Wimbledon Wide Open

A preview of the 2017 All-England Championships

It’s the one sporting event that the BBC will probably never relinquish, which you can’t blame them for because Wimbledon never fails to deliver. This year’s championships however, promise drama on an unprecedented scale. While drafting this article, I had this silly idea that Queen’s Club might give us some clues, but with Andy Murray taking an early exit it only points towards more unpredictability.

Both the men’s and women’s titles are (almost) anyone’s for the taking this time around. Serena Williams, the greatest female player of her generation, will be an absentee for the first time since 2006. Maria Sharapova wasn’t granted a wildcard and pulled out of the qualifiers through injury, so another big name goes missing. That leaves the usual suspects such as Petra Kvitova and Angelique Kerber in with a shout, but what about the latest Great British hope, Johanna Konta? Now ranked seven after a meteoric rise over the last year or two, there’s no reason why a partisan home crowd can’t cheer her on to victory. Okay, maybe we’re getting carried away, especially with a disappointing French Open campaign fresh in the memory, but a grass-covered home turf is a different proposition.

As for the men’s draw, it will almost certainly be Murray and Roger Federer heading the betting, with Novak Djokovic close behind. However, it’s the renaissance of Rafael Nadal that has been the main talking point this season so far. A tenth French Open title came all too easily last month, as if the Spaniard had suddenly turned the clock back a decade. But as legendary as he is and as ridiculous as it is to say about a two-time Wimbledon champ, grass is a surface that hasn’t come as easily, especially as we are in the most competitive era the game has seen. Let’s not overlook the best of the rest either, as any one of Stanislas WawrinkaMilos Raonic and Nik Kyrgios could be a new name on the trophy.

2017 will also mark 90 years of BBC coverage. Commentators Teddy Wakelam and Colonel R.H. Brand really started something when they covered the tournament on radio way back in 1927, and it was a mere ten years later that it became the very first live sporting event to be televised. The famous theme tune Light and Tuneful, composed by Keith Mansfield in 1972, was adopted for Wimbledon by the BBC four years afterwards.

So on Monday, July 3, we should be witnessing the start of something very special both on and off the court. Whoever is crowned the King and Queen of SW19 will be making headlines in more ways than one.

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