There was lots of news at Wimbledon today. Not much tennis, but lots of news.
First, the tennis: Today, rain only wiped out 61 of 68 scheduled matches. That was a major improvement over Monday, when one match was finished. Today, there was time for about three hours of play on six courts, which was more than enough time for Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe, the defending champions, to reach the second round.
Navratilova needed 39 minutes to wipe out Lisa Bonder, 6-0, 6-2, and that included a two-minute spell when Bonder complained to the referee that the court was unplayable. There was no way Bonder was going to be given a reprieve, not with the Centre Court crowd still grumbling about Monday's suspension of play at McEnroe's request.
"I think my shoes might grip a little better than Lisa's," Navratilova said graciously. "And I guess she was doing more running than I did because I didn't have much trouble."
Neither did McEnroe. He and Peter McNamara resumed shortly before 7 p.m., having quit at 3-all in the first set Monday. McEnroe promptly took control, breaking McNamara with two terrific backhands to win the first set en route to a routine 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 victory.
McNamara, on the comeback trail after major knee surgery, simply couldn't get to the ball on the still-wet grass. "He hits the ball very well but it's obvious he can't move like he used to," McEnroe said. "I really hope he guts it out and comes back because he was a very good player (No. 7 in the world) before he got hurt."
Two seeded players did struggle. Gabriela Sabatini, the 15-year-old Argentine who is seeded No. 15, spent the rain delay watching old Wimbledon tapes with six-time champion Billie Jean King, 41, and five-time champion Navratilova, 28.
"It was kind of neat," Navratilova said. "You know, three generations of tennis sitting there together."
Sabatini then went out and played the first set of her match against Amanda Brown as if she still had stars in her eyes. She was down, 4-0, in the first set before she even realized she was about to make a quick exit from her first Wimbledon.
"I was surprised how well she played at the beginning," Sabatini said. "I was a little nervous at the start and I couldn't attack her at all. But after a while, I got more confident and won the match."
It wasn't quite that simple. Brown, 20, is a hard server who has played here since juniors. With the crowd at Court No. 1 solidly behind her, she hung in even as Sabatini overcame her jitters and began hitting winners to all corners.
"I think it took her a while to get used to the court," Brown said. "Once she got the feel of it, she played well. She has every shot you can imagine."
Sabatini, playing only her third match on grass, attacked more and more as the match went on, finally taking command for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory.
In the meantime, on No. 2 court, the famed jinx court here, fifth-seeded Anders Jarryd found himself in deep trouble against Claudio Panatta, the 25-year-old younger brother of former French champion Adriano Panatta.
Jarryd didn't want to play tennis today. Two points into the match, when a few drops of rain fell, he left the court, declaring it was unplayable. On all other courts, play continued. Jarryd returned 20 minutes later and played until it really rained and everybody quit.
When the two men resumed six hours later, Panatta nailed Jarryd's serves as if they were cream puffs and won the first two sets, 6-4, 6-3, then went up a break in the third. But as dusk closed in and the temperature began dropping, Jarryd lifted his game.
Down, 3-2, he broke Panatta with two hard backhand returns, one down the line, the other cross court. Then, leading by 5-4, he broke for the set, banging a forehand return past Panatta so quickly to reach set point that all the Italian could do was moan loudly in anguish. A moment later, Jarryd jumped on a short backhand, cracking a forehand winner for the set.
The fourth set was a repeat of the third, Jarryd again breaking at 5-4, this time knocking off three winners in a row. By that point, Jarryd was talking to himself, slapping his legs, pumping himself up.
By that time, it also was after 9 p.m., and play was suspended, giving Panatta all night to think about it.
Eight matches have been completed in two days, putting the tournament 120 matches behind schedule. But the British are unruffled. Wednesday's matches will not begin early, even though more rain is expected.
Now the news: Most notable was the suspension of umpire Robert Jenkins by tournament referee Alan Mills. Jenkins, who umpired the final here in 1981 and 1982, was suspended by Mills after granting an interview to one of the tabloid newspapers here in which he suggested much stiffer fines for top players who misbehave on the court.
Jenkins has worked so many of McEnroe's matches that he became known as "McEnroe's umpire."
At the same time, the International Tennis Federation formally announced a series of recommendations that would limit the number of pro tournaments in which players under 16 may participate. With all the attention being given Sabatini and with the burnout history of very young stars such as Tracy Austin and Andrea Jaeger, both of whom were ranked in the top five by age 15, these recommendations may be passed.
The ITF also recommended that no player under 14 be allowed to play in pro tournaments. The Women's Tennis Association board of directors will meet Sunday to discuss the recommendation.
That was the serious news. Then, there was the report in one British tabloid that McEnroe will marry girlfriend Tatum O'Neal immediately after Wimbledon and that he will "dedicate" the tournament to her if he wins.
"That is false, completely false," McEnroe said. "Things are constantly being made up about us and I just wish these people would give me a 1 percent chance to answer before they print them, that's all I ask.
"Tatum isn't here just because I didn't want to deal with all this stuff all over again. It's too bad because a big event like this should be fun but it can't be. I can't enjoy it. If something like that (getting engaged) happened, I would be the first one to announce it. Then they can write and say good luck. Why can't they just say good luck and let it go?"