Whereas the tennis world was focused on stormy US Open, I was enjoying a few days in sunny London during the Paralympics.
Wandering round London, it was nearly impossible to avoid the Paralympics.

The Olympic Park

East London has undergone major development in the last few years to transform it into the centrepiece of London 2012.
Most Olympic and Paralympic events took place at the ground-breaking 2.5 square km Olympic Park in Stratford. The most distinctive venues in the Olympic Park are the Olympic Stadium, that played host to the Olympic and the Paralympic Athletics as well as all the opening and closing ceremonies, Zaha Hadid’s Aquatics Centre and the Velodrome, nicknamed the Pringle.

The Olympic Stadium and the Orbit

The Olympic Aquatics Centre

The Orbit and the Olympic Stadium

The Olympic Park from Tennis Buzz on Vimeo.

The Olympic Park has now closed its doors and will remain shut for at least a year while venues are dismantled.
While the fate of the Olympic Stadium remains uncertain, three of the eight sports venues (the temporary basketball, water polo and Riverbank arenas) will disappear.
As for the four remaining venues:
– Zaha Hadid’s Aquatics Centre will shed its wings, reducing the seating capacity from 17500 to 2500. It will host training and competitions and will be open to the public.
– the Velodrome will be the heart of the new Lee Valley Velopark, including the Olympic BMX track and new bike trails, café and hire and workshop facilities.
– the Copper Box, the multi-use arena, will host a myriad of sports as well as concerts and corporate events upon reopening, with a gym, exercise studio and café.
Eton Manor, that hosted the Wheelchair tennis competition will become a permanent home for the Lee Valley Hockey Centre and the Lee Valley Tennis Centre, and is scheduled to host the European Hockey Championships in 2015.

The site will reopen as the Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park in 2014.

The Games Makers

The purple Games Makers uniforms have become synonymous with the London 2012 Games: thousands of volunteers took to the streets to inform and guide the athletes, officials and fans:

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London 2012 Games Makers

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Every year a dedicated area of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum changes, out with the old in with the new.

The 2012 exhibition has been dedicated to the Olympic Games, each graphic panel tells the story of tennis at the games. The exhibition uses gold, silver and bronze as lead colours throughout the exhibition, referencing the Olympics. Each panel features portraits of Olympic competitors through the history of the games, giving an insight of what it was like to be part of the greatest game in history.

The exhibition tells the stories of John Boland, the first Olympic tennis champion, Titanic survivor Richard Williams and his mixed doubles partner Hazel Wightman who triumphed in 1924, and the completion of Steffi Graf‘s Golden Slam in 1988 at Seoul.

The gold medals of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer from the 2008 Beijing Olympics are on display, as is Tim Henman‘s silver medal from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the gold medal won by Peter Norfolk in the 2004 Athens Paralympics.

Find out how to visit the Wimbledon Museum

Pics: 1977 design

Andre Agassi, Wimbledon 1992

Extract of Andre Agassi‘s autobiography Open:

The talent assembled in London in 1992 is stunning. There’s Courier, ranked number one, fresh off two slam victories. There’s Pete, who keeps getting better. There’s Stefan Edberg, who’s playing out of his mind. I’m the twelfth seed, and the way I’ve been playing I should be seeded lower.

In my first-round match, against Andrei Chesnokov, from Russia, I play like a low seed. I lose the first set. Frustrated, I rip into myself, curse myself, and the umpire gives an official warning for saying fuck. I almost turn on him and fire a few fuck-fuck-fucks. Instead I decide to shock him, shock everyone, by taking a breath and being composed. Then I do something more shocking. I win the next three sets.

I’m in the quarters. Against Becker, who’s reached six o the last seven Wimbledon finals. This is his de facto home court, his honey hole. But I’ve been seeing his serve well lately. I win in five sets, played over two days.

In the semis I face McEnroe, three time Wimbledon champion. He’s thirty-three, nearing the end of his career, and unseeded. Given his underdog status, and his legendary accomplishments, the fans want him to win, of course. Part of me wants him to win also. But I beat him in three sets. I’m in the final.
I’m expecting to face Pete, but he loses his semifinal match to Goran Ivanisevic, a big, strong serving machine from Croatia. I’ve played Ivanisevic twice before, and both times he’s shellacked me in straight sets. So I feel for Pete, and I know I’ll be joining him soon. I have no chance against Ivanisevic. It’s a middleweight versus a heavyweight. The only suspense is whether it will be a knowkout or a TKO.

As powerful as Ivanisevic’s serve is under normal circumstances, today it’s a work of art. He’s acing me left and right, monster serves that the speed gun clocks at 138 miles an hour. But it’s not just the speed, it’s the trajectory. They land at a 75-degree angle.
[…] He wins the first set, 7-6. I don’t break him once. I concentrate on not overeacting, on beathing in, beathing out, remaining patient. When the thought crosses my mind that I’m on losing my fourth slam final, I casually set that thought aside. In the second set Ivanisevic gives me a few freebies, makes a few mistakes and I break him. I take the second set, then the third. Which makes me feel almost worse, because once again I’m a set away from a slam.
Ivanisevic rises up in the fourth set and destroys me. I’ve made the Croat mad. He loses only a handful of points in the process. Here we go again. I can see tomorrow’s headlines as plain as the racket in my hand. As the fifth set begins I run in place to get the blood flowing and tell myself one thing: You want this. You do not want to lose, not this time. The problem in the last three slams was that you didn’t want them enough, and therefore you didn’t bring it, but this one you want, so this time you need to let Ivanisevic and everyone else in this joint know you want it.

Now Ivanisevic’s serving at 4-5. He double faults. Twice. He’s down 0-30. I haven’t broken this guy in the last hour and a half and now he’s breaking himself. He misses another first serve.He’s coming apart. I know it. I see it. No one knows better than I what coming apart looks like. A puff of chalk shoots up as if he hit the line with an assault rifle. Then he hits another uneturnable serve. Suddenly it’s 30-all.
He misses another first serve, makes the second. I crush a return, he hits a half volley, I run and pass him and start the long walk back to the baseline. I tell myself, You can win this thing with just one swing. One swing. You’ve never been this close. You may never be again. […]

He tosses the ball, serves to my backhand; I jump in the air, swing with all my strength , but I’m so tight that the ball to his backhand side has mediocre pace. Somehow he misses the easy volley.

His ball smacks the net and just like that, after twenty-two years and twenty-two million swings of a tennis racket, I’m the 1992 Wimbledon champion.

From McEnroe‘s autobiography Serious:

Connors was never intimidated by anyone – at least he never looked that way – and he was in the midst of an amazing year. From the jump, we played a very aggressive final, nothing like either of my last two against Borg, where the play had been more consistently fine, but also more subdued.
Every match I ever played against Jimmy was like a prizefight. At Wimbledon that day, I was ahead two sets to one, we went to tiebreaker in the fourth, and then I was three points from winning the match. Yet somehow, I just could’t dig deep enough to pull it out – maybe Jimmy was just hungrier. In retrospect, I should’ve said to myself, ‘Don’t let it go to a fifth set – stop him here or you’re finished.’

But I didn’t stop him, and when we went to the fifth, I think my body language showed what I was really feeling: between my ankle and my state of mind, I had done well just getting this far in the tournament. And that was as far as I went in the longest final in Wimbledon history.
Connors pulled off an amazing feat – he won his second Wimbledon eight years after his first – and I would have to wait another twelve months before I could prove I wasn’t a flash in the pan.”

Wimbledon Centre Court

All Wimbledon 2012 posts are tagged Wimbledon and are listed up below:

The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club:

Wimbledon guided tour – part 1
Wimbledon guided tour – part 2
Wimbledon Centre Court roof
Court 3 : a new Show Court at Wimbledon
Waiting in the Queue to Wimbledon
Wimbledon Museum: The Queue exhibition
The Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum: Player Memorabilia

Fashion and gear:

Caroline Wozniacki adidas outfit for Wimbledon 2012
Rafael Nadal Nike oufit
Roger Federer Nike oufit
Maria Sharapova Nike dress
Serena Williams Nike dress
Petra Kvitova Nike oufit
Li Na Nike oufit
adidas players outfits: Ivanovic, Kirilenko, Murray and Tsonga
Kim Clijsters Fila Collection

Marketing

Wimbledon 2012 Sponsorship Activation
Evian launches the ball hunt for fans to win tickets to Wimbledon

A trip down memory lane:

Wimbledon Trivia
Wimbledon past champions: stats and records
Wimbledon ‘s biggest upsets
Rod Laver – John Newcombe Wimbledon 1969
Bjorn Borg – Ilie Nastase Wimbledon 1976
Virginia Wade, Britain’s last Wimbledon champion
1981: First Wimbledon title for McEnroe
1982: Jimmy Connors defeats John McEnroe
1984: John McEnroe defeats Jimmy Connors
Wimbledon 1991: the first Middle Sunday
1992: first Grand Slam for Andre Agassi
1993: Pete Sampras defeats Jim Courier
2000 Wimbledon SF: Pat Rafter defeats Andre Agassi
2000 Wimbledon Final: Pete Sampras defeats Pat Rafter
2001 Wimbledon 4th round: Federer defeats Sampras
The Spirit of Wimbledon: a 4-part documentary by Rolex retracing Wimbledon history

Recap and analysis:

The biggest upset in tennis history: Rosol defeats Rafael Nadal

Polls:

Who will win Wimbledon 2012?