The weather can’t quite make its mind up and the pressure on our sports teams and individuals is heavier than ever, but the Great British summer is well and truly under way. Of course, this also means that Wimbledon is hurtling towards us, faster than a Federer serve. For the last week of June and the first week of July, Britain can expect to go through its annual tennis obsession; shredding the disappointment of inevitable football failures and deciding that “this will be the year” that British hands will grasp the most coveted trophy in tennis. It is a feat not achieved since Fred Perry in 1936 and Virginia Wade in 1977 and while a look at this year’s competition suggests that national fortunes are unlikely to change, Wimbledon 2012 presents a lot to look forward to regardless. From the tennis to the traditions, here’s what to expect from this year’s tournament.
Located in the leafy London suburb of Wimbledon, the All England Club can trace its roots back to 1868. Nine years after its foundation as a private croquet club, the first tennis championship was held at the grounds. Although the two world wars put a temporary halt to proceedings, the sport has thrived at SW19 ever since its establishment; evolving with the times and yet maintaining an air of tradition that is all too often mistaken for ‘stuffiness’. Although Spencer Gore – Wimbledon’s first champion – may be bemused at the strength, stamina and style of today’s top players – he would no doubt feel at home surrounded by the old-fashioned protocol that the All England Club strives to maintain. From the strict dress code (all-white, of course) to the tenderly manicured lawns, through to the Royal endorsement and strawberry obsession, Wimbledon’s traditions are almost as famous as the stars that grace its courts.
…most prestigious title in tennis.
“Almost”: for while the All England Club presents an iconic backdrop, the limelight is firmly on the players, and this year’s championship sees an array of contenders for the most prestigious title in tennis. The number one seed, Novak Djokovic, is certainly a favourite. However, a French Open defeat at the hands of Rafael Nadal proves that his top-ranking position is in no way cemented. Roger Federer, whose presence at Wimbledon is as assured as strawberries and cream, will no doubt put his all into winning a seventh title at the All England Club, although some would argue that his reign as the King of Wimbledon has passed. Of course, Britain’s own hopes rest on the broad shoulders of Andy Murray and while he is yet to prove himself against the weight of Nadal and Djokovic, the number four seed is certainly a contender. With the likes of the dynamic Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and David Ferrer hot on the heels of the big four, there is little doubt that Wimbledon 2012 has the makings of a classic championship. The women’s competition is equally as poised, with current number one, Maria Sharapova and defending champion, Petra Kvitova, competing with the likes of Victoria Azarenka and the un-dismissible Serena Williams, for a shot at the Wimbledon trophy.
Next Monday will see the merger of the old and the new; aged tradition paired with the fresh faces of 21st century tennis. In the context of Wimbledon, the two go together like strawberries and cream, and this year’s championship will be no different.