Diary: Wimbledon serves up a unique treat

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  • An aerial shot of a sun-drenched Wimbledon.

    Wimbledon, LONDON – UK; Wimbledon is a special place. That’s probably the most overused phrase in tennis, but it’s true. There are things at this tournament that you will not find at any other grand slam, or tennis event aroud the world for that matter.

    Along with the tradition, the history and everything that comes with the majestic All England Club, there are certain nuances that only occur at SW19.

    The silence that takes over the warm-ups before the matches is quite unique, compared to the stadium announcers at each of the other three slams where players are introduced as they walk on the court before listing each competitors’ achievements.

    None of that happens at Wimbledon and it is one of the many things 2004 champion Maria Sharapova loves about the tournament.

    “I guess being part of its history is very special when you look back. When you’re walking down the stairs, you see both the women’s trophy and the men’s trophy and you think about how many incredible players have held those,” she says.

    “You’re given a chance to walk out on Centre Court and experience the nerves, the butterflies. You go out with no introductions and hit the first serve or the first return and just play tennis. I think that’s what it all comes down to at Wimbledon.

    “It’s so unique and so different. When you think of the US Open, that’s really what it’s about, the music, those introductions… and that’s great but to have that quiet moment, the five minutes of warming up without anything, I think that’s also special in its own way.”

    Another one-of-a-kind characteristic at Wimbledon is the underground tunnel that takes players to Court 1 so they can avoid being mobbed by the crowd on their way to matches.

    Already this week, Richard Gasquet was greeted by two fans asking for a photo while he was being escorted by one security guard to Court 18. He kept telling them softly “after my match, after my match”, but they were relentless and he obliged.

    Imagine if Serena Williams or Rafael Nadal had to walk above ground to Court 1 for their opening matches there on Monday and Tuesday. They would never have made it through in time.

    “There’s definitely nothing like that. It’s the only experience that we have in tennis like that,” said Williams of her walk through the tunnel.

    “It’s nice, because you can stay in your zone. You don’t have to worry about anything.”

    The all-white dress code for players is also a Wimbledon tradition. While Roger Federer has complained and said it has become too strict, Williams and many other players don’t have a problem with it.

    “It works well here. It’s part of tradition. As a club member, when you come here to play, you have to wear white. They want everyone else to, too. I think it’s unique and I think it’s beautiful to see white against the grass. I think it makes for great photos,” said Williams, a five-time champion here.