Week 1 remarks and royal blunders
LONDON -- Thoughts and observations from my first week of my first Wimbledon since Will and Kate were college housemates and Serena was on her way to her first title here:
I love the "scandals" that rock Great Britain and wind up on the front pages of tabloids here. Some are legit: "Rev drunk during wedding, twice falls down in the aisle," but the Wimbledon hullabaloo of the week was the Duchess of Cornwall being "ambushed" by the BBC when millions of viewers at home actually heard Camilla say she plays tennis "really badly" before adding "Maybe I'm too old."
It seems commentators John McEnroe, Tim Henman and Virginia Wade joined a receiving line to meet the Duchess and someone inadvertently left his or her mike on (why am I assuming it was McEnroe?), a clear breach, it was explained, of Royal Protocol.
Wonder what they'd think about Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, who dropped the F-word twice in a spontaneous show of hockey exuberance at Chicago's victory rally this week.
Price of a Wimbledon windbreaker (by official sponsor Ralph Lauren): 255 pounds. That would be approximately $388 to me and you. Ouch. (You can, however, get a sweatshirt for $190, so there's that.)
The Royal Box: Still here but now located in the new Centre Court and no longer right next to the press section. No evidence to support it, but just wondering whether the change was made after me and my American ilk (OK, maybe just me) possibly spooked the royal family by spending most matches staring obsessively at Princess Diana (and sometimes little Wills).
Swore I wasn't going to write the words "strawberries" or "cream," – act like you've been there before -- but it doesn't get any cuter than the little girl with the strawberries-and-cream stand set up on a street corner outside Wimbledon Village on Saturday morning. Wonder whether British people would find lemonade stands as cute.
Random thought: Egg salad here is very good but called "Egg Mayonnaise" and applied like a condiment, which is to say, not enough.
In a related note, Europeans don't eat at all hours of the day. For example, grabbing what we might pass off as lunch at 3:45 is foreign to them. This long-standing observation was shared the other day with the man making me a panini in the media cafeteria at 3:45. When I remarked how good and thin the sandwiches were, he responded, "Yes, you Americans do have big sandwiches."
I'm pretty sure that was an insult, but I let it slide.
And lastly, although former-athletes-turned-broadcasters is not exactly a new phenomenon in sports, the broadcast center here, as at all Grand Slams, is a veritable Tennis Hall of Fame. Martina Navratilova, Boris Becker, McEnroe, Chris Evert, Mats Wilander, Tracy Austin, Jim Courier, Wade, as well as Pam Shriver, Henman, Brad Gilbert, Mary Joe Fernandez and on and on, chatting each other up in the same hallway and in the cafeteria each day.
"It's cool, you run into all kinds of people; this is a great hallway to be in," Navratilova said with a laugh. "It's nice that it is a part of it, that so many of us now are doing it. It's great to catch up with people. It's the best way to stay in touch with the sport, and what else are you going to do, as well?
"For me, I like to share my knowledge. Billie Jean [King] said, 'You need to pass it on." So I'm not coaching, but I feel like I'm still passing it on in a way."
The other thing you notice, even having not seen these players in some cases since they were youngsters (shocked to see Becker had a line or two on his face until I realize that he is now 45 and not 18 as he was when I first covered him here), is that, unlike so many athletes in other sports, these guys are still extremely fit. Nice endorsement for tennis as a lifetime sport.
"This new generation -- Chris and Tracy, Pam and I, we're too vain to put on weight," Navratilova said. "And I like to be active. It's fun. You want to feel well."