The miracle rejuvenating grass cure undergone by the Wimbledon groundsman, Neil Stubley, and his team worked wonders: the courts are now completely back to pre-Wimbledon green, save a few patches on Centre Court.
The players have started arriving in the last few days, others will follow over the next ones, and many were seen practising today, including World no 1, Roger Federer…
… World no 2, Novak Djokovic (right), and World no 4, Andy Murray (left)…
… as well as many others (David Ferrer, Feliciano López, Maria Sharapova, Bernard Tomic, etc.).
A great honour for Murray and Williams
As the Opening Ceremonies are getting nearer, the Olympic torch has continued its journey towards the Olympic Stadium, and today, one of the stops it did was Wimbledon.
To relay the torch around the grounds, and carry it into Centre Court was British no 1 and runner-up there a couple of weeks ago, Andy Murray, all smiles,…
… who then carried it all the way to Henman Hill/Murray Mound, where he passed it to tennis legend Venus Williams, three times gold medallist (singles in 2000, doubles in 2000 and 2008), to have it carried off the grounds of the tennis event:
It was a great honour for both players, and a very emotional moment for them, their close ones, and the fans as well.
In Venus’s case, it’s even more so that today is World Sjorgrens Day, an autoimmune disease for which she was diagnosed last year:
To carry the olympictorch on World Sjorgrens Day represents strength 2 triumph for every1 with autoimmune disease! twitter.com/Venuseswilliam…
— Venus Williams (@Venuseswilliams) July 23, 2012
And one as well for Tim Henman
At the end of the 66th day of the Torch relay, it was another member of the tennis community, former player Tim Henman, who was the last to carry the torch today and lit a cauldron in Tooting in conclusion of the day.
You can watch Murray, Williams, and Henman in this video of the BBC.
Tennis flag bearers
If Murray and Williams had the honour of being part of the Torch Relay, there are also, to this day, eight tennis players who will have the great honour of carrying their country’s flag during the Opening Ceremonies, this Friday.
At first, there were nine of them, but Rafael Nadal pulled out (and is replaced by NBA player Pau Gasol as Spanish flag bearer) and up until today, we thought that Tsvetana Pironkova would carry the Bulgarian flag. Finally, the Bulgarion Olympic Committee announced that their flag bearer would be gymnast Yordan Yovchev.
Nevertheless, among the 204 countries represented at the Olympics, to this day, eight of them will see their flag carried by a tennis player into the Opening Ceremonies, which is nearly 4% of them.
Here are the eight flag bearers of the tennis world (in alphabetical order):
- Marcos Baghdatis, Cyprus, World no 44
- Novak Djokovic, Serbia, World no 2 and bronze medalist in 2008
- Max Mirnyi, Belarus, co-World no 1 in doubles
- Agneiszka Radwanska, Poland, World no 2
- Maria Sharapova, Russia, World no 3
- Horia Tecau, Romania, World no 11 in doubles
- Stephanie Vogt, Liechtenstein, World no 227
- Stanislas Wawrinka, Switzerland, World no 26 and doubles gold medallist (with Roger Federer) in 2008
For the Swiss Olympic Committee announced today that Wawrinka would be their flag bearer, as Roger Federer, with whom he is set to defend their 2008 Olympic gold, had declined bearing the Swiss Flag for a third time, wanting to give someone else a chance to do so.
Not all the countries have named their flag bearer yet (among which, the United States), so there may be one or two tennis players to add to the list over the next couple of days. Who knows?
Side notes and quick facts
- The blog is now fully into Olympic mode, which means that I might post some news and photos over the days leading up to the Opening Ceremonies, and will, of course, cover the whole tennis event from the draw to the gold medal matches.
- The draw will take place on Thursday, July 26, at Wimbledon, and that’s when we will know who will be sorted where. Of course, I will provide you with a small analysis of the men’s singles draw at that time, fully aware that the Olympic tournament is about the most unpredictable of all.
- As far as the draw is concerned, in singles, if there are two players of the same country, they cannot be in the same half. If there are three or the maximum four, they cannot be in the same quarter.
- In doubles, the same rule applies: if there are the maximum of two teams, they cannot be in the same half of the draw.
- The mixed doubles draw will be held on July 31.
- The tennis event starts on Saturday, July 28, and ends on August 5, with the men’s medals matches, and the women’s doubles and mixed doubles gold medal matches.
- The men’s singles and doubles are all best-of-three, except the gold medal match of both disciplines, which are best-of-five.
- The gold and silver medallists in both the men’s and women’s singles event are not part of the Games this year, as Rafael Nadal (defending champion) pulled out (knee injury), Elena Dementieva (defending champion) and Fernando González (silver medallist) retired, and Dinara Safina (silver medallist) has been out for more than a year due to a back injury.