Streaker during the Wimbledon 1996 final

Extract from Tennis’s strangest matches by Peter Seddon:

The apparent obsession of the All England Lawn Tennis and Crocquet Club with the state of dress or undress of competitors was completely put in the shade on the sunny afternoon of Sunday 7 July 1996 when someone employed within the very grounds of the club itself finally went all the way.

A touch of ankle, no stockings, shorts for women, shorts for men, mini-dresses, halter-neck tops; thus progressed over the yeas the gradual erosion of dress-code ‘decency’ so highly valued by Wimbledon’s self-appointed arbiters of good taste.

By the time Anne White took the all-white rule to its logical conclusion by appearing on Court 2 in 1985 in a figure-hugging, neck-to-ankle white body-suit there was surely little left for the players to try.
Miss White, by the way, was censured for her action as, to coin a phrase first used by the Wimbledon authorities in 1949 over the Gussy Moran panties saga, her costume ‘drew too much attention to the sexual area’. Anne agreed to cover up, later musing,

“I didn’t want to put anyone off their strawberries and cream.”

So what next? Competitors playing naked? Not even Wimbledon were yet fearful of that one, but as a good second best there had been talk for a number of years of the likelihood of steakers defiling the sacred greensward.

Ever since Michael O’Brien had his embarrassment covered by a policman’s helmet in a rugby match at Twickenham in 1974, sport had experienced a streaking epidemic. In 1982 Erica Roe bounced on to the scene, again at Twickenham, and since then no sport has been safe. Cricket leads the way but even the more theatrical setting of snooker and the sedate conservatism of bowls have been hit.

No one had dared to try it on Wimbledon’s Centre Court, but prior to the 1996 Championships William Hill bookmakers were offering just 4-1 on a streaker interrupting Centre Court play during the men’s final. It was almost bound to become a self-fulfilling prophecy, although when it did the spectacle was reserved only for the match preliminaries.

Men’s final, Sunday 7 July 1996. Fourteen thousand spectators on Centre Court and a packed royal box. Finalists Richard Krajicek and Malivai Washington pose for photographs at the net prior to warm-up.
Enter 23-year-old blonde London student Melissa Johnson, taking a break from her summer-holiday catering duties in the grounds to leap over a barrier and run the length of the court waering just a minuscule maid’s apron. Sporting a huge smile, Miss Johnson lifted her apron to give both players an eyeful and then proceeded to do likewise for the royals before being led away by a gentleman of the law.

Would the royals be offended? The Duke and Duchess of Kent and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent were visibly amused. Seventeen-year-old Lord Frederick Windsor looked as if he hadn’t enjoyed a tennis match so much for years and the knock-up hadn’t even begun.
As for the players, they laughed too. Malivai Washington walked back to the baseline to begin his warm-up, lifted his shirt to reveal his bare chest and received a huge ovation.

The streak was, in its way, both the most sensational and remarkably unsensational event in Wimbledon’s 119-year history. All over in a flash and scarcely an offended soul to be found.
The club that had held its breath filled with dread for so long issued a formal statement:

“Whilst we do not wish to condone the practice, it did at least provide some light amusement for our loyal and patient supporters, who have had a trying time during the recent bad weather.”

Melissa was taken to Wimbledon police station for the duration of the final and released without further action.
As for the match itself, we mustn’t forget, that Krajicek became the first Dutchman to win Wimbledon, sweeping aside the unseeded American 6-3 6-4 6-3 in 94 minutes.

It was the day the Wimbledon ice was finally and irredeemably broken. Even the beaten finalist shrugged his shoulders and gave a disarming interview:

“I look over and see this streaker. She lifted up the apron and she was smiling at me. I got flustered and three sets later I was gone; that was pretty funny,” said Washington, clutching his loser’s cheque for £196,250.

Cliff Richard, Wimbledon 1996

Extract from Tennis’s strangest matches by Peter Seddon:

A quarter-final match between Dutchman Richard Krajicek and three-in-a-row Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras always promised much but no one could have predicted such a stirring response as that given by the Guardian when it was all over:

“Something magical happened in Centre Court on Wednesday 3 July, an event in its own way every bit as much a testament to the fortitude of the native British spirit as Elizabeth I’s rallying of the troops against the Armada some years back. “

Yet bizarrely it wasn’t the tennis that made this match so strangely memorable, but what happened when the rains came and the tennis stopped.

At a Wimbledon already badly interrupted by inclement weather, the last thing a troubled refeee and the increasingly fractious crowsds wanted was a wet Wednesday. But they got it all the same. After play began at 12.30, games were just 2-all in the first set when the heavens opened yet again. Three hours later, with the green covers raised tent-like over the court, it was still bucketing down.

Sandwiches had been eaten, books read, crosswords finished and British resolve tested to such limits that the bedraggled crowd were beginning to look mighty glum.

Enter Sir Cliff Richard, the Peter Pan of Pop, an avid regular at the Championships.

“Would he, perchance, be prepared to deliver a song or two to raise the flagging spirits of the Centre Court faithful?” ventured a Wimbledon official.

Cliff answered in the affirmative and it was just like the war all over again. Appearing in the royal box with a microphone, the 55-year-old icon began his repertoire with, naturally, ‘Summer Holiday’. With unwavering eccentricity the British fans cast off their dampened spirits and joined in.
‘The Young Ones’ swiftly followed. Then ‘Bachelor Boy’ and ‘Livin’ Doll’. As the scene became ever more surreal, Sir Cliff was joined by a backing group including Martina Navratilova, Pam Shriver, Gigi Fernandez and one-time Queen of All England Virginia Wade.

As the crowd swayed in time to the ditties and Cliff danced with a black lady corporal on royal box security duty, the unthinkable happened. The sun came out and resumption of play was announced.
Cliff left the stage with a cheery

“I never thought I’d play the Centre Court”

and Sampras and Krajicek resumed battle once more. Most of the crowd present that day forget that, between further rain breaks, they saw Krajicek take a two set to love lead before a further shower finally curtailed play just after 8 pm at 1-1 in the third.

Being one of those days, even that fate came courtesy of a Wimbledon oddity as it was a delay in covering the court that finally drew the curtain on this unpredictable affair. Ground staff member Mark Hillaby failed to follow the drill, ending up in hospital after tripping and banging his head during the attempted cover up.

For the record, Krajicek later prevailed over Sampras and went on to win his first Wimbledon crown, but it was Cliff who was that year’s star. His impromptu turn was suely the best Centre Court performance by a British man since Fred Perry completed his hat trick of wins in 1936.

Court Philippe Chatrier, Roland Garros

Roland Garros visitor’s guide:

A trip down memory lane:

1956: First time at Roland Garros for Rod Laver
Portrait of Manuel Santana, first Spaniard to capture a Grand Slam title in 1961
1967: Françoise Durr defeats Lesley Turner
1969: Rod Laver defeats Ken Rosewall
Portrait of 6-time Roland Garros champion Bjorn Borg
Portrait of Adriano Panatta, the only player to beat Bjorn Borg at Roland Garros
1978: Virginia Ruzici defeats Mima Jausovec
1978: Bjorn Borg defeats Guillermo Vilas
1982: At the request of Monsieur Wilander
1982: first Grand Slam for Mats Wilander
1983: Yannick Noah defeats Mats Wilander
1984 French Open: Ivan Lendl defeats John McEnroe
1985 French Open: Chris Evert defeats Martina Navratilova
Roland Garros 1985: Mats Wilander defeats Ivan Lendl
Roland Garros 1988: bold Leconte swept aside by a Mats for all surfaces
Portrait of Natasha Zvereva, 1988 runner-up
Portrait of Arantxa Sanchez, 1989 French Open champion
Portrait of Michael Chang, 1989 French Open champion
1990 French Open: Opposites attract, Gomez defeats Agassi
Roland Garros 1990: Defending champion Sanchez loses in the first round
Roland Garros 1990: Edberg and Becker lose in the first round
1991 French Open 3RD: Michael Chang defeats Jimmy Connors
1991 French Open final: Jim Courier defeats Andre Agassi
1996: An unflinching Edberg causes a grand upset
Roland Garros 1996: Pete Sampras run through the semi-finals
1997: Going ga-ga over Guga
Steffi Graf – Martina Hingis Roland Garros 1999
2000: Mary Pierce finds peace and glory
2004: Coria vs Gaudio: the egotist vs the underdog
2005: Rafael Nadal defeats Mariano Puerta
2006: Nadal defeats Federer, wins second Roland Garros title
A look back at Roland Garros 2011
A look back at Roland Garros 2014
A look back at Roland Garros 2015

Pictures and Recaps:

Fashion and gear:

Polls:

Who will win Roland Garros 2016?

  • Rafael Nadal (50%, 125 Votes)
  • Novak Djokovic (29%, 73 Votes)
  • Andy Murray (11%, 27 Votes)
  • Roger Federer (5%, 12 Votes)
  • Kei Nishikori (2%, 5 Votes)
  • Stan Wawrinka (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Other (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Tomas Berdych (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Richard Gasquet (0%, 1 Votes)
  • David Ferrer (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 250

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Who will win Roland Garros 2016?

  • Serena Williams (42%, 47 Votes)
  • Victoria Azarenka (15%, 17 Votes)
  • Angelique Kerber (13%, 15 Votes)
  • Garbine Muguruza (12%, 13 Votes)
  • Simona Halep (7%, 8 Votes)
  • Other (4%, 5 Votes)
  • Carla Suarez Navarro (4%, 4 Votes)
  • Agnieszka Radwanska (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Petra Kvitova (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Belinda Bencic (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Roberta Vinci (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 113

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Article by Robin Finn, New York Times

He has never won a French Open championship, and if he doesn’t win this year’s, he never will.
But the 30-year-old Stefan Edberg, unseeded for his final campaign at the only Grand Slam event to elude him, took a never-say-never attitude into his match with Michael Chang today and turned a gloomy afternoon incandescent with his serve-and-volley artistry.

“I played some of the best tennis I’ve done for a very, very long time,” Edberg said after his 4-6, 7-5, 6-0, 7-6 (7-1) third-round victory.

“I’m not going out there giving him anything just because he’s 30 and it’s his last year,” said the fourth-seeded Chang. “He is not the type that wants any free handouts. I lost a little bit of timing in the third set and from there the momentum definitely shifted.”

By doing the little things right, said the 47th-ranked Edberg, he gave himself a little chance to retire from the game with all four Grand Slam trophies in his possession — an honor no male player has achieved since Rod Laver and Roy Emerson in the 1960’s.

“There’s a tiny little chance,” he said, “because I’m not feeling tired, I’m moving well, I’m serving a lot better than I’ve done for a long time. Little things that make a difference.”

Edberg didn’t cringe at the notion of squaring off against the very player who shut the window on him in the 1989 final here. Instead, he relished it. And today he got partial revenge for the loss that allowed Chang, at 17, to become the French Open’s youngest male champion and forced the Swede, then 23, to wonder if he had blown his best chance to excel on his worst surface.

Now Edberg, who bumbled away a dozen break points in the fourth set of his 1989 final against Chang, has the chance to become the French Open’s oldest champion since Andres Gomez in 1990.

“It does get tougher, but it’s possible, there’s a tiny little chance,” said Edberg, who admitted he would rather have beaten Chang in their only other meeting on clay — the 1989 final — than today.

With four rounds separating him from record-book immortality, Edberg said it will “take another four matches to make up for” what went wrong seven years ago.

One auspicious sign for Edberg, who prefers to deal in facts but didn’t mind hearing about a positive portent, is that he has won all four Grand Slam matches he has played against Chang since 1989. More important, at Wimbledon in 1990, and at the United States Open in 1991 and 1992, Edberg went on to capture the championships.
If he does it here, he’s certain to have ample support in the stands.

“You’re popular when you’re young, and then when you’re old, the people start cheering for you again,” said Edberg, who definitely had the sentiment and sympathy vote against Chang.

Rafael Nadal, Australian Open 2015

The Happy Slam is already around the corner! On the men’s side, Novak Djokovic will be once again the huge favorite, but the women’s draw is open than ever: all four of the top-ranked have withdrawn from tournaments they entered this week due to injury.

Enjoy our Australian Open coverage on Tennis Buzz, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

A trip down memory lane:

Australian Open trivia
The tragedy of Daphne Akhurst
The Norman Brookes Challenge Cup
1960 Australian Open: Neale Feaser, a costly volley
1960: first Grand Slam title for Rod Laver
1960-63 Australian Open: Jan Lehane four time runner-up
1974 Australian Open: Jimmy Connors first Grand Slam title
1975: John Newcombe defeats Jimmy Connors
1981: First Australian Open title for Martina Navratilova
1983: Mats Wilander defeats Ivan Lendl
1984: Mats Wilander defeats Kevin Curren
1985: Edberg wins in Australia and Sweden changes look
1987-1988 Swedes spoil the party
1987: Stefan Edberg defeats Pat Cash
January 11, 1988: first day of play at Flinders Park
1988: Mats Wilander defeats Pat Cash
1990: John McEnroe disqualified!
1990: Ivan Lendl’s last Grand Slam title
1991: Monica Seles first Australian Open title
1994: First Australian Open title for Pete Sampras
1995: Mary Pierce defeats Arantxa Sanchez Vicario
1995 QF: Pete Sampras emotional comeback win over Jim Courier
1995: Andre Agassi defeats Pete Sampras, wins first Australian Open title
1996 Australian Open: Mark Philippoussis defeats Pete Sampras in the 3rd round
Impressions from the 1996 Australian Open: Monica Seles and Boris Becker last Grand Slam titles, Stefan Edberg last appearance in Australia
1997 Australian Open: Pete Sampras defeats Carlos Moya
2001 Australian Open: Pat’s last chance
2001 Australian Open final: Andre Agassi defeats Arnaud Clément
2002: Capriati scripts a stunning sequel in Australia
2003 Australian Open: last Grand Slam title for Agassi
2009 Australian Open: Rafael Nadal defeats Roger Federer

Recap:
Fashion and gear:
Polls:

Who will be the 2016 Australian Open champion?

  • Novak Djokovic (45%, 66 Votes)
  • Roger Federer (22%, 32 Votes)
  • Andy Murray (9%, 13 Votes)
  • Rafael Nadal (9%, 13 Votes)
  • Stan Wawrinka (7%, 10 Votes)
  • Other (3%, 5 Votes)
  • Kei Nishikori (3%, 4 Votes)
  • Tomas Berdych (2%, 3 Votes)
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (1%, 1 Votes)
  • David Ferrer (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Richard Gasquet (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 147

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Who will be the 2016 Australian Open champion?

  • Serena Williams (38%, 41 Votes)
  • Maria Sharapova (22%, 24 Votes)
  • Other (14%, 15 Votes)
  • Garbine Muguruza (9%, 10 Votes)
  • Agnieszka Radwanska (7%, 8 Votes)
  • Angelique Kerber (5%, 5 Votes)
  • Simona Halep (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Petra Kvitova (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Karolina Pliskova (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Venus Williams (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Timea Bacsinszky (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 107

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