Is back, baby! On Monday, the world’s most beloved tennis championship code returned to SW19 two years later.
T minus three days to a fortnight of Hundred Barkers (for the last time), strawberries and – hopefully – a little on-court sun, if you’re one of those lucky enough to get a Wimbledon 2022 ticket.
So could this be Emma Radukano’s moment, after her fairy tale victory at the US Open last year? Who are the other British to keep an eye on? And given the ongoing war in Ukraine, what are the organizers doing about Russia?
From politics to point deductions, this is your guide.
Will Britain’s biggest stars fit?
The two biggest draws for home fans, Andy Murray and Emma Radukano, are both in the running to prove their fitness for Wimbledon this year.
Two-time champion Murray suffered a stomach ache in the Stuttgart Open final over the weekend as he struggled to serve against last year’s Wimbledon runner-up Matthew Barretini. At a time when he was showing his best since hip surgery three and a half years ago, it was a cruel blow.
The former World No. 1 looks set to take his place in the draw, but it remains to be seen how fit and ready he will be.
The same can be said of Emma Radukano. Wimbledon was her breakout tournament last year when she reached the fourth round a few weeks later before winning her story at the US Open.
She described her side strain as a “freak” injury but said she was practicing at Wimbledon this week and hoped it would be resolved by at least the first round.
Who are the other British to keep an eye on?
From a British point of view, fans can look beyond Murray and Radukano.
Probably the best place is Cameron Nouri. Currently ranked 12th in the world, he has won two titles this year but has never advanced beyond the third round of a Grand Slam.
Ryan Penston proved to be an outlay in the Sanchez Championship at Queens Club last week, the usual warm-up tournament for Wimbledon. The 26-year-old knocked out No. 1 seed and French Open runner-up Casper Road. Sticking to the island of love during Queens, Penston expects to use a similar TV viewing philosophy in the SW19.
Another rising star of the game is Jack Draper, whose father was a former CEO of the Roger Lawn Tennis Association. The 20-year-old left-hander has the perfect game for Wimbledon.
On the women’s side, Katie Bolter is back after just three months out of a leg injury but has shown early form on the grass.
What about the big international stars?
Serena Williams has not played on the WTA Tour since suffering an ankle injury in the first round of Wimbledon last year. When longtime coach Patrick Muratoglu began working with Simona Halep, it was announced that Williams was about to retire.
But he returned to Eastbourne on Tuesday with a doubles match with Ounce Jabber and is in the singles main draw at Wimbledon. At 40, his quest is still to match the record of 24 Grand Slam titles. She is currently behind Margaret Court and has reached four Grand Slam finals without winning a title since the birth of her daughter Olympia.
There are question marks about French Open champion Rafael Nadal who had to endure an injection to deny pain in Paris. He left her in the final without feeling her right foot.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion has avoided further injections for a treatment called radiofrequency ablation, which destroys nerve fibers that carry pain to the brain.
The tournament is coming soon for his great rival and friend Roger Federer, but Novak Djokovic, the third member of the Big Three in tennis, will start as a favorite.
The problem of Russia
Under the guidance of the government in the long run, the All England Lawn Tennis and Crockett Club (AELTC) were given two best choices. In response to the attack on Ukraine, they could ban players from Russia and Belarus from playing altogether or force them to sign a declaration of war.
Fearing possible retaliation for the players and their families, Wimbledon said it had no choice but to proceed with the ban.
The men’s and women’s tours – ATP and WTA – responded to ranking points from the tournament and all previous grasscourt events in the UK.
This raised fears that Wimbledon could become more than just an exhibition tournament, with people like Naomi Osaka questioning its participation. He was among those who withdrew from the big names, but cited Achilles’ injury rather than the Russian line for the decision.
The decision means the significant absence of world No. 1 Daniel Medvedev, while the highest-ranked player in the women’s sport is No. 6 Irina Sabalinka.
A Russian athlete, doubles specialist Natella Dzalamidze, has recently changed her nationality to Georgia and will play in the tournament – she says the decision was made before the ban was announced, but the change was approved later. Gone
What is happening with the expansion plans?
There is a growing sickness on the part of many residents towards AELTC over their passionate expansion plans for the venue.
The Wimbledon Park Golf Course offers proposals for 39 additional tennis courts, one of which is an 8,000-seat show court.
Opponents have cited agreements between the All England Club and Merton Council that could not be built on land when AELTC bought the golf club freehold in 1993 for 5.2 million.
Conservation groups also point to the fact that the 240-year-old landscape was designed by Capability Brown on land owned by Princess Diana’s ancestors, the Spencer family. Chris Baker, director of the Capability Brown Society, called the amendment a “disruptive act.”
Up to 300 trees are expected to be cut down – although AELTC plans to plant 1,500 new ones – while the lake will be excavated with a new boardwalk built around it as part of a 9.4-hectare public park.
Wimbledon, known as the State Master Plan, has defended its expansion, saying it aims to maintain its position as the world’s largest tennis tournament.
And what’s new?
Henman Hill, Murray Mound, Racudanu Ridge, or whatever you want to call it, has long been a feature of the fifteenth day of Wimbledon.
And the next day, spectators unable to go to the show courts will gather there again to watch the proceedings of the Center Court and No. 1.
This year, a 3,500-mile Heineman Hill will be built in New York. For the last three days of the operation – July 8-10, it will be held at Brooklyn Bridge Park, giving 1,000 New Yorkers the opportunity to experience Wimbledon at a time.
It marks a quarter of a century since Henmania – Britain’s interest with former British No. 1 Tim Heinman – began when a new large screen was erected in front of the mound of grass.