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125th-year anniversary of Wimbledon creates excitement CODY OWENS sports staff writer Much has changed in the last 125 years. Empires dissolved. Communism rose and fell. Borders expanded and shrunk. The use of horses fell out of favor

with the mass-production of automobiles. Human flight became possible. The radio was invented, as was the telephone, television and the internet. Space, the last frontier, was entered. However, one thing that has not changed in this span is the Wimbledon Championship, with 2011 as the 125th year of the presti-

gioustennistournament.Wimbledon, the third of the Grand Slam tournaments in professional tennis, is held annually at the AllEngland Club in London, attracting the world’s top names in male and female tennis. The two-week long tournament began on June 20 and will feature its finals on July 3.

The tournament had its inaugural championship in 1877, with Gentlement’s Singles as the sole event. Starting in 1882, Ladies’ Singles were added. Since then, Wimbledon has expanded to include Gentlemen’s Doubles, Ladies’ Doubles, and Mixed Doubles. Adding to the tournament’s appeal is its rich collection of traditions. All players are required to wear white clothing. Royalty frequent Wimbledon, as the president of the All-England Club is the Duke of Kent, who presents the trophies to tournament champions. As recent as 2003, players would bow or curtsy towards the Royal Box when entering or exiting Centre Court, although this is now reserved for the Queen or the Prince of Wales. This tournament also saw among its spectators the popular royal couple, Prince William and the former Kate Middleton, who watched Scottish player Andy Murray defeat France’s Richard Gasquet on Monday. “If I’d known they were coming, I would have shaved,” said a smiling Murray to the Associated Press. “But it was nice.” Wimbledon is famous for being the sole tournament in the Grand Slam to feature grass courts, which decrease the bounce of balls while maintaining the speed, forcing players to reach the ball quicker. While being a hindrance to some players, these courts have allowed others, such as Roger Federer and Venus Williams, to shine. A major detriment of Wimbledon’s courts, however, is the nature of grass courts to become slippery when wet, forcing courts to be abandoned for the day in the event of rain. This issue was partially addressed in 2009 when the All-England Club unveiled a retractable roof over Centre Court, allowing for play during poor weather. With the new roof came an air management system and floodlights to replicate the atmosphere of a sunny day. The 2011 tournament has proven to be worthy of the excitement of the 125th anniversary. In the Gentleman’s Singles, defending champion Rafael Nadal has shown why he is the number-one ranked player in the world. The two-time winner of Wimbledon has dominated his opponents, reaching round 16 without dropping a set for the first time. However, in a match Monday against Juan Martin Del Potro, Nadal was forced to take a timeout after the first-set tiebreaker due to an injury in his left foot. He grasped the victory from Del Potro, but concerns have been raised about the remainder of the tourna-

ment. Nadal was unable to defend his 2008 Wimbledon title due to tendonitis in his knees, so it remains to be seen how this present injury will affect his performance. Adding to Nadal’s worries is U.S. player Mardy Fish, the last remaining American in the tournament after Monday. 10th-seeded Fish defeated 2010 Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych in an impressive match, hitting 23 aces and saving two break points, putting him in his first Wimbledon quarterfinal match. Although Fish has lost to Nadal all five times they have played, the combination of Nadal’s foot injury and Fish’s superb playing makes the result of their quarterfinal match on June 29 anyone’s guess. Swedish great and number three seed Roger Federer has also had impressive tournament play. In his match against Mikhail Youzhny of Russia on Monday, Federer lost the first set to the 18th-seeded Youzhny, causing a rustling in the crowd about the Swede. However, Federer swiftly rose to dominate the match, winning the next three sets 6-3. Federer plays Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France in the quarterfinals on Sunday. Provided that both Federer and Nadal make it past their opponents on Wednesday, fans might be treated to a rematch of one of the greatest and most electrifying rivalries in tennis since the era of Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. In the Ladies’ Singles division, a disappointing turnout from Venus and Serena Williams saw the sisters both eliminated from the tournament. Venus Williams lost to Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova on Monday. 7th-seeded Serena Williams played 9th-seeded Marion Bartoli of France on Monday. In their two previous matchups, Serena had beaten Bartoli; however, Bartoli changed that, defeating Serena in straight sets during their match. Serena has been plagued with injury lately, causing her to take eleven months off without playing. The semifinals and finals of Wimbledon are slated to be a thrill for fans. All of the contenders are playing great tennis and could create some interesting matchups in the remainder of the tournament. These top players have the potential to make the 2011 tournament memorable for reasons other than being the 125th anniversary. “We’ve all been playing really well…the top four or five guys really, for a long time,” Federer said to the Associated Press. “I think it’s exciting for tennis.”

Thursday, June 30, 2011 Print Edition  

Thursday, June 30, 2011 Print Edition of The Collegiate Times