Wimbledon, that gayly anachronistic last home of sporting amateurism, is with us again - and the personal columns of the Times fill with 'Seats wanted for Centre Court' appeals.
Wimbledon, that gayly anachronistic last home of sporting amateurism, is with us again - and the personal columns of the Times fill with 'Seats wanted for Centre Court' appeals. Despite the thunderclap of Jack Kramer's announcement of his desire to move his circus into the sacred turf of this tennis holy of holies, play started today as usual with the newspapers devoting more space to prophecies and fashions than to actual play.
Many are saying that this should be a great Wimbledon for Britain, and a major part of the speculation about possible winners is centred on Christine Truman. Two weeks ago she was not even considered as a potential rival to Althea Gibson who won the women's title last year. But things are quite different after Christine's victory in the Wightman Cup two weeks ago. Still only 17, she is attracting a great deal of speculation and attention.
The sun was a noteworthy absentee from the courts during the early part of today - traditional Wimbledon weather is blazing heat and bright sunlight. But rain today stopped play, buckets of rain deluging the crowds around the centre court. Rain didn't stop fashion frivolity, however, nor hold back the crowds who arrived by back-at-work-after-the-strike-buses to queue outside the ground. There was, too, the usual jockeying for position when finally the gates were opened, to admit both players and spectators. First day at Wimbledon is personality time - Sylvia Peteres - the prominent television announcer, and Sir Ralph Richardson the much loved English actor, were among those caught by our cameramen.
Mal Anderson at 5-2, Ashley Cooper and Mervyn Rose at 3-1, Neal Fraser at 6-1, these are the favourites for the men's singles title - call Australian - and the bookmakers' odds. In the absence of Lew Hoad - last year's winner now with the Kramer pro-tennis Circus and therefore ineligible for Wimbledon play - the tournament today was opened on the Centre Court by Ashley Cooper of Australia and Geoffrey Owen, the unseeded 24 year old ex RAF Officer from Wiltshire, who gave a terrific display which made the crowd unmindful of the weather. Rain prevented play on several courts, and halted the Owen/Cooper duel after the first set had reached 8-8. When play was resumed in the more usual sunshine, Ashley Cooper went on to win 10-8.
A Gimeno of Spain playing on number 6 court against H.F. Walton of Great Britain won 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. Walton, a 43 year old Warwickshire player, gave away 20 years to Andres Gimeno from Barcelona. Although consistently beaten by Gimeno's larger service, Walton managed to hold his own in the early games by keeping Gimeno at the base line. But, in the end, those 20 years told against him. Age and Youth are on different sides of the courts at this year's Wimbledon.