Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Grass is Always Greener on Center Court

Top 10 Reasons Wimbledon is my Favorite Grand Slam Tournament:

1. It's the only major currently being played on green, green, grass (ironic, since tennis first started being played on that surface).

2. The dress code. White, or bust. White on green always looks refreshing, and it's easier to follow the trajectory of that fuzzy little yellow ball. Everyone has to wear white, which means the Fashion Police don't get to pick on a lot of players for crazy outfits, and players don't get away with much (like Serena William's did, with her black bondage gear at some other slam a few years back). The dress code is so strictly imposed, if a lady shows too much cleavage, she won't be allowed to play.

3. Tradition. No one pays homage to tennis as an institution as much as Wimbledon does. If anything, Wimbledon IS an institution. Dating back to 1877, it's the oldest tennis championship out there, and relishes the significance it plays in the history of the sport. Wimbledon never buckles under; case in point, letting the Isner-Mahut marathon run on forever, because a tiebreak in the 5th set isn't allowed. Not even if the game lasts for 3 days.

4. Center Court. The only time anyone is allowed to play on Center Court is during the Wimbledon Championships. All other days of the year, the grass is fertilized, cared for and basically mollycoddled. It's like the court equivalent of Kobe beef. Only recently has an exception been made: Center Court will be in use during the 2012 Olympics.

5. The view. Wimbledon has the most beautiful view in my estimation. When the camera pans out to an ultimate aerial view, you see green courts, great vegetation, and it looks like it's full of fresh air, sunshine and good fun.

6. Non-commercialism. Of all the Grand Slams, Wimbledon resolutely refuses to indulge in a spate of commercialism - this is why you barely see any company logos. It's glaringly obvious, especially on Center Court - among the very few are Rolex, Evian and IBM (even these are discreetly placed). Even the Ralph Lauren logo on the ball boy/ballgirl's uniforms is barely noticeable. Compared to Wimbledon, the US Open looks like a Nascar driver.

7. Prestige. Simply put, if you get to win Wimbledon, you get to be king of the (tennis) world. Which is why everyone has worshiped Roger Federer forever.

8. Rain delays. Watching the crew cover the court with a green tarp to protect it from rain is as much a part of the tournament as its green grass.

9. Henman Hill (or Murray Mound - they like to change the name depending on the latest Brit hopeful). The grassy knoll with a giant TV screen that plays important matches for the tennis faithful to follow is a great place for fans who cant get into Center Court but want a piece of the action. Officially, it's called the Aorangi Terrace.

10. The royal patronage. The visit of Her Majesty the Queen just a couple of days ago highlighted the impact of royalty on the sport - so much so that players were practicing their curtseys and getting themselves into a tizzy over what the Twitter nation calls #HerMaj (catchy!). Even Henry VII played tennis, and enjoyed it, from all accounts.

Extra: I still contend that tennis is the only gladiatorial sport left in the world. No other sport forces the players to get so close to each other, whacking away at a fuzzy yellow ball, surrounded by a hungry, cheering audience waiting for either to succumb. The silence prior to and the accompanying roar when a point is won only emphasizes the reverence and intensity that tennis fans around the world hold for this sport!

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