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- THE REAL RECORDSal Johnson | May 12, 2003
In the world of tennis two names stand out: Forest Hills, where the U.S. Lawn Tennis Championships begin next week, and Wimbledon, where the All-England Lawn Tennis Championships ended last month. Of the two Wimbledon unquestionably springs largest in the hearts of serious tennis players. On its incomparable lawn courts the great players of the past and present—Ren� Lacoste, Bill Tilden, Don Budge, Helen Wills Moody, Alice Marble, Fred Perry, Frank Sedgman, Jack Kramer and Maureen Connolly—have scurried for the championship. And in establishing themselves, they have helped establish the All-England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club, as the Wimbledon courts are known, into an international tennis shrine.
Wimbledon has grown enormously since croquet was last played. Currently there are 14 beautifully conditioned courts, all of which are used during the annual tournament. And there is also the famed Center Court where the finals are held. Along the ivy-covered out—side wall of its 13,000-seat amphitheatre, crowds wait in line for hours to pause briefly at the balcony rail after they file in, where they can look over the lesser courts and the thousands of leisurely spectators promenading along spacious walkways which cut through the hedge-bordered grounds. Despite Wimbledon's tremendous growth, its ranking position in the tennis world, and its huge crowds (270,000 attended this year's championships), few things give the club more pride than the atmosphere which surrounds the tournament—the atmosphere of an enormous garden party rather than that of one of the world's greatest sports events.
Ordinary tennis fans have royal look in balcony draped with colors of Lawn Tennis Association, sometimes persuading tourists they are gandering at royalty itself.
Cocktail party (below) for competitors and guests, among them Laborite Clement Attlee (light suit, center foreground), is held yearly during tournaments, includes official champagne toasts and light music by band of Royal Marines.
MORE THAN 13,000 CROWD CENTER COURT SEATS—HARDER TO GET THAN
WORLD SERIES TICKETS—AS AUSTRALIANS HOAD AND ROSEWALL (BACKGROUNDS PLAY BELGIANS BRICHANT AND WASHER
Tea and talk are brisk during intervals on public lawn, where season's fashions often are paraded.
Concessionaires rented thousands of cushions, offered paper sun hats for first time this year and sold many despite cloudy weather.
Wimbledon saw San Diego's 19-year-old Maureen Connolly at her amazing best, three weeks before she suffered a broken right leg while riding her horse, Colonel Merryboy, which was the gift of proud fellow Californians.
Unpaid umpire, a volunteer, perches above shadows of crowd to judge play.