A yellow ball was first used at Wimbledon in 1986. Today we’re promised something similar in the sky over Centre Court.
The sun isn’t here yet – but it’s on its way, along with a bumper day of tennis. Bet the unlucky spectators who were soaked here yesterday are delighted. They will get a full refund, not that it makes up for missing the sort of line-up on court this afternoon that tennis fans dream about. It’s going to be packed.
When I left the grounds just after nine last night, there were around 100 people in the queue. Returning at 7am today that had swelled to several thousand, including lots of hungover Aussies and a group of young men dressed as John McEnroe in his chalk flew up days.
They start early here. The chefs and catering staff are also in at seven, preparing for the masses. By 8am the covers were off and the courts were being mown and marked.
Security is tighter than ever this year. As I type this, a police sniffer dog is taking a walk under my desk. All those working here are reminded that Wimbledon is a potential high profile target.
For the moment, the real world remains locked outside the gates. Inside, after all the rain, it’s actually a surprise to see dashes of green – a reminder of what we’re all here for. Day two will soon be in full swing.
Brits in the queue were torn. Should they go for Tim Henman – first up on No 1 Court – or aim for Centre, where Andy Murray is scheduled to be the last match. Current British number one Greg Rusedski has been placed last on Court Two, which won’t leave him best pleased. Today’s line up also includes the likes of Agassi, Federer, Henin-Hardenne, Clijsters, Nadal, Roddick, Hingis, Hewitt and Nalbandian. Oh, and our old friend Benjamin Becker is on Court 11.
The official All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club Championships forecast is just in: “There is a small risk (20 per cent) of some spots of light rain around midday, but essentially it is expected to be dry throughout much of today’s play with broken cloud and occasional sunshine.”
The outlook for the rest of the week is prolonged sunny spells. It’s not just the tennis that is warming up. Back later.
For more images – updated daily – go to Wylie’s Wimbledon 2006 Photos.