But restoring the club’s grass courts to suitable playing condition just 20 days after Wimbledon ended has been a monumental task, involving the painstaking planting of pre-germinated grass seed to speed things along.
The goal is to make the playing fields as emerald green and consistent as they were in late June, when Wimbledon’s recent fortnight began. By the time Federer hoisted his seventh trophy on July 8, Centre Court was more dirt than grass, its once lush carpet savaged by the thundering footsteps of so many players.
As we watch 16-year olds compete in the gymnastics events, even the 20-somethings among us look back regretfully and wonder if our glory days have passed. Here, we take a look at which sports skew young and which allow for more longevity.
Coverage of U.S. qualifying, plus Olympics-related features, photos, graphics and video.
Still, even if the iconic look of the All England club’s courts can be restored for the start of Olympic tennis on Saturday, the overall look of the competition may be jarring for the purists.
Breaking with long-standing tradition at the club, Olympic hopefuls won’t be required to wear predominantly white outfits. That means a once-in-a-career opportunity for tennis pros to display colors — their national colors — on hallowed ground.
“It’s going to be different, but we have to be open to change,” Serena Williams said Tuesday. “We realize that this is the Olympics; it’s just played at Wimbledon.”
The Williams sisters are among seven current or former world No. 1 players on the 12-member U.S. team assembled for London. The others are Roddick, doubles specialists Bob and Mike Bryan, and doubles specialists Lisa Raymond and Liezel Huber.
In many ways, the U.S. squad reflects the country’s diversity. Huber is a native South African who became a U.S. citizen in 2007.Varvara Lepchenko, who was born in Uzbekistan and received her citizenship the same year, said Tuesday that she simply didn’t have words to describe her pride in representing the United States in the Olympics.
Huber made an attempt, explaining that she and her teammates all felt “pretty ugly,” having just gotten off a long flight and badly in need of showers. But the moment she tried on the U.S. Olympic team outfit designed for the Opening Ceremonies, Huber said, she felt transformed.
“They are very pretty,” Huber said. “And it looks wonderful.”