Truly WeirdWritten by Ponchi Gonzalez
Something about driving on the wrong side of the road, you know.
Don’t believe me? How about that brand new roof over the main stadium, err, Centre Court? If it were for aesthetics, they would have never put up that roof. Admit it: when closed, Centre Court looks from above as if it had been manufactured by Tupperware. And then, Google the photographs for the 2008 Rafael Nadal/Roger Federer final and the Pete Sampras/Patrick Rafter final, and try to find anything more beautiful than the last photos, when the shadows were deep and the contrasts gorgeous. No, that had to go. When your ratings go down because Goran Ivanisevic and Rafter played the final on Monday, it is time to invest a few hundred million quid to get some more.
The grass? You want to talk about the grass? Indeed. To begin with, the AELTC about a decade ago changed the grass to make the points longer, the rallies more enthralling. And they achieved that, but the thing they did not think about was that the slower the grass, and the longer the points, the more the grass suffers! Now, by day three, the back of the court plays like a dirt court because, let’s face it, it is dirt. There is no grass there anymore. On the second Sunday, prior to this change of surface, the middle T was worn out to the point that the grass-keepers (how about that for Job Description?) had to paint the soil green to fool the TV audience (sorry, we now have HD TV, laddies!) The base line? Luscious like an English meadow, but the T was a veritable Sahara. Now, with the reverse effect, the services boxes are fairly green, and I would guess the only wear and tear they get is because of the doubles players.
And last: The All White rule. To begin with, it also got modified. It is not ALL WHITE; it is ALMOST All White. But then, for those with enough memory, Anne White (go ahead, Google that image and rejoice) donned a completely white body suit and was banned from using it. Something to do with skin tight spandex, a gorgeous Blonde American and decency, but the thing was that Ms. White was wearing TOO MUCH White. You get the point? I don’t.
Wimbledon was the tournament where optic yellow balls (that’s what they were initially called) began being used. Wimbledon was suffering from poor TV ratings, mostly because in the days prior to HD, 50” + TV’s, people actually spoke as if they REALLY had seen the ball during the broadcast, when in reality, the white ball stopped being white after a few games and you couldn´t tell it from the dark green grass. Do not be misled; the AELTC cares a lot about tradition and decorum, and one tradition that is much respected in England is the tradition of making money. The only difference between them and other countries is that when they make money fist over fist, they try to have the fists gloved.
White gloves, of course.
So they changed the balls to optic yellow and on a Sunny day, at noon, with no overcast and sitting in the first rows, you could see the ball. But the ratings were up, so it was all good.
Players? Almost All White. Balls? Yellow. They are watching this on the telly, bloke!
Wimbledon. It is odd. It is weird. They accept only one sponsor. But it is Rolex. Equivalent to saying that you only have one Uncle, but he is Warren Buffet. Wimbledon is much more than an irregular tournament. It is even an irregular Slam. It is weird by design, it is odd by choice. It is finicky (no play on middle Sunday, so the Wimbledon village can enjoy its Sunday rest), it is weirdly stingy (What´s that? I played to 70-68 in the fifth set and all I get is a set of champagne flutes?), it is totally unaware of fashion (Purple and green? The Joker wears purple and green, man!).
And if you still don’t believe me, go there. See for yourself. In the meantime, between standing in awe at all the weirdness of The Championships, rejoice in its grandeur. Because it may be the strangest of all tennis tournaments in the world, but it is also the grandest and greatest.
I have no clue how they manage. But they do.
Ponchi Gonzalez has been hacking a ball on a tennis court since he was 8. His style of play is what his psychiatrist would describe as Paranoid-Schizophrenic: he does get to a lot of balls but then knows very little of what to do with them. When he is not roaming the halls and chat-rooms of TalkAboutTennis.com he works as a consultant to the Oil Industry, trying to tell them how to avoid Deepwater Horizon scenarios.