“Oh, but now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads,
They say I’ve changed…”
Joni Mitchell – “Both Sides Now”
For more than the casual fan, walking through the Church Road gates into the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) could be likened to entering “The Game’s Holy See…” The 42 acres, a plot of land with 28 grass tennis courts, (18 of which are used during the tournament), is located in the London Borough of Merton. Regularly referred to just by its postcode SW19, simply said – It is “Posh”…
Because the AELTC, for the most part, has set in stone standards, change doesn’t regularly take place. This year, The Championships, almost seemed to have taken Joni Mitchell’s lyrics to heart.
Topping the collection of the 2022 “Reforms” was the exclusion of competitors (and journalists) from Russia and Belarus…and the subsequent reaction by the ATP and WTA not to allocate ranking points. The International Tennis Federation (ITF), in “Three Legged Stool” support, decided not to offer ranking points in the junior or wheelchair competition.
The new Centre Court “Player Entrance”, according to the tournament, “Creates the impression of a magic portal through which the world’s most skilled players are transported for public appreciation.” Two massive, hinged doors, befitting a luxurious London hotel were held open by ushers so that competitors could experience what was dubbed, the “Central Reveal…”
The umpires’ chairs on Centre Court and No. 1 Court continue to have a “vintage wooden” look but incorporated the modern technology necessary for making announcements and keeping track of all the match information.
When the score reached 6-6 in the final set of Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ matches, a first to 10 tiebreak was played.
There were no health restrictions relating to attendance for the first time since 2019. Queuing, which ceased due to pandemic precautions, returned to the delight of those sturdy enough to campout overnight, on the pavement or lawns near the AELTC, in the hope of securing a ticket for the next day’s matches.
Prize money in Singles increased to (£40,350,000) US$48.8 million, with more being dispersed in the early rounds than previously. The breakdown: Champion – $2.5 million; Finalist – $1.3 million; Semifinalists – $670,745; Quarterfinalists – $388,656; Round of 16 – $238,209; Third Round – $150,448; Second Round – $97,791; First Round – $62,686. Doubles Champions share – $662,000; Finalists – $338,507. Mixed Doubles Champions share – $155,445; Finalists – $77,722.
In an effort to create attention for the event, the Mixed Doubles final was the concluding match played on Centre Court on the second Thursday of the tournament.
A Boys’ and Girls’ 14 & Under Junior event was added to the competition and Quad Wheelchair draws were increased to eight singles and four doubles.
AELTC members, who for years “supervised” the post-match press conferences, were “shown the door…” and the player(s) were allowed to sit in front of the media and respond to questions.
With cryptocurrency falling dramatically prior to and during the tournament, the AELTC was forced to defend the release of “ten digital NTF masterpieces collectibles, secured and authenticated on blockchain…”
In a London story, a tournament spokesperson said, “This is not a money making or speculation enterprise. It is a community-building exercise, to learn about the benefits of this very early technology – which is akin to the early days of the internet. There are many, many types of ‘NFT’ – the range is akin to auctioning the Mona Lisa at Christie’s on one end of the spectrum with someone running a raffle at their local church. It is a very broad space….”
Coming back to the Purple and Green… In May, the AELTC announced that the listing of Ladies’ champions would no longer have the designations – Miss or Mrs.
“…Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day…”
And that was the case of The Championships in 2022…
Title photo by amer ghazzal