Jul 6, 2023, 4:06:55 PM | by Craig Gabriel

Wimbledon 2023 had a shaky start with the weather but things should be turning around. Craig Gabriel writes from the All England Lawn Tennis Club.


Quite a number of years ago a prominent sporting shoe company had a huge billboard in London at Wimbledon time that highlighted a wonderful play on words. It read: “As usual it will reign again.” And as usual it has rained at Wimbledon.

It has been a soggy start to the 2023 Championships and by the third day the schedule of play was well and truly behind as 87 matches across 18 courts were scheduled in an effort to catch up and get things back on track. There was no need to panic because a time factor is built into the schedule but in order for it to be a level playing field for all the players it is important to keep things on track.

The players know only too well that when it comes to the grass court season there is bound to be rain interruptions. The ironic thing is the entire month of June there was barely any rain and in parts of the UK there was even a ban on using garden hoses but come Wimbledon and the rain turns up. Any coincidence that the words Wimbledon and water both start with a “W”?


But when the sun is bathing the grass courts at SW19, there is arguably no better place to be in the tennis world. And in the off chance anyone reading this does not know, Wimbledon is actually a suburb in south west London and SW19 is the postcode.

People believe that Wimbledon is this fuddy duddy place. A private club that is set in its ways and while Wimbledon certainly holds on to his traditions, it is in fact quite progressive. It was among the first few tournaments that leapt into the era of open tennis and introduced prize money; that’s just one example and it is a very big one, but then on the other side or the coin The Championships sticks to its rule of all white clothing for players on court. 

The All England Lawn Tennis Club will be thorough in examining any advancements and will introduce them which is very different to what many might think.

And then there are the more casual and social traditions of having champagne or Pimms with strawberries and cream. It would not quite be a Wimbledon if those were not consumed. And then there’s the Royal Box which enjoyed an extra celebration during the first week when Roger Federer was part of that tradition.


For the first time he sat in the Royal Box and watched the Centre Court matches but before that he received a two-minute standing ovation from the 15,000 strong crowd as all in the Royal Box including his parents and wife include g the Princess of Wales who is the Patron of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, a role she took over from the last Queen.

Federer enjoyed every minute of that applause and so he should have. He is probably the most revered champion to have graced the hallowed grass court and his appearance in the best seats in the house also marked the fact that it was 20 years ago that he won the first of his eight Wimbledon crown.

He watched ladies defending champion Elena Rybakina open her title defence which is one of those nice traditions that the two singles champions look forward to – Novak Djokovic did it the day before as he played the first match on the first day on Centre and Rybakina did the same on day two.


She said she was so nervous to have Roger watching her play like that. And then after Andy Murray won his first round, the exchange between the two gentlemen’s champions became the highlight of a day marred by lousy weather. It was terrific.

While there are eleven Wimbledon titles between Roger, Andy and Elena, one who will add to that tally in the future said he was “jealous” at not being on Centre for his first-round match. 

Top seed Carlos Alcaraz was not being precious, he just wanted to play in front of his hero. He said: “I wanted Roger to see me play.” It was almost like a kid seeking approval. He added: “I want to be able to talk to Roger.” Carlitos is truly a terrific individual and he should have no concern, Roger knows him all too well and like everyone else, is duly impressed.