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SBD/June 26, 2013/Events and AttractionsPrint All
The All England Club yesterday was "forced to defend its ticketing policy" after defending champion Serena Williams came out on Centre Court for her opening match "to swaths of unoccupied seats," according to Ashling O'Connor of the LONDON TIMES. If the match had not "overlapped with some long corporate lunches," Williams "might have played in front of a full house." Heather Watson "found it similarly difficult to muster the crowds to No 2 Court" in her defeat by Madison Keys. As an "unofficial watch was put on the empty seats, it was noted that the Centre Court was sparsely filled" for the David Ferrer-Martin Alund match. It was the "second successive day that the large numbers of empty seats had attracted attention." Even Roger Federer began the tournament "in front of a less than capacity crowd on Centre Court." Criticisms of corporate sponsors' ticket use "echoed the contoversy that marred the start" of the '12 London Olympics. Organizers said that an "estimated 8,000 tickets were sold on Monday morning before the queue closed at 7:45am -- the earliest time in the tournament's history" (LONDON TIMES, 6/26). In London, Jonathan Liew notes the All England Club "points out that corporate tickets are limited as far as possible." Public sales for Centre Court "account for 53 per cent of tickets, debenture holders 17 per cent and hospitality nine per cent, with the rest distributed among schools, players, officials, media and the Royal Box." That "points to the established resale system, by which spectators leaving the grounds put their used tickets in red boxes by the exit." Those seats are then sold for $7.70, with "proceeds going to charity." It is a "nice system, and almost unique among major sporting events." But it "does not account for those who arrive late, or fail to show" (London TELEGRAPH, 6/26).
SLIPPERY EVEN WHEN NOT WET: The slippery status of Wimbledon's grass courts has become an issue, as No. 2 women seed Victoria Azarenka was forced to withdraw prior to her second-round match today after falling in the first round and several other players have slipped in their matches. Azarenka today said that she was discussing the court condition with a supervisor and noted that "maybe there would be something to look into, that so many players got injured.” Azarenka added that players “cannot blame a court, cannot blame the weather, but there could be something” done to prevent injuries. ESPN's Patrick McEnroe said while everybody "loves the way it looks" on the opening day of the tournament, Wimbledon officials moving forward are "going to have to seriously consider having a little bit more play in the week leading up" to the start of the event. ESPN’s Mary Joe Fernandez said that “perhaps there is something that can be done” to fix the courts, including changing the fact that Centre Court and Court One get "no play on (them) until the Championships." Fernandez: "You have to start getting someone to practice on it.” Meanwhile, ESPN’s Pam Shriver said, “I want to know what the shoe manufacturers are doing to test the grass court shoes as grass courts are changing and maybe the surfaces under the grass are being rolled more.” ESPN’s Brad Gilbert read a tweet from former tennis player Kim Clijsters about the All-England Club and said, “A few years ago they made a new rule about the position and the length of the studs on the shoes to protect the pristine grass.” ESPN’s Mike Tirico, on shoe regulations at Wimbledon: “There are very specific rules. We could bore you with diameter and pimple density here for a minute but needless to say, they are very careful about what exactly you can wear. But whatever people are wearing, it’s not working" ("Wimbledon," ESPN2, 6/26).
The USGA today announced that CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, Calif., will "host the 2016 women’s Open" set for July 7-10, according to Ron Kroichick of the S.F. CHRONICLE. It will mark the "first women’s Open in the Bay Area and only the third in California." The choice of CordeValle is "surprising in some ways, given its remote location -- nearly 30 miles south of downtown San Jose" and "absence of rich, competitive history." But the USGA "covets holding one of its national championships near Silicon Valley" and its "corporate money" (SFGATE.com, 6/25). The AP's Antonio Gonzalez notes CordeValle had "all the ingredients the USGA craves: a wealth of corporate dollars some 30 miles north in the San Jose area, the space needed for a major championship and a scenic setting." Returning to California also gives the event a "later start time on the East Coast, which means a coveted primetime audience for television." Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will serve as "honorary chair of the tournament" (AP, 6/26).
FRAMING THE SHOT: On Long Island, Neil Best notes '13 U.S. Women's Open host Sebonack Golf Club is just 7 years old and "does not have the history of most courses that have hosted national championships." But the Southampton, N.Y., course can "compete with any when it comes to scenery." NBC Sports Golf Producer Tommy Roy said, "This is one of the most spectacular courses ever. It would be very similar to Pebble Beach, except in this case the greens aren't right next to the water." Roy said that giving viewers a "sense of place is a priority." That includes shots "from a blimp, which are not usually deployed for women's Opens, to show off the golfing neighborhood, including Shinnecock Hills and National Golf Links of America" (NEWSDAY, 6/26).