Wimbledon 2009: Courtside exclusive
TheSportReview.com’s Jerome Butcher gives his account of what many consider to be the best tennis tournament in the world or further still the best sporting event in the world.
No one was better placed than this TSR reporter who spent most of his time courtside as a court attendant on court 4, soaking up the atmosphere. He saw first hand why the Championships attract more people than any other sporting event in the UK – a staggering half a million people come from all over the world every year to watch tennis at Wimbledon.
Once again, Wimbledon did not fail to deliver this year. SW19 saw some exceptional tennis, records broken, centre court utilised its brand-new roof despite the beautiful weather for the near entire two weeks whereas British tennis, once again, failed to conjure up any miraculous fairytale endings. Having said this, therein lies one ray of hope with the world number three, Andy Murray.
Very rarely does a review of Wimbledon include the following words, but it’s true: the courts were sun baked and the weather was glorious for the duration of the Championships. As court attendants, their main responsibility is to cover the courts as quickly as possible.
For those court coverers who were needed till the very last day, they were put to the test a mere three times! On top of that, on the few occasions it did rain, it only lasted a few minutes – not one torrential downpour – how terribly ‘un-British’.
Having said that, on Saturday 6 June when rain did threaten play there was no hesitation in deciding to give the new roof its maiden run. The match between Dinara Safina and Amelie Mauresmo was interrupted for ten minutes whilst the roof was unveiled, giving all journalists the story they’d been craving.
There were no glitches, no hiccups and all things went according to plan, which includes the tennis. Andy Murray’s epic match versus Stanislas Wawrinka was the last scheduled match to be played on Centre and did not finish till 10:39 pm.
Murray battled, under the flood lights, to win in five sets, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3, against the “other” Swiss, (world number 15), and continued his quest to become the first Brit to win since Fred Perry 73 years ago. He met Juan Carlos Ferrero, the 2003 French Open champion in the quarters then reached the semis, the furthest the young Scot had ever been at Wimbledon.
Murray was later to fall to the hands of the brilliant Andy Roddick, who earlier had single-handedly put Court 10 out of action for the entire tournament by smashing his racket and denting the baseline in a practice session. Months of hard-work by the groundsmen wrecked in a minute by the extremely motivated and competitive American.
The 15-year-old, Laura Robson, after superbly winning the Girl’s singles last year, put on a fighting display as she tackled the real thing, receiving a wild-card for the Ladies Singles. She met Daniela Hantchukova in the first round and matched the Russian world number 27 even winning the first set.
She was also defending her Junior’s Championship title and her second round Girl’s Singles match against Laura Peers on Court 4 attracted the masses, which left us swamped on our courtside bench. She played well until crashing out against Holland’s Quirine Lemoine, a strong 17-year-old with a powerful forehand. Her back problem did not help, but playing through the pain she showed grit and determination losing 8-6 in the third. There is certainly a promising future for the Australian-born Miss Robson.
The women’s tournament came to an unsurprising conclusion with the two Williams sisters meeting for the 16th time in a final. Serena beat Venus, which means that the pair have now won eight of the last ten titles at Wimbledon.
Their father reportedly flew back to the US and refused to watch them play in the final, presumably to maintain his neutrality. There are even rumours that Richard Williams, who has trained his daughters since he took them to local tennis courts in Compton, LA at the age of four, actually decides which one of them should win whenever they meet.
In the much more exciting men’s tournament Roddick, 26, who had one of his best Grand Slams, played some of his best tennis ever and produced his trademark massive serves, which weren’ t enough, however to clinch it from Federer. The ‘Fed’ seemed destined to go on and beat Sampras’ world record of 14 Grand Slam titles when he finally beat Roddick in a thrilling 30 game fifth set – the longest in Wimbledon history.
The Gentlemen’s doubles won by Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic. In the Ladies doubles the Williams sisters also came out victorious. The Mixed doubles were won by Mark Knowles and Anna-Lena Groenefeld, meanwhile the Junior’s: Boy’s Singles by Andrey Kuznetsov and Girl’s Singles by Noppawan Lertcheewakarn.
Finally a mention must go to the men and women’s wheelchair tennis mini-tournament that took place on Courts 4 and 5 for the fourth year in a row. Olympic gold medalist, Shingo Kunieda from Japan and players from over six different countries taking part.
The Gentlemen’s Wheelchair Doubles was won by the French pair Stephane Houdet and Michael Jeremiasz whereas the Ladie’s Doubles Final won by the Dutch Korie Homan and Esther Vergeer. It was a great advert for the sport and an incredible display of determination and courage.
Roll on next June and start counting down the days to another excellent Wimbledon Championships.