This year marks the 50th anniversary of Manolo Santana’s Wimbledon victory and the Spaniard met up with members of the press to look back at that iconic moment in the tournament’s history.
Now the tournament director of the Madrid Open, Santana was the first-ever Spaniard to capture the title at Wimbledon when he beat American Dennis Ralston in straight sets in the final.
Chatting to a journalist from Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia at the All England Club, Santana points to his wrist watch saying: “This is the Rolex they gave me when I won. It has my name engraved on the back and it shows me the days of the week in Castellano (Spanish). I wear it on special occasions and it has never stopped working.”
Santana recalls his prize money at the time – it was before men’s tennis entered the professional era – was less than £20 and he had to redeem it from the clothing store Lillywhites.
“I took the metro the day of the final because there was no official tournament transport at the time and the taxi was very expensive,” said Santana.
“I got off at Southfields station and walked up to the tennis club with my bag and three racquets.”
Oh how times have changed.
There’s a fleet of Jaguars and Land Rovers transporting players, their coaches and even us journalists to and from the tennis club every day now and the singles champions each receive two million pounds.
Meanwhile, Bernard Tomic had to apologise for making an inappropriate comment after he failed to arrive at the court alongside Fernando Verdasco, as is customary, in the first round.
I challenge Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios to go one day without a controversy.— Daniel Cherny (@DanielCherny) June 30, 2016
“He was up in the locker getting something taped on. Yeah, I did get to the court prior to him very early, and unfortunately I had to stand on court like a retard,” Tomic had said.
After an understandable backlash, Tomic apologised after his second round win over Radu Albot.
“Look, I apologise if I offended anyone. I’m sorry. It just came out the wrong way,” said Tomic.
His wrist is still healing, his backhand is still soft, and he’s taking his comeback one day at a time, but on Friday Juan Martin del Potro took down a top-four player at Wimbledon on Centre Court and he is rightfully over the moon about it.
“My hand is shaking, it’s a great sensation for me, I feel alive,” an emotional Del Potro said when he walked off court after defeating No4 seed Stan Wawrinka 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(2), 6-3 to reach the third round.
The last time Del Potro was on Centre Court at Wimbledon, he lost an incredible five-setter to Novak Djokovic in the 2013 semi-finals.
He’s back at the All England Club for the first time in three years following two seasons plagued by injuries and wrist surgeries and he made sure his return to Centre Court was a triumphant one.
“It was great. I mean, the last time I had been in the Centre Court was against Djokovic, in that amazing semi-final that I lost. Now I came again. The crowd was unbelievable with me,” said the 27-year-old.
“The atmosphere was amazing. They have respect for me. It’s very nice to just be on the Centre Court of this magnificent tournament.
“After my third surgery I’ve been trying to play tennis again, it’s like a second or third career in my short life. I don’t know if I can be in top positions in the future but I just want to enjoy my tennis.”
On Friday he certainly did, and he reunited tennis fans the world over, all of whom are hoping that Del Potro’s string of bad luck has finally come to an end.
Fans and fellow athletes took to Twitter to congratulate the Argentine on his biggest win since his return from injury and several hours after the match, “Del Potro” was still trending worldwide.
Wawrinka converted on the sole break point he had in the opening set and he saved the two break points he faced while serving for a one-set lead to hold for 6-3.
Del Potro broke for a 3-1 lead in the second and got a set point on the Wawrinka serve in the eighth game.
The Swiss hit a backhand that was called out and he challenged before walking to his seat, assuming the set was over. But Hawk-Eye revealed the ball clipped the edge of the line and Wawrinka saved the break point and held for 3-5.
A slew of good first serves gave Del Potro two more set points the following game and he did not blink, closing out the set with a service winner.
The Argentine broke to open the third set but Wawrinka responded immediately for 1-1. Two huge forehands towards either corners of the court gave Del Potro two more break points in game three and he broke for a 2-1 lead. Wawrinka made it four breaks in a row soon after and he finally ended the streak of breaks to hold for 3-2.
The pair shared a funny moment when Wawrinka made a poor Hawk-Eye challenge, Del Potro laughing at his opponent while the Swiss put his fingers around his eyes implying that he needs glasses.
The set fittingly headed into a tie-break in which Del Potro opened a 4-2 gap. Wawrinka double-faulted to gift Del Potro four set points and a long forehand saw the Argentine take a two-sets-to-one lead.
Wawrinka took an off-court bathroom break to regroup but it did not shake Del Potro’s confidence, as he got a break point in game six.
An ace from Wawrinka saw the No. 4 seed get out of trouble but he sent a long ball to face a second. That too was saved as the Swiss held for 3-3. Wawrinka stared down another break point in game eight and this time, Del Potro converted to put himself in the position to serve for victory.
Del Potro started things off with an ace and he soon had two match points. Wawrinka’s cross court backhand sailed wide giving Del Potro a third round meeting with Frenchman Lucas Pouille.
“I started to play a little bit too much between, not completely free, not aggressive enough. Didn’t find a way to come back in the match,” said a disappointed Wawrinka.
Seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer wrapped up play on Centre Court, easing past British world No. 91 Daniel Evans 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 to become the only men’s player to book a place in the fourth round.
“I’m happy because the goal was to get to the second week. I won nine straight sets which is great,” said Federer, who was lucky to be scheduled on the roofed Centre Court for all three of his matches so far.
Serena and Venus Williams were pushed to their limits on Friday before they both claimed hard-fought victories, on a day that saw several people question scheduling decisions at the All England Club.
Defending champion Serena fought back from 0-2 in the final set to overcome her fellow American world No65 Christina McHale 6-7(7), 6-2, 6-4 and book a third round with Germany’s Annika Beck, while five-time winner Venus played the longest final set of her grand slam career to get past No29 seed Daria Kasatkina 7-5, 4-6, 10-8 to reach the fourth round.
The rain meant that while Venus was booking herself a spot in the last 16, someone like No10 seed Petra Kvitova had not even started her second round, courtesy of some messy scheduling.
Kvitova, a two-time champion at Wimbledon, played her first round on Court 18 and on Friday was on Court 2 – her second round with Ekaterina Makarova yet to be completed with five days gone in the tournament.
Three of the women’s second rounds are still underway while just one from the men’s draw is yet to be concluded.
Meanwhile, someone like Roger Federer is already in the fourth round having played all three of his matches on Centre Court, which is the only court with a roof at Wimbledon, that can be shut during the rain.
Many have voiced their concern over the inequality between men and women when it comes to scheduling matches, including Venus, who as a five-time champion, was also scheduled on Court 18 on Thursday.
Asked if he felt guilty about having the advantage of the roof for all three of his matches, Federer said: “I feel it is what it is. I’ve been lucky with the draw. Is it good to play the Brits? I’m not sure. The draw, it is what it is. Credit to myself for maybe winning as much as I did here in previous years that I do get put on either Centre Court or 1.”
Venus was happy to play on Court 18 but believes women should get equal opportunity to play on the main courts compared to the men.
“It’s not the ideal schedule for the women. We’d like to see equal amount of matches. We don’t want more, just the same amount, that’s all,” said the 36-year-old.
“The All England Club has to have a culture where they want to have equality, as well. They need to want to pursue that. I would love to see where we don’t have to talk about this any more in the press conference.”
No4 seed Stan Wawrinka was understandably on Centre Court on Friday (he played Juan Martin del Potro), while No4 seed Angelique Kerber has been scheduled on Court 18 and Court 12 in her last two matches.
Asked if he noticed any sexism in scheduling, Wawrinka said: “That’s a pretty strange question. If you look the schedule, I think yesterday or two days ago, was four matches women on Centre, and one guy or two. I think they just trying what they can do with the schedule.
“They cannot put five or six match on Centre. I think you need to look every day. Today was one girl match, two men’s match. Two days ago was three or four girl’s match and one men’s match. I don’t think there is anything.”
The rarely-outspoken Carla Suarez Navarro echoed Venus’ views.
“I read something like that and I agree. Every player has to play on every court, the tournament try to put different players on different courts and it’s a really important thing what Venus said,” said the Spanish No12 seed.
On court, Serena was tested for a third time on as many surfaces against McHale before she advanced.
“I know mentally no one can break me,” the world No1 said during her TV interview.
She added later in her press conference: “There were times where I was down and out. I just kept fighting. That’s what I know I can do best. I knew that I could count on that, rely on that.”
McHale was understandable disappointed to lose and says she hopes to advance further in the slams in the near future.
Asked if she agreed with Serena, that she is mentally unbreakable, McHale said: “You’re definitely aware of everything she’s accomplished, she’s the greatest of all-time, so you’re aware of that and you know that no lead is ever safe.
“But she does lose matches sometimes, so I don’t think it’s safe to say that she’s unbeatable but when it comes down to it, she’ll take her chances when they come.”
On how she feels she continues to trouble the American world No1, McHale said: “I think, maybe my style of play of getting a lot of balls back, making her hit a lot of balls, putting her in maybe awkward positions, I wasn’t expecting on the grass to be so close and have so many chances but I guess I’ll learn from this and be able to make it farther in the slams soon.”