Inside the grounds, it’s heaven: you’re hit by the sophisticated, well groomed Britishness that the All England Club does so well. Veteran Wimbledon watcher, Pippa Middleton
The most prestigious grand slam
By Roger Childs
It may lack the colour of Roland Garros, however Wimbledon has its unique formality and prestige. In the words of head coach, Dan Bloxham, it reminds everyone of the heritage of the game. Players regard it as the top grand slam and the competition is always fierce.
Last year Andy Murray delighted the fans, becoming the first British gentlemen’s singles winner since 1936. Meanwhile Frenchwoman, Marion Bartoli, was a surprise winner in the ladies singles. Bartoli has since retired, however Murray is back to defend his title against such heavyweights as Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Stan Wawrinka.
The strange and wonderful world of Wimbledon
Wimbledon is the oldest of the four tennis grand slams. The All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club held its first tournament in 1877 and prior to World War One, New Zealand’s greatest tennis player, Anthony Wilding, won the gentlemen’s singles title four times.
It is the only grand slam to be played on grass and inevitably the surface deteriorates as the tournament progresses. The first centre court match this year will be on a beautifully groomed, blemish-free lawn, however, two weeks later, the men’s finalists will have to contend with worn and dusty baselines which can cause the occasional slip and slide.
Tradition is a key part of the Wimbledon fortnight. In the seats at one end, fashionable dresses and suits, collars and ties are de rigeur for the rich and famous who attend. The fashion house of Ralph Lauren, dresses the umpires and ball girls and boys to provide the right Wimbledon look.
The two individual competitions are quaintly referred to as the ladies’ and gentlemen’s singles. If royalty is present, women finalists curtsey before starting their pre-match hit up, white clothing must be worn and low cut dresses are not permitted. However many women players pay lip service to the dress code by wearing short white dresses, but adding colour elsewhere.
Who’s competitive in the ladies’ singles?
Serena Williams is the top seed and has won the title five times, most recently in 2012. However this year, her form has been mixed and she was thrashed 6-2 6-2 by an unknown in the second round at Roland Garros. However she loves the grass surface and will definitely be hard to beat.
She is keen to win again. When asked how prepared she was for The Championships, both physically and mentally, she replied I think both; I’m really prepared for it and really excited to be here.
Li Na also had an early exit in Paris but does well on grass. Simona Halep is third seed and only lost narrowly in the French Open final. Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, Roland Garros winner Maria Sharapova and semi finalist Eugenie Bouchard should also make the last eight.
Tough competition amongst the men
The French open finalists, Djokovic and Nadal are seeded one and two, and will be hard to beat. Murray hasn’t been in great form this year and may struggle to reach the semi finals. Federer has won the singles a record seven times and has picked up two titles so far this year. He is very much at home on grass.
There are some very good players hunting the big four, including:
- Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov
- Roland Garros semi-finalist Ernests Gulbis
- Australian Open champion Wawrinka
- Canada’s power server Milos Raonic.
One thing is certain: the top seeds will need to be at their best to hold off the talented younger breed. However, in Bleacher tennis writer, Brian Mazique’s view: Djokovic is the pick to win his first Grand Slam since the 2013 Australian Open.
So let the games begin!