But grass has its rewards, too.
It’s far gentler on the body than hard courts, which is why Nadal, a two-time Wimbledon champion, would love to see more grass-court tournaments. So would American Andy Roddick, a three-time Wimbledon finalist.
Grass also provides a beautiful visual for broadcasters. Nowhere is it more evocative than at the All England club.
“It’s really Britain’s front lawn that is opened to the world,” says ESPN tennis producer Jamie Reynolds. That notion of an iconic front lawn has driven the network’s approach to covering Wimbledon, he adds. And the advent of high-definition technology only heightened the intensity of its emerald-green playing fields.
“It never looked better or brighter or bolder,” Reynolds said.
But even Wimbledon’s grass gives way under the punishment of so many matches. Courts that start the tournament a lush green turn patchy and sparse. By this weekend’s finals, the area around Centre Court’s baselines will be brown, more dirt than grass.
That’s part of Wimbledon’s narrative, too.
“Gradually it starts showing its bruises and bumps,” Reynolds says. “And that’s the story of the strategy and the style of play. You see divots from racket tosses. You see where the players have taken advantage of their strength along the baseline.”
But what of Wimbledon’s future? Could its lawns one day go the way of the wooden racket, living on as random blades of grass in past champions’ scrapbooks?
Seaward, who will retire in August, doesn’t see that happening.
“The [All England club] has always steadfastly maintained its commitment to the game’s original surface, and as groundsmen we have always been very fortunate in being given the tools and wherewithal to maintain the courts to the best of our ability,” Seaward said Tuesday. “They are very much at the heart of the club. And I can’t see that changing.”
Says Evert: “I hope it’s around forever, because Wimbledon is just the epitome of tennis.”