After a short visit to Wimbledon in the first week of the 2012, today we landed at another tournament full of tradition. In fact, while the AELTC moved into the current grounds of The Championships, Newport first housed a tennis championship at the current International Tennis Hall of Fame location starting in 1881. And, because of its size, the Hall of Fame museum, as well as the rarity of grass courts in the United States, tradition here is felt even stronger than at Wimbledon. Significantly stronger, even. The Hall of Fame grounds are small, the buildings look old and quaint. And the grass, it's everywhere.
Roger Federer isn't walking around surrounded by an entourage of staff and security. London Fire Brigade members aren't protecting entrances to the bleachers. Hawkeye? You must be referring to that sharp-eyed line judge on the baseline. The ballkids in Newport are actually kids, often very young ones. The volunteers at the International Tennis Hall of Fame Museum will gladly show you to the right room. Photographers sit on the grass itself while shooting on central court, and players practice side by side with seniors groups. Here, serve and volleying still works. "I have an old-school game and this is an old-school surface," says Rajeev Ram, a semifinalist here this year, having won the tournament in 2009.
And after matches end, you can visit the rest of Newport, which preserves other pieces of its history as well. The turn of the 20th Century industrialist mansions, the beach, the shops on the shore. Tradition, it's here.
For more photos from Thursday, click here.