Few sporting events are so steeped in tradition as Wimbledon. But even this great institution changes with the times. As the gaze of the sporting world focuses once again on London SW19, let’s take a look at what’s changed and, indeed, what has stayed the same for Wimbledon 2022.
A pointless tournament
From the players’ perspectives the biggest change this year is that there will be no ranking points on offer at Wimbledon, even for the winners. Withdrawal of points is an unprecedented step for the sport’s governing bodies to take and is the result of a dispute with Wimbledon’s organizers over the exclusion of players from Russia and Belarus.
The WTF said the action was discriminatory and that the players should have been given the opportunity to play under a neutral flag as has happened at other grand slam events this year. The Lawn Tennis Association stood by its decision, saying it was acting on government advice. The result is that Wimbledon is effectively an exhibition tournament this year.
The famous queue has returned
In 2020, Wimbledon was cancelled for obvious reasons, while last year, the limited number of tickets were available for online purchase only. That means it has been three years since we’ve seen TV pictures of the famous Wimbledon Queue. Now if there is anything more archetypally British than camping overnight to queue for Wimbledon tickets, we’d love to see it. This year, the queue will be back in all its glory – and there will probably be cups of tea consumed by the dozen!
And so has Serena
Back in 1998, most of today’s top tennis players had not even been born. That was the year Serena Williams made her Wimbledon debut, winning the mixed doubles. 24 years on, Serena will be back in a bid to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slam titles. Those who monitor sports betting online will see she is a +1600 shot. Those seem astonishingly short odds for a 40 year old who hasn’t played a competitive tournament in 12 months. But where Serena Williams and Wimbledon are concerned, logic doesn’t come into it. Whatever happens, nobody will be surprised if she is back to try again next year. In fact, we can’t imagine Wimbledon without her.
Practice allowed on the show courts
The phrase “hallowed turf” sounds like a cliché, but that is how Centre Court and Court One are traditionally treated at Wimbledon, with players prohibited from stepping on either until it is time for their game to get underway. It hasn’t always facilitated the best play, with the world’s top players spending the opening games trying to get to grips with the pace and bounce. Indeed, home hero Andy Murray labelled Centre Court as “brutal” last year.
That’s all set to change this year. Wimbledon is stepping into line with Roland Garros and other top venues, allowing players some practice time on the show courts. It should help to bed in the surface and provide even more compelling entertainment.