Wimbledon Centre Court roof

If you are intrigued by what goes on behind the scenes at Wimbledon, Chris Gorringe‘s book Holding Court is a must-read. Gorringe tells the story of his 26 years journey as All England Club chief executive. The book is full of anecdotes about legendary players (McEnroe, Sampras, Borg to name a few), but also describes in details the structure of the Club, the organization of the Championships, and Wimbledon’s Long Term Plan.
A few pages are of course dedicated to the Centre Court roof, which has been the real star of the 125th Championships so far.

Enjoy of few extracts of Holding Court:

“When we had first laid out the LTP (Long Term Plan) in the 90s, a retractable roof had been possible in as much as the technology was available, but what had not been proved to our satisfaction was that you could have a sliding roof that would work for grass court tennis. We had not seen a roof design that would: retain the grass at a quality that would withstand two weeks of play, and that would not make it sweat and be slippery; that would provide the right ambiance for the spectators; and that would allow grass to grow for the rest of the year.”

Australian Open roof vs Wimbledon roof

“We did not have all the answers, but certain members of the media and our committee wanted it as they had be to the Australian Open and seen the roof in action there.
However, the Australians had a different set of circumstances. When they moved from Kooyong’s private members’ club to Flinders Park (now Melbourne Park), in order to finance the set-up, the main centre court had to be a stadium design, not just a tennis arena. They needed the stadium to be used for as many days a year as possible, for concerts or whatever, which meant adding a roof but saying goodbye to grass. Once grass is taken out of the equation, the addition of a roof becomes very much easier.
Theirs is infinitely heavier than ours, is not translucent in any way, and is presumably specially designed in order for it to work well for concerts or musical events: there is no escape of noise or light through their roof. As well as having the roof over the main stadium at Melbourne Park, they have also built an adjacent stadium – again another multi-purpose building with a roof on it.”

Wimbledon Centre Court roof

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Check out Get behind the scenes at Roland Garros – part 1

Ladies locker room:

The highlight of the tour is when you get to go inside the ladies dressing room. But you might be surprised at how small the locker rooms are:

Roland Garros

Roland Garros

Roland Garros

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Only 20 sentences dedicated by Andre Agassi to his 2001 Australian Open win in his autobiography Open? The Australian Open, a tournament he “loves some much”…… as much as he loves tennis, or not.

Sure, there’s not much to say about his 6-4 6-2 6-2 routine win over the surprising Arnaud Clément.

Agassi-Clément

Extract from Agassi’s biography:

“In January we fly to Australia. I feel good when we land. I do love this place. I must have been an aborigine in another life. I always feel at home here. I always enjoy walking into Rod Laver Arena, playing under Laver’s name.

I bet Brad that I’m going to win the whole thing. I can feel it. And when I do, he will have to jump the Yarra River.
I batter my way to the semis and face Rafter again. We play three hours of hammer-and-tong tennis, filled with endless I-grunt-you-grunt rallies.
He’s ahead, two sets to one. Then he withers. The Australian heat. We’re both drenched with sweat, but he’s cramping. I win the next two sets.

In the final I face Clément, a grudge match four months after he knocked me out of the US Open. I rarely leave the baseline. I make few mistakes, and those I do make, I put quickly behind me.
Clément is muttering to himself in French, I feel a serene calm. My mother’s son. I beat him in straight sets.

Agassi-Clément

Andre Agassi

It’s my seventh Slam, putting me tenth on the all-time list. I’m tied with McEnroe, Wilander, and others – one ahead of Becker and Edberg.
Wilander and I are the only ones to win three Australian Opens in the Open era. At the moment, however, all I care is seeing Brad do the backstroke in the Yarra, then getting home to Stefanie.”

Steffi Graf and Brad Gilbert

Steffi’s last Grand Slam win: Graf defeats Hingis 4-6 7-5 6-2

A must see match, not really for the quality of the match, but for all the drama. I remember watching this match on TV way back in 99. Never seen such a crazy match before.
Hingis, was the clear favorite to win the title: at only 19, the then world number 1 was seeking the only Grand Slam still missing to her collection. Graf, 29, was playing her first Grand Slam final since her victory against rival Monica Seles at the 96 US Open.

Everything started well for the Swiss Miss, leading 6-4 2-0, but the drama started and a single point completely changed the course of the match. Hingis disputed a line call and went round the net to Steffi’s side to show the ball mark.

Martina Hingis

Steffi Graf - Martina Hingis

Martina Hingis

From then on, the crowd was rooting for Graf, booing Hingis. Hingis served for the match at 5-4 but Steffi broke and won the set 7-5. Graf took the control of the match.

Steffi Graf - Martina Hingis

Steffi Graf

Martina Hingis

Trailing 5-2 in the third and serving to stay in the match, Hingis faced double match point. She hit an underarmed serve, argued again with the umpire. Graf finally converted her third match point.

Martina Hingis

Martina Hingis

Steffi Graf - Martina Hingis

But the drama wasn’t over: Hingis left the court at the end of the match, but came back, crying in the arms of her mother.

Martina Hingis

Martina Hingis

No question, the chair umpire was bad, but Hingis behaviour was really disrespectful as she acted like a spoiled kid. I really wonder how Graf could remain so calm and focused after all that Hingis’ whining and arguing.

Steffi Graf

Steffi Graf

Graf reached the finals at Wimbledon a month later (lost to Lindsay Davenport), and retired a few weeks later:

I have done everything I wanted to do in tennis. I feel I have nothing left to accomplish. The weeks following Wimbledon weren’t easy for me. I was not having fun anymore. After Wimbledon, for the first time in my career, I didn’t feel like going to a tournament. My motivation wasn’t what it was in the past.

Graf turned professional in 1982, when she was 13 years and four months old. She won her first tournament in April 1986, beating Chris Evert in Hilton Head. She won 107 singles titles, 22 Grand Slams (7 Wimbledon, 6 French Open, 5 US Open, and four singles titles at the Australian Open).
She was ranked World No. 1 for 186 consecutive weeks (from August 1987 to March 1991, still the record in the women’s game) and a record total 377 weeks overall.

This French Open final was also the beginning of the end for Hingis: she was ousted by Jelena Dokic in the first round at Wimbledon in one of the biggest upsets in tennis history. She bounced back to reach the finals at the 99 US Open and at the 2000, 2001 and 2002 Australian Open but didn’t win any other major. In 2003 she announced her retirement from tennis, she returned to the tour in 2006 and retired definitely after testing positive for cocaine during Wimbledon in 2007.

Wimbledon Centre Court

Men’s Wimbledon tennis statistics:

Open era records (since 1968):
Most titles, singles: Pete Sampras, 7 (1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000) and Roger Federer, 5 (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012)
Most titles in a row, singles: Bjorn Borg, 5 (1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980) and Roger Federer, 5 (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007)
Most titles, doubles: Todd Woodbridge, 9 (1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000 (with Mark Woodforde), 2002, 2003, 2004 (with Jonas Björkman))
Most titles, mixed doubles: Owen Davidson, 3 (1971, 1973, 1974 (with Billie Jean King))
Most titles, all events: Todd Woodbridge, 9
Youngest winner, singles: Boris Becker, 17
Longest men’s final by time: Rafael Nadal d Roger Federer, 2008, 4 hours and 48 mins
Longest men’s final by games: Roger Federer d Andy Roddick, 2009, 77 games
Longest men’s match by time: John Isner d Nicolas Mahut, 2010, 11 hours and 5 mins
Longest men’s match by games: John Isner d Nicolas Mahut, 2010, 183 games

Court 18

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