $2.55 billion and the adidas $4.7 billion in Q3, 2011. At this point, one can only wonder at the impact Novak Djokovic could have had as an ambassador for adidas should it have retained the World Number one as an ambassador.

However all is not lost…

Adopting a long-term perspective, should Britain’s number one win a Grand Slam – he is showing signs of improvement under new coach Ivan Lendl – the effect could go beyond that of his close friend and nemesis. Given his nationality and the popularity of tennis in the UK, his appeal would reach out not only across his homeland, but also globally, given his delay in achieving what many say is his destiny. Djokovic meanwhile has hit his mesmeric heights now, there is evidence to suggest that Murray is slowly closing the gap, whilst Djokovic’s relatively small home market of Serbia is not one of significant importance to the adidas brand.

For now, one thing is clear, Djokovic is the driving force in men’s tennis, and deserves the accolades he is receiving, and Sergio Tacchini is revelling in his successes. Until Andy Murray wins a Slam, adidas must simply face up to the fact that they missed a trick in releasing Djokovic, although should that day arrive where Murray comes face to face with destiny, expect adidas to turn around and give a big ‘I told you so’ in the direction of those who doubted.

By Andreas Plastiras

Check out Andreas’ blog Snap Shot Sport

It would have been only fitting had Pat Cash won the last Australian Open staged at Kooyong. The year was 1987, and so far it had been good to Cash, who’d won Wimbledon back in July. But there”s something special about winning your hometown championship, and Cash had grown to love the so-called “home of the wildfowl” since his days as a little boy watching his parents being coached there.

On a sunny afternoon, the centre court stands were full of nostalgic success-starved local fans as the Melbourne lad and Sweden’s Stefan Edberg staged a gripping display of serve and volley tennis until Edberg emerged a narrow winner, 6-3 6-4 3-6 5-7 6-3.

Read More

In 1988, the Australian Open moved from Kooyong to Flinders Park (now Melbourne Park) and became a hard court event. January 11, 1988 was the first day of play at the new stadium.

Play begins at the Australian Open at the new $60 million Australian National Tennis Center at Flinders Park in Melbourne with American qualifier Wendy Wood winning the first match played in the new stadium court, later to be known as Rod Laver Arena, beating number 14 seed Dianne Balestrat of Australia.
Wood, 23, defeats the top-ranked Australian woman 6-2 4-6 8-6, registering her first professional match victory. Balestrat, 31, and an Australian Open finalist in 1977, says she has some difficulty adapting to the court – the synthetic Rebound Ace – used for the first time at the Australian Open after a switch from grass courts.

Pat Cash, the number 4 seed and reigning Wimbledon champion, plays the second stadium court match and is greeted with boos and shouts from a group of anti-apartheid protestors who, in protest of Cash playing in South Africa the previous year, also throw tennis balls on the court before being escorted from the stadium. Cash is fined $5000 for swearing at a linesman in the final game of his 7-5 6-1 6-4 win over 20-year-old Thomas Muster.

Also on the day, Yannick Noah, the number 5 seed staves off two match points before overcoming Roger Smith of the Bahamas 6-7 5-7 6-4 6-2 16-14 in 4 hours 51 minutes, the longest recorded match at the time at the Australian Open.

Source: On this day in tennis history by Randy Walker