At the start of July we were bringing the 2012 Wimbledon Championships to a close. Now on the last day of the month we are getting to the middle stages of London 2012 and the Olympic tennis event at the very same...
At the start of July we were bringing the 2012 Wimbledon Championships to a close. Now on the last day of the month we are getting to the middle stages of London 2012 and the Olympic tennis event at the very same venue, the All England Lawn Tennis Club. It has been a strange few days, just getting used to new rules and regulations. For those of us who have been attending Wimbledon forever it has been a bit of a transition. Things we can normally do, is not possible and you are left scratching your head in frustration. However it is a case of stopping and thinking that while we may physically be at the AELTC, it actually is not the case spiritually. The Club has handed things over to the London Olympics people and we have needed to follow what they demand. It goes for all aspects including the players. “I’m having a hard time putting my finger on we’re at the Olympics, we’re at Wimbledon,” said Andy Roddick with a bit of a laugh. “I’ve taken some wrong turns and places that are normally open are closed off now, so I’m having to learn different routes around this place.” During the Championships we can just saunter into the grounds through pretty much any of the gates but during the Olympics there are specific gates that certain badge holders can enter via and there are others that other types of badges can use. It’s not just unique to the tennis event at Wimbledon, it’s across the board, on all the sports during the Olympic Games weeks. It would be next to impossible to have things specific to certain grounds because the powers that be prefer the consistency. “There are many differences (and) you can only be ready for certain things,” said Roger Federer. “They have the Mexican wave going basically after one set is unusual. That took me an entire tournament and four sets against Murray in the finals to get the first Mexican wave. Not that I need it. But it was nice to see. “That, to me, summed it up, that it's a different atmosphere out there. You walk on court, there's music. That's not something that's ever happened here at Wimbledon, I don't think. Things are clearly a big change from a few weeks ago. They've rented out this site to the Olympic Committee, and they've done it the way they do their Games. It's something we have to get used to, but I'm happy I've had a taste of it now.” “Then you have the colors as well we play with and so forth. We don't walk on together. You know, one walks on before. Just many, many, little slight changes. It all adds to a different feel, which I'm happy it is the case actually.” More frustrating it would have to be for the residents who live in the immediate proximity to the AELTC because streets around the Club are blocked off with massive barricades. Solid concrete blocks with iron gates and fencing that is probably four metres high cordon off normally accessible roads. One thing though that has not changed at the AELTC is the wonderful, fun atmosphere that overtakes Murray Mound, or Henman Hill, whatever you prefer to call it. A giant screen shows matches and the entertainment has kept fans in the spirit of things. Wondering around the grounds it is great to overhear the people that have come to watch, excited and in awe of the fact that they are at Wimbledon, one of the greatest, most historical and iconic sporting venues in the world. “The crowd here is so different,” said Laura Robson who is in her first Olympics. “They started singing God Save the Queen in my warm up. You definitely wouldn't have that at Wimbledon, but it was very funny.” I can’t say that I get blasé about the place because I still get goose bumps when I come to Wimbledon each year but maybe seeing the faces on first-timers allows me to appreciate the place more. You see how excited these members of the public is to be somewhere they have only heard about or seen on TV. To see the famed Centre Court and how intimate it is or to be photographed next to the plaque on Court 18 where the longest match in tennis history was played in 2010 and more, it’s such a thrilling experience. “When Wimbledon's on, it feels like it's the only thing that's happening in the world, it's obviously not, but that's sometimes how it feels when you're involved in it,” Andy Murray said. “ Obviously, during the Olympics, there's so many competitions, so many events, you know that the pressure is somewhat different.”