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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

LONDON POSTCARD

Etiquette reigns at All England Club


Staff writer

LONDON — British etiquette was on full display at the All England Club on Sunday afternoon.

News photo
Standing by their man: British fans cheer for Andy Murray during Olympic action on Sunday. AFP-JIJI

Individuals who wanted to walk to their seats at Centre Court, for instance, had to wait until between games to do so, creating queues here and there. This eliminates unnecessary distractions and noises for everyone while the match is going on. Good common sense.

When it was time to do so, the public address announcer issued the order: "Ladies and gentlemen, take your seats please."

Away from the hustle and bustle of Olympic Park, Wimbledon retained its laid-back country club atmosphere. For a first-time visitor, my instant thoughts on the historic venue were as follows: a spacious stadium, but one that provides an intimate feeling at the same time.

At the green press wooden table, meanwhile, there was a long pillow cushion in place over the old benches. (No complaints about that.)

Here's what I saw: Germany's Julia Goerges, ranked 24th in the world, earned a solid upset win in the women's singles first round by beating Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska 7-5, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4 in a 136-minute match. Radwanska, her nation's flag bearer at Friday's Opening Ceremony, had reached the Wimbledon women's final a few weeks ago, falling to Serena Williams.

Fan favorite Andy Murray of Great Britain, who also competed in this month's Wimbledon final — he lost to all-time great Roger Federer — advanced to the second round with a methodical 6-3, 6-3 triumph over Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka.

The Murray-Wawrinka match followed the Wimbledon etiquette script: quiet before a serve and collective cheers and claps after a point was made. No surprises there. Everything was orderly — by the book.

"Please, quite already," the P.A. announcer insisted on a few occasions.

Listening carefully, here's what was clear throughout the match: Spectators' favorite chants were as simple — but effective — as a "Pink Panther" movie series plot.

"Come on, Andy," fans shouted to Murray.

"Go, Andy!" were the words of their other chant.

Murray didn't disappoint and received a number of "ooohhh" declarations from those in the stands.

Heading to the Wimbledon souvenir shop, an obvious collector's item I was looking for was not available.

Postcards of the venue and pictures of legends in action on the grass courts were not for sale, and won't be during the Summer Olympics.

Instead, only London Games' official souvenir postcards with Olympic-related logos and designs are displayed.

"After Wimbledon (a few weeks ago)," a store clerk told me, "the entire stock was cleared out."

Sorry, Mom. I'll look elsewhere.



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