Are you posh enough for Centre Court?
The crowd at the tournament is considered one of the most sophisticated in all of sports. That means you are more likely to see members of the royal family than royal blue-painted, shirtless men with rainbow wigs.
To help you better fit in with the Wimbledon crowd, Information Please previews tennis' most important Grand Slam event, which begins Monday and runs through July 5, by letting you in on the most important topics of conversation around Centre Court over the next two weeks:
"I do hope that dreadful rain stays away. It causes such a fuss."
Everyone's always worried about rain at Wimbledon. Partly because with any light precipitation the grass courts become too slippery to play on and matches must be suspended. Also, with so many matches scheduled in such a short period of time, any weather delay causes a scheduling mess. Last year organizers were sent to the edge when the tournament was rained out for two consecutive days for the first time since 1909. At one point the tournament was 200 matches behind schedule! The opening days of this year's tournament look good: low 70s and partly sunny.
"How's the young chap Henman playing?"
The first athlete from overseas to win a Wimbledon singles title was American May Sutton who won the first of her two titles in 1905. The last British-born champion was Fred Perry, who captured his third straight title in 1936. The English think their best chance in 61 years is 23-year-old Tim Henman, now that the sport's hardest server, Greg Rusedski, is questionable with an ankle injury. "Tiger Tim" has sparked a bit of "Henmania" in the UK, but the youngster has to prove he can do what he hasn't done the last two years at Wimbledon; make it past the quarterfinal round.
"What's happened to the Yank, Sampras? After playing in all those tournaments last year he appears to be a bit knackered this year?"
Of all the words used to describe American Pete Sampras, "slumping" isn't usually one of them (neither is "knackered," for that matter). But the Centre Court crowd knows Sampras is staggering into this year's event. He has yet to win a Grand Slam event in 1998 and briefly lost his #1 ranking to Chile's Marcelo Rios after 102 consecutive weeks at the top. Sampras complained of being a little "burnt out" at the beginning of the season, but he should be re-energized for Wimbledon, where he's won four of the last five men's titles. He's also 63-14 on grass courts, which is second only to Boris Becker. It will be a good test for Sampras, but don't be surprised if he's still searching for his first Grand Slam event after the tournament ends.
"It'll be none too easy getting past that little Swiss girl."
They are not talking about pudding. It's Switzerland's Hingis who will be looking to capture her second Wimbledon title and fifth Grand Slam title in two years. She stumbled a bit at the French Open, losing to Monica Seles in the semifinals, but the 5-foot-6 Hingis is as powerful a tennis player as they come, and she always seems to play well in the big events.
"It's good to see Monica back. She's absolutely brilliant."
Monica Seles is back in contention for the only Grand Slam event she has not won. It's been a tough road back after a hiatus to recover from being stabbed by a rabid Graf fan in 1993. The recent death of her father after a long illness has freed her mind to focus on tennis again. Seles should play well, riding the momentum she created by beating Hingis at the French Open. It won't be enough, however, Hingis owned Seles in 1997 and should do the same next week.
—John Gettings is Assistant Editor, Sports, at Information Please.
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