Archive for June, 2009
Before Venus and Serena came along, the most celebrated tennis player by the name of Williams was a Philadelphian: Richard Norris Williams, II. Quite a handle, but he preferred that his pals call him Dick.
President of Tennis channel, Ken Solomon with Bud
Dick almost didn’t make it much past his 21st birthday because he happened to be riding on a steamship called the Titanic that didn’t make it past the interruption of its maiden voyage in 1912. Intrepidly he dived into the chilling North Atlantic, swam to a collapsed lifeboat, hung on for 6 hours until picked up by the rescuing Carpathia, then thawed out by painfully walking the deck. continue reading »
June 30 2009 | Wimbledon | 1 Comment »
They closed Wimbledon’s retractable Centre Court roof for the first time. Why? A Monday afternoon sprinkle that was soon over, but the folks at the All England Club were itchy to play with their new $140 million toy. The weather was acting too nice in this corner of the world that has long been known as the tropical rain forest of Southwest London. Sunny day followed sunny day, and the roof remained open.
One side of the new Court One, built in 1997
No rain on the roof. Rain, once an unwelcome visitor, was being prayed for, if only to show off the fancy new engineering that has banished rain-outs – at least for the prime playground, Centre Court. Although the sun soon returned, strangely the roof stayed closed for the homeboy Andy Murray. But management got lucky. With the lights on, Andy and Stanislav Wawrinka were able to stage their 5-set epic (three hours, 56 minutes) until 10:38. Without the roof, Murray – the winner, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 – and Wawrinka would have been halted by darkness an hour before. Instead, Wimbledon had its latest closing. An historic night match. continue reading »
June 29 2009 | Wimbledon | 2 Comments »
And so it’s no longer Venus and Serena and nobody for the U.S.
Tracy Austin with Rufus
Well, she was Little Miss Nobody prior to the 6th day of Wimbledon when Melanie Oudin knocked off ex-No. 1 (current No. 6) Jelena Jankovic as the grass sizzled on another hot day – and so did she.
A year ago Melanie lost in the second round of the juniors. This year she dodged 2 match points in the opening round of the qualifying tournament, slipping through with her No. 124 ranking and into the main draw. There she stopped No. 26 Sybille Bammer, No. 74 Yaroslava Shvedova, then Jankovic, 6-7 (8-10), 7-5, 6-2. continue reading »
June 27 2009 | Wimbledon | 3 Comments »
Sister Serena has said she sometimes wakes up feeling that she’s a Russian. Probably because in her business she’s surrounded by so many of them. Five in the current Top Ten. Sixteen in this Wimbledon draw, and 6 others who didn’t make it all the way through the qualifying tournament.
Rufus with his handler, Wayne Davis and assistant
However, only one Russian doll has conquered the Big W — Maria Sharapova as a 17-year-old in 2004 – while Sister Serena has won it twice, 2002-03, and Sister Venus five times, 2000-01, 05, 07-08. Maybe the Russians, for all their success, would like to wake up feeling like a Williams? continue reading »
June 26 2009 | Wimbledon | 3 Comments »
For a while – for an afternoon at least – it was like the old days when fearsome Aussies were sod gods at Wimbledon, striding the lawns as conquerors.
Bud and Tom Rinaldi working for ESPN
People named Margaret Court and Evonne Goolagong, Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Roy Emerson and Lew Hoad – and others – were hoarding the championships.
The last one was combative little Lleyton Hewitt, who ruled 7 years ago, and startlingly popped up again to register a mammoth second round upset. In the other precinct sturdy Samantha Stosur came from behind to keep Australian womankind happy. continue reading »
June 25 2009 | Wimbledon | No Comments »
The “Siberian Siren” has left the premises earlier than expected, and will have to wait 12 months to see if she can duplicate her Wimbledon championship exploits of five years ago.
One of many scoreboards found on the grounds at Wimbledon
Nevertheless, Maria Sharapova, at 22, has already done enough good works to carve out an alcove for herself at the International Tennis Hall of Fame at Newport, Rhode Island. Add the Australian, 2008, and U.S., 2006, singles crowns to her millinery, and there’s no doubt she’ll make the Hall someday after retirement. continue reading »
June 24 2009 | Wimbledon | 1 Comment »
It was as though she had stepped out of 1996. Or emerged from a dream.
Bud and Dick Enberg working for ESPN
Yes, there was none other than Kimiko Date on Court 2, trading blows with a girl who wasn’t even born when Kimiko first graced Wimbledon in 1989. Honest, that was “Kid Butterfly,” the slight, quick Japanese whose shotmaking could be as sweet as a Puccini aria.
She had been a Top Ten inhabitant in 1994-95-96, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 1996 where she almost beat the champ, Steffi Graf, in 3 sets. But that was enough. Too much pressure, and traveling, she said after her first rounder as a returnee to the Big W. continue reading »
June 23 2009 | Wimbledon | 3 Comments »
Wimbledon opened and the Portuguese kid shut up.
Debenture ticket and pass
That made the story of the first day a non-story, really, leaving numerous journalists in the lurch. The press was ready to pounce on the kid, 16-year-old Michelle Larcher de Brito, following up on her loud and obnoxious behavior at the French Open. There, she screeched and tried to unnerve opponents with various unsporting gestures.
She’d be a piece of cake for the numerous newspapers of London if she pulled that stuff at hallowed Wimbledon, and a corps of reporters, photographers and TV camera folk made their way to distant Court 17. They were ready for her, ready with their barbs.
continue reading »
June 22 2009 | Wimbledon | 4 Comments »
WIMBLEDON – I keep hoping that someone someday – perhaps the Queen or Prince Charles – will throw out the first ball from the Royal Box, and declare: “Wimbledon, aged 132, is hereby open. May the best woman and man win. Play tennis!”
Petunia plantings 2009
Won’t happen, of course. Just the wandering of a misguided American mind. Queen Elizabeth II, a horse racing junkie, cares not for tennis although her grandparents were wild about it (in a decorous way, naturally), as regular attendants at the Big W. Her father, King George VI (then the Duke of York), actually played Wimbledon, badly, in doubles, 1926. No royal was tempted after that, leaving the king business to such as Laver, Borg and Federer. continue reading »
June 21 2009 | Wimbledon | No Comments »
LONDON – Rafa has sore knees; Roger’s spirit soars. Maybe because the guy who stole his Wimbledon crown is absent?
Umpires relaxing between matches
“There’s a lot of weight off my shoulders since Paris,” he says. It’s an 180 pound weight named Nadal.
And so another Big W commences, bigger than ever, where the T-word (tendonitis) is a TKO to Rafa and his faithful, lamenting his inability to even make the starting gate. Tendonitis or tendinitis? Doesn’t matter how you spell it because it hurts just as bad. Too bad to play, Rafa said. This affliction used to be called housemaid’s knee, but it’s more serious for the suddenly not-so-overpowering Spaniard since he’s not scrubbing floors for a living. continue reading »
June 20 2009 | Wimbledon | No Comments »