WIMBLEDON, England I have long loved tennis – both playing it and watching it – so Wimbledon was always on the bucket list for me. I’ve been watching it on TV since before that famous Borg-McEnroe tiebreaker, but I had never been to tennis’s most famous facility.
So I did Wimbledon for a couple of hours Saturday, on the first day of the Olympic tennis tournament – albeit in a strange way.
Gone were the crisp whites, replaced by players wearing all sorts of colors to represent their homelands. Gone was much of the sedate atmosphere. Still standing were the small signs reading “Centre Court,” but they were usually dwarfed by enormous Olympic signage in the odd mauve/purple/magenta color that Great Britain chose to define these Games.
But it was still Wimbledon. Roger Federer, only 20 days removed from beating Andy Murray in the men’s single final of the Wimbledon tournament, looked graceful as he dispatched his first-round opponent in a tough three-setter.
• American (and Greensboro native) John Isner – a huge Panthers fan who is friends with Steve Smith and regularly follows the team overseas on The Charlotte Observer’s website – was a rare dose of good news on a mostly bad day for American tennis players. Isner won his first-round match in straight sets.
The primary difference for the players at this Wimbledon is not the colors they wear, though. It’s the fact that the matches are shorter – best-of-3 sets instead of best-of-5. That makes for quicker matches and likely more upsets, too.
• Three Charlotte swimmers begin their medal quest Sunday. Ricky Berens has the 200-meter freestyle preliminaries and could also swim in the 4x100 relay preliminary or final. Cullen Jones will swim in the 4x100 relay as well, and Nick Thoman has the preliminaries of the 100 backstroke.
• Duke diver Abby Johnston also has a big day Sunday. She and her synchronized diving partner, Kelci Bryant, will compete in the eight-team final of the 3-meter springboard competition. Their odds are pretty good. If they can beat at least five teams, they will win a medal.