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Wimbledon: Unusual championships

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The Gentlemen’s Singles Trophy and the Venus Rosewater Dish – the Ladies’ Singles Trophy sit on Centre Court during a presentation to the media at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on June 26, 2021, ahead of the start of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships tennis tournament. (Photo by AELTC/Thomas Lovelock / various sources / AFP)

The Championships is about tradition but unusual times have affected some elements in the matrix. COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation in 2020. Therefore the defending gentlemen’s champion is the 2019 titlist, Novak Djokovic of Serbia. He will play the traditional first match on Centre Court tomorrow. However, Romania’s Simona Halep will not be defending the title she won in 2019, on account of a calf injury.

The preceding European Clay court season accounted for physical ailments. World number three, Rafael Nadal announced he would not compete in Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics. Just before the draw was made, world number five, Dominic Thiem of Austria, withdrew. World number one woman, Ashleigh Barty of Australia skipped the warm-up events to recuperate sufficiently for a title run in London.

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One tradition that will not change is the dress code of white attire. While there is a legion of colours in the men’s game there is a predominant black in the female arena. It was refreshing that some players in the grass-court warm-ups donned compliant white clothing. The most striking lady was Czech Republic’s Annet Kontaveit who lost in the Eastbourne finals to Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko.

During the qualifying event on Roehampton, after Netherland’s Indy de Vroone defeated Viktoria Kuzmova, an officer spoke with her. She reported later that, “The ref was telling me that the inside of my cap isn’t white enough.” Well, the Rule Seven of “Wimbledon’s 10 Clothing and Equipment Instructions” (updated in 2014) states that “caps (including the underbill), headbands, bandanas, wristbands and socks must be predominantly white except for a single trim of colour no wider than one centimetre.” The ninth rule demands that any undergarments that are visible during play must be completely white.”

Capping the regulations is a requirement “for common standards of decency at all times.”

The return of The Championships is a sign of a gradual return to normalcy in the world of sports. However, the strict enforcement of the all-white accoutrement indicates that some things will not change.

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