news: Wimbledon

The third Grand Slam event of the year following the Australian and French Opens is here. Last minute news concerned the withdrawal of Andre Agassi with a persistent hip problem and No.4 seed David Nalbandian due to a rib injury, joining a host of stars absent from this year’s championships. Good news is that 47-year old former multiple champion, Martina Navratilova, will take to the court once more, not only in the doubles, but also, for the first time in many years, in the singles. In the men’s draw, defending champion Roger Federer has been seeded one with Queens victor Andy Roddick at two. Coria, and home favourite Tim Henman are at three and four respectively. Serena Williams heads the ladies draw, despite a lowly 11th place in the world rankings.

Here are some further facts about England’s premier tennis tournament:

Youngest winner – ladies: Lottie Dod (Eng., 1887), 15 years 285 days

Youngest winner – men: Boris Becker (Ger., 1985), 17 years 227 days

Oldest winner – ladies: A. Sterry (Eng., 1908), 37 years 282 days

Oldest winner – men: A. W. Gore (Eng., 1909), 41 years 182 days

Most titles – ladies singles: Martina Navratilova (Czech/USA) nine

Most titles – men’s singles: Pete Sampras (USA) and W.C. Renshaw (Eng.) seven

The first Wimbledon, then called simply The Lawn Tennis Championships, took place in 1877. Ladies have been competing since 1884. In 1987, a wooden racket was used in competition for the last time. Today, 52,000 balls costing 128,440 pounds sterling will be used during the tournament, involving 206 ball boys and girls.