Wimbledon preparation
The Centre Court, which has seen many top-class battles, getting ready for the action. Image Credit: Reuters

The Centre Court on the hallowed turf of Wimbledon has witnessed some extraordinary tennis battles in its 100-year history. That includes modern-day thrillers like the John McEnroe-Bjorn Borg classics, the Boris Becker-Stefan Edberg serve-and-volley face-offs, and Roger Federer’s brutal battles with Rafael Nadal.

Billie Jean King followed in the footsteps of Suzanne Lenglen to become one of the women’s tennis greats, while Chris Evert’s rivalry with Martina Navratilova found full expression on these courts. Steffi Graf was a later-day torchbearer on Centre Court.

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Countless titanic tussles

There were countless titanic tussles before Wimbledon went Open in 1968. Rod Laver’s epochal wins straddled both eras. There were historical moments too. Like Althea Gibson’s triumph in 1957 — the first African-American victor. Arthur Ashe’s date with history came 18 years later, becoming the first African-American male to win Wimbledon. Australian Aboriginal Evonne Goolagong-Cawley too won here.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic in action on the opening day of the Wimbledon Championships on Monday. Image Credit: Reuters

All of this unfolded on the Centre Court. That’s where champions are forged. Champions would remember the celebrations, while the losers recalled the pain of having fallen at the final hurdle. That’s more due to the aura of Wimbledon.

Cherished venue

The magic continues. The All-England Championships is the tennis calendar’s only grasscourt Grand Slam event. That makes it unique. A Centre Court appearance is also cherished even in the early rounds.

Officially opened by King George V and Queen Mary on June 26, 1922, the Centre Court offers a rarefied atmosphere. The royalty and celebrities make for a special occasion. Bowing and curtsying to the royals are mandatory.

As the Centre Court celebrates its 100th anniversary, nothing has changed. It may have a modern retractable roof and court covers, but the tradition continues to take the front seat. The tennis stars love it. So do the crowd.

It’s time for strawberries and cream for Wimbledon. The Centre Court maybe 100 years, but each blade of grass continues to weave tales of tennis excellence. Tennis heroes will come and go, but champions who held the Wimbledon trophies will be remembered forever.