Wimbledon 2012: Things I'd Like to See Changed at the Championships
Julian Finney/Getty Images
DIG UP THE GRASS
How much longer will the world’s greatest tennis tournament continue being played on a surface which is as outdated as many of the traditions surrounding it?
Until 1974, three of the four Grand Slams were played on grass. In 1975 the US Open, changed from grass to clay, and then in 1978 to hard court.
The Australian changed to hard in 1987, leaving Wimbledon the only remaining Grand Slam on grass.
Ever tried playing a good game of tennis on grass? Impossible, unless you’ve got your own team of full-time groundsmen.
Dig up the grass, put down some red clay courts, and move into the 21st century, Wimbledon.
Get Bottoms on Seats in the Royal Box
Gracing us with their presence - The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Wimbledon 2011
Clive Mason/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II is obviously no big tennis fan. Her Majesty has only visited the Championships four times during her 60-year reign.
It was great to see Will and Kate waving to the fans from the box last year. And hopefully they’ll grace us with their presence more often in the future than the Duke of Cambridge’s granny has.
So come on royal family, you’ve got your own private box, and literally the best view in the house, but nobody likes seeing those empty seats.
Get Rid of the 'All Whites' Rule
Imagine this on Centre Court
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
The Wimbledon rule book states that at the Championships, “every piece of clothing worn should be predominantly white.”
Hello, this is 2012, not 1875, when the first Wimbledon was played, and surely it’s time to let competitors wear what they want.
Andre Agassi purposely stayed away from Wimbledon for several years because of this Victorian rule. Can you imagine what they’d have said if he’d tried getting onto centre court wearing his favourite Nike cut-offs?
Allow Play on the Middle Sunday
Eric Liddell - refused to run on Sundays
Getty Images/Getty Images
Wimbledon is the only of the Grand Slams, which doesn’t have play scheduled for the middle Sunday.
You’re only likely to see play on the Sabbath if it’s poured with rain the first week, and the tournament’s way behind schedule.
Buy hey, what about the common man?
For most working people, Sunday presents an excellent opportunity to watch sport. Why should people have to put a holiday request in for a weekday, if they’re lucky enough to be awarded tickets, and be denied seeing the stars on a Sunday?
So come on, Wimbledon, this isn’t 1924, Eric Liddell’s ideals are well past their sell-by date and let’s have some Sunday “Chariots of Fire” down at SW19.
Name the Show Courts
The US Open's Louis Armstrong Stadium
Nick Laham/Getty Images
The Australian Open at Flinders Park, Melbourne has its Rod Laver and Margaret Court Arenas. At Roland Garros it’s Courts Philippe Chatrier and Suzanne Lenglen.
Wimbledon has Centre Court and Court No. 1.
Why doesn’t Wimbledon give some mention to its heroes of old, and name the show courts after previous British winners?
The Fred Perry or Virginia Wade Arenas, would surely bestow some recognition that the home nation did once have players capable of winning the event.
Maybe it doesn’t even have to be a tennis champion. How about the final being played on “Churchill”? “Yes,” I hear some saying.
As I said, you don’t even have to name the courts after tennis players, I mean along with the Arthur Ashe Stadium, the US Open named its other major court after a trumpet player!
Let There Be Lights
Imagine this at Wimbledon
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Both the Australian and US Opens have matches lasting well into the evening...why doesn’t Wimbledon?
Yes, it’s something to do with the slippery conditions, which tend to set in as night falls.
But if the court surface was changed, and floodlights erected, think about all the extra revenue the tournament could generate with separate day and night sessions.
Make the Tournament More Accessible
Real tennis fans camping out at Wimbledon
Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Why is it so much more difficult to get tickets into Wimbledon than the other Grand Slams?
Ever heard of the expression “Posh and Toffs”?
Wimbledon has become a corporate sponsorship event, frequented by people with no interest in the game for anything other than the two weeks of the Championships.
The real tennis fans are the ones queuing up or camping out overnight.
Surely there must be some way to make the tournament more accessible and cheaper for the common tennis fan.
Corporate greed, though, is likely to prevail.
Allow On-Court Advertising
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Wimbledon is the only of the Grand Slams, which doesn’t allow sponsor advertising on its courts.
Now with the Championships making every other effort possible to maximize its profits, by sticking to this honorable tradition, it really is missing a trick.
Get Former Champions to Present the Trophy on Court
"Hey Martina - wish you'd been able to give me this"
Julian Finney/Getty Images
How cool was it to see three-time former champion Mats Wilander presenting Rafa with the trophy after his win over Novak Djokovic at the French? Or for that matter, Maria Sharapova thanking Monica Seles for presenting hers?
So why not have former champs present the trophies on court at Wimbledon?
Imagine if Bjorn Borg or Pete Sampras had been able to hand the trophy to Roger Federer after the Swiss had won his sixth title? Or Martina Navratilova present Petra Kvitova the trophy she’d won nine times?
Instead of that, the newly-crowned champions are forced to smile, wave to, and have their photos taken with a former champion some time after the on-court presentation.
It really is worth all the fuss
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Apart from all the above, though, we really do love Wimbledon.