Ryan Peniston “almost crashed” his car after learning he would face Andy Murray in the first round at Wimbledon.

The 27-year-old will be only the second British player Murray has met in his many Wimbledon campaigns after beating Liam Broady in the opening match of his second title run in 2016.

Peniston was driving in Wandsworth on Friday morning when his coach told him the news, and the 27-year-old said: “I was literally just driving from my girlfriend’s.

“I had a text from my coach, Mark. He just said, ‘Andy!’. It’s pretty cool. I almost crashed. I was pretty pumped.

“I know Andy pretty well. We’ve become friends and we’ve practised quite a lot together. He’s a good guy.

“I grew up watching him, especially here. So it’s pretty special. I actually remember when he won it (in 2013), I was playing in Ilkley. They had it up on the big screen. I remember watching it and everyone was crowded around and it was a special moment.”

It would a big surprise if the clash is not scheduled on Centre Court on Tuesday, which would be the biggest occasion of Peniston’s career.

“I’ve got to try and prepare for it,” he said. “I’ve never gone through that before. I think going out on Queen’s centre court might be a little bit similar so I can take some things from that. I will just try and go out there, get ready for it and give it my all.”

Peniston’s only previous experience of Centre Court has been as a fan watching from the stands.

“I came and watched (Grigor) Dimitrov, I’m sure he played (Richard) Gasquet on Centre,” he said. “Then I watched Heather (Watson) in her epic match against Serena (Williams). I was there and screaming on the side.”

The left-hander, who overcame cancer as a very young child, earned a lot of home support last year with a breakthrough season on the grass, reaching quarter-finals at Queen’s Club and Eastbourne, beating Casper Ruud and Holger Rune, before securing a first victory at Wimbledon.


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This year has been more of a struggle but he had another good win at Queen’s, knocking out top-40 Frenchman Ugo Humbert.

“I think it’s going to be a pretty special experience to go out there onto Centre Court and play, against Andy as well,” said Peniston, who is an ambassador for Young Lives vs Cancer.

“For my family, I hope they enjoy it as well because they’ve sacrificed a lot for me to get here. Hopefully it will be a special day. I’m going to do my best to treat it like any other match.

“I’ve got to step out onto any court thinking there’s a chance I can win. I’m going to do that. I take into account that Andy’s an amazing tennis player, he’s won here twice. We know each other’s games pretty well from practising quite a lot. It’s going to be a good test.

“Hopefully the crowd is going to be loud, that would be pretty cool. But I’m not going to be surprised if the crowd are chanting Andy’s name.”

Andy Murray will take on fellow British player Ryan Peniston in the first round of Wimbledon.

The two-time former champion successfully avoided a seed and will be heavily favoured to beat wild card Peniston, who is ranked 267.

It is only the second time Murray has played a fellow countryman at the All England Club, with the Scot beating Liam Broady in the first round in 2016 before claiming his second title.

Things then get much tougher, with the winner of that clash taking on either fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas or former US Open champion Dominic Thiem, although neither is particularly comfortable on grass.

There were daunting assignments handed to the two young British debutants – 20-year-old Arthur Fery will play third seed Daniil Medvedev while 22-year-old George Loffhagen meets sixth seed Holger Rune.

British number one Cameron Norrie will open against Czech qualifier Tomas Machac but has his work cut out to match last year’s run to the semi-finals.

He is seeded to meet talented young American Sebastian Korda, who he lost to at Queen’s Club last week, in the third round, while he is in the same section as Murray and Tsitsipas.

As the top two seeds, heavy favourites Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz cannot meet until the final.

Djokovic, who is bidding to equal two major records with his eighth Wimbledon title and 24th grand slam trophy, opens against Argentina’s Pedro Cachin and should be happy with his draw.

Nick Kyrgios is lurking in his quarter a year on from their final meeting but there are major question marks over his fitness, with the Australian having only played one match this year following knee surgery.

Alcaraz, who is yet to go beyond the fourth round but showed his quick progression on grass by winning at Queen’s, will face veteran Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in his opening match.

Dan Evans, who is seeded 27th, faces France’s Quentin Halys first up while British wild cards Liam Broady and Jan Choinski meet Constant Lestienne and Dusan Lajovic, respectively.

The women’s draw saw a host of strong grass-court performers, including defending champion Elena Rybakina, last year’s runner-up Ons Jabeur and second seed Aryna Sabalenka, placed in the bottom half.

Also in amongst them is British number one Katie Boulter. The 26-year-old looks to have a decent first-round draw against Australian Daria Saville, who is coming back from knee surgery, but could play Rybakina in the third round.

Top seed Iga Swiatek will play China’s Zhu Lin on Monday and faces a race to be fit after pulling out of her scheduled semi-final in Bad Homburg on Friday through illness.


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Two standout draws saw two high-profile wild cards, 43-year-old Venus Williams and former world number three Elina Svitolina, paired together, while seventh seed Coco Gauff will play former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, who had to come through qualifying.

Svitolina reached the quarter-finals of the French Open in her first grand slam tournament following the birth of daughter Skai in October.

Of the other British players, three drew seeds – Heather Watson, who reached the fourth round last year, plays former French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, Katie Swan meets 14th seed Belinda Bencic and Sonay Kartal takes on 25th seed Madison Keys.

Harriet Dart and Jodie Burrage fared better – the former drawing France’s Diane Parry and the latter American Caty McNally.

Play begins at the All England Club on Monday.

Novak Djokovic was victorious back on British grass as he defeated Frances Tiafoe at the Giorgio Armani Tennis Classic at Hurlingham.

The 36-year-old will bid to equal Roger Federer’s record of eight Wimbledon titles over the next fortnight, and he looked fully at ease in a light-hearted clash at the exhibition event.

As he has routinely done in recent years, Djokovic did not enter an official warm-up tournament, instead prioritising rest and recuperation after winning his 23rd grand slam title at the French Open.

The Serbian practised on Centre Court with Italian Jannik Sinner on Thursday afternoon before making the short trip across the river to Hurlingham, where he struck the ball crisply in a 6-3 3-6 (10/7) victory over Tiafoe.

“It’s always fun playing with Frances,” said Djokovic. “We get along really well. Obviously Wimbledon’s round the corner so we try to get some match play. It’s a beautiful club.”

Of his hit with Sinner, Djokovic added: “It was a little bit strange I must say that they’re allowing us to hit on Centre Court before the tournament starts. It was the first time last year.

“This year I had the privilege again, to go out on fresh grass, feel the court. It’s the best court in the world. Every year feels like the first time. It’s going to be another great year hopefully for all of us.”

Earlier in the afternoon, British number one Cameron Norrie claimed his second victory of the week at Hurlingham, defeating Serbia’s Laslo Djere 6-3 6-2.

Norrie, who was knocked out in the quarter-finals at Queen’s Club by Sebastian Korda last week, again wore strapping under his left knee.

He played down any injury concerns, though, saying: “I’m able to practise as usual. Having some bigger days earlier in the week and then to get these matches has been great. I’m doing everything that I can to manage it.

“I think the most important thing is just to go out there and just to put it aside. I’m going to have some discomfort at some points and that’s how it’s going to be.

“I felt really good today and I had a great performance. I’m exactly where I want to be. It’s good preparation having the matches at Queen’s and here. It’s my favourite time of year. I’m really enjoying my tennis and I’m hitting the ball I think as well as ever.”

Wimbledon closed its newly installed roof over centre court during a match for the first time on this day in 2009.

A fourth-round encounter between Russian world number one Dinara Safina and Amelie Mauresmo was under way when play had to be paused due to rain.

Covers were pulled across the court at 4.35pm and an announcement informed spectators: “Ladies and gentlemen play is suspended and a further announcement will be made shortly.”

Four minutes later the lights went on in the four corners of the stadium and the state-of-the-art roof buzzed into life, taking seven minutes to shut completely.

Ian Ritchie, chief executive of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, told the BBC: “We’ve been waiting for it for so long, it’s the first time ever at Wimbledon somebody’s waiting for rain, but we’d still prefer the sunshine.”

The roof, reported to have cost £80million to install, was not used during play in the first week of the tournament except as a sun shade for the royal box.

Andy Murray branded a contentious poster of past and present Wimbledon greats a “disaster” as he highlighted the lack of prominence given to female players.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Murray was a notable absentee from the official All England Club artwork which features 15 famous players walking down a staircase.

Young pair Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz – neither of whom have made an impact at the Championships yet – stand in the foreground of the painting, followed by a selection of “epic” rivalries, beginning with Murray’s long-time competitors Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Of the six women depicted, only Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova are among the front 11 players, with the other four, including Serena and Venus Williams, at the back.

While Murray’s uncle and brother criticised his exclusion, the Scot insisted that is not the issue as he spoke about the poster for the first time since its release.

With a smile, he initially said: “It was a disaster, wasn’t it? I don’t need to elaborate any more on it, it’s pretty obvious if you see the poster.”

Asked about four of the front five groups of rivals being men, he continued: “That was what was slightly strange.

“I guess the players that are on the poster are ones that have had incredible careers and have been unbelievably successful at Wimbledon.

“But elsewhere are some of the greatest players of all time.

“For me, Alcaraz and Sinner are unbelievable players but it just seems strange that they were all sort of behind them.

“I personally don’t really care that much about it. But I can see when you look at it’s like, ‘that does look a bit strange’.

“Me not being on it is certainly not a problem.”

Murray’s final warm-up ahead of Wimbledon ended in a 6-4 6-4 loss to world number six world number six Holger Rune at the Giorgio Armani Tennis Classic.

The 36-year-old, who is ranked 39th, goes into his home slam unseeded and awaiting his fate in Friday’s draw.

While he would relish another meeting with reigning champion Djokovic before the end of his career, Murray is keen to avoid star names in the early rounds, albeit he is ready for that scenario.

“Ideally that wouldn’t happen right at the beginning,” he said of facing a top seed. “I would obviously want that to happen probably later in the tournament.

“But at the same time, because of the situation, I need to be prepared for that. I need to be ready to play against anyone right from the start.

“I’ve had some pretty tough first-round draws in the slams over the last couple of years so I need to to be ready for that and I think I am.

“Obviously, I would love to play against Novak again. I can’t remember the last time we played. It’s a long time ago.”

Murray moved well on court against 20-year-old Dane Rune at the Hurlingham Club but could not capitalise on his chances as he slipped to defeat.

Prior to last week’s first-round exit at Queen’s Club, he had won 10 successive matches in claiming back-to-back grass-court titles in Surbiton and Nottingham.

“Form-wise, I think has been good,” he said of his recent displays. “There are some positive signs there.

“Maybe the other players would see it differently but I don’t think there are loads of guys that would want to draw me in the first round. That’s a good place to be.”

British number one Katie Boulter insists successive first-round defeats have not dented her confidence ahead of Wimbledon following an early exit at Eastbourne.

Boulter was flying high after claiming her maiden WTA tour title at Nottingham on June 18 and expressed ambitions of one day becoming the world’s top-ranked player in an interview published on Monday.

But on Tuesday she failed to take her chances and was second best in a 6-4 7-5 defeat to world number 30 Petra Martic in the Rothesay International.

The 26-year-old’s loss in two hours and five minutes at a blustery Devonshire Park followed last week’s premature departure from the Rothesay Classic in Birmingham to limit her preparations for SW19.

“It wasn’t bad tennis – I’m playing someone ranked 30 in the world, I’m having a go at her,” said Boulter, who was initially drawn to face world number 10 Barbora Krejcikova before the withdrawal of reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina led to a reshuffle.

“Of course it was tough conditions and we could have that at any tournament, you could have that at Wimbledon, and I have to be ready for it and try and play the best I can on the day.

“Ultimately her experience showed today and she played better in the biggest moments.

“I feel like I’m playing some really good tennis. I’ve practised unbelievably well every single day this week. I’ve played seven matches going into the grass, I’m very happy with where I’m at.

“I don’t think I’ve lost any confidence this last couple of weeks just because I lost to higher-ranked players. I really don’t feel that at all.”

Heather Watson suffered elimination shortly after Boulter following defeat to Italian Camila Giorgi.

Watson, one of two lucky losers to benefit from the withdrawals of reigning champion Petra Kvitova (fatigue) and Anastasia Potapova (right shoulder), lost 6-3 6-4.

“I was prepared because yesterday I heard Kvitova wasn’t going to play,” said Watson. “I was very happy that I had another opportunity, but she was too good today.”

In the men’s draw, Liam Broady won the battle of the Britons by beating fellow Wimbledon wildcard Jan Choinski in straight sets.

The British number five, ranked 147 in the world, 20 places above Choinski, eased through 6-3 6-4 after breaking serve at the first opportunity in each set.

German-born Choinski briefly threatened a comeback following a break of his own in the sixth game of the second, but Broady immediately hit back before capitalising on his third match point.

The 29-year-old from Stockport will face Mikael Ymer of Sweden in the next round after he defeated Dutch ninth seed Botic van de Zandschulp 3-6 6-4 6-2.

Elsewhere, last year’s runner-up Jelena Ostapenko set up a last-16 clash with Britain’s Harriet Dart.

The Birmingham champion defeated lucky loser Barbora Strycova, who had replaced the absent Kvitova, 6-4 6-3.

World number seven Coco Gauff will play Britain’s Jodie Burrage in round two after she cruised past fellow American Bernarda Pera 6-3 6-2.

Also on Tuesday, former Wimbledon and US Open finalist Ons Jabeur overcame Italy’s Jasmine Paolini 6-3 6-2, second seed Caroline Garcia beat American Madison Brengle 6-1 7-5 and Beatriz Haddad Maia battled back to triumph 3-6 6-3 7-6 (3) against Marie Bouzkova.

Andy Murray will warm up for Wimbledon with a match against rising star Holger Rune at the Giorgio Armani Tennis Classic at Hurlingham on Wednesday.

The two-time former Wimbledon champion has opted for some extra match play following his first-round exit to Alex De Minaur at Queen’s Club last week.

World number six Rune, 20, reached the semi-finals of the cinch Championships before also losing to De Minaur and should provide strong opposition for Murray at the exhibition event.

Hurlingham frequently attracts the world’s best players and will also host world number one Carlos Alcaraz, top British player Cameron Norrie and defending Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic.

The Serbian, who will bid to equal Roger Federer’s tally of eight titles at the All England Club, faces exciting American star Frances Tiafoe on Thursday.

Cameron Norrie heads a depleted and slightly downbeat British men’s field at Wimbledon needing an upturn in form if he is to emulate last year’s run to the semi-finals.

The British number one, 27, could only make it to the last eight at Queen’s Club and is managing a knee issue.

But Norrie believes the grand slam format is better suited to him as he bids for another run deep in the tournament.

“I think it’s definitely a different match, playing best-of-five,” he said.

“I really think it should suit me better, and I really have been more experienced over the years now playing best-of-five-set matches against some of the other players.

“Usually as the match goes on and on and I get my teeth into the match, it usually works in my favour, especially with the way I play and the way my game style is.

“I think over time I can break guys down physically and just putting the ball in awkward situations, so I think the longer I stay out there, the better it is for me most of the time. So I’m really excited to get going.”

Jack Draper and Kyle Edmund will miss SW19 through injury, while British number two Dan Evans is not exactly positive about his prospects.

Evans, knocked out in the first round at Queen’s and on a run of six defeats from seven matches, said: “I’m not looking forward to playing any tennis at the minute.

“It’s tough. When you feel no confidence, it’s not a good spot to be in and it’s a difficult spot.

“You know, I’d love to say I’m looking forward to playing my next match but I’m not. That’s the honest truth for you.”

Andy Murray won back-to-back grass titles in Surbiton and Nottingham but his bid to be seeded at Wimbledon fell short – barring a host of withdrawals – after also falling in the first round at Queen’s.

Nevertheless, the two-time champion said: “Obviously on grass there are less players that are probably comfortable on the surface than the clay and the hard courts.

“Some of the seeded players are maybe not that comfortable on the grass, so there’s some draws that are better than others. There are also guys that are not seeded but love the grass courts and it’s their favourite surface.”

There are also wild cards for Britain’s Liam Broady, Jan Choinski, Arthur Fery, George Loffhagen and Ryan Peniston.

As Novak Djokovic bids for more history, Wimbledon organisers will be keeping their fingers crossed that the focus remains on tennis.

Two coronavirus-dominated years were followed immediately by the fall-out from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Wimbledon going out on a limb by banning players from the country and its ally Belarus 12 months ago.

The threat of further sanctions from the tours and a lack of support from the rest of the grand slams led Wimbledon to reverse its position this year, and Russian and Belarusian players will be permitted to return provided they remain neutral and are not funded by the regimes.

Organisers will have followed with some trepidation events at the Australian Open and French Open this year.

A ban on Russian flags in Melbourne did not stop a pro-Vladimir Putin demonstration taking place on the steps of Rod Laver Arena, which Djokovic’s father was – unwittingly, the family insisted – caught up in.

At Roland Garros, meanwhile, high-profile matches between Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian players saw the likes of Elina Svitolina booed for refusing to shake hands with opponents, while Aryna Sabalenka twice declined to do press conferences after being pushed on her political beliefs.

Similar behaviour from the crowd in the more genteel setting of SW19 appears unlikely but the prospect of the Princess of Wales presenting a trophy to a Russian or Belarusian player is very real.

Sabalenka will be among the favourites to win the women’s title while Russian duo Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev are both in the top 10 of the men’s rankings.

Another concern for organisers, meanwhile, will be the potential for environmental protesters to disrupt the tournament, with Wimbledon offering global exposure.

On the court, Djokovic will be heavily favoured to make it three straight slam victories having lost just twice at the All England Club in the last decade.

The Serbian, who has been overtaken again at the top of the rankings by Carlos Alcaraz, can equal Roger Federer’s men’s record tally of eight Wimbledon singles titles, while a 24th slam would draw him level with Margaret Court’s all-time mark, which has stood since 1975.

Having been struck down by cramp in their first slam meeting in Paris earlier this month, Alcaraz will be hoping for another shot at Djokovic, and he showed he is learning quickly on grass by claiming the title at Queen’s Club.

Last year’s finalist Nick Kyrgios has been hobbled by knee surgery this season and it is tough to think of realistic challengers to Djokovic.

Ten years on from his memorable victory over the Serbian to win his first Wimbledon title, it is stretching credulity to imagine Andy Murray could be in the mix again, but the Scot remains one of the few grass-court naturals and, if the draw is favourable, he will fully believe he can reach the second week at least.

British number one Cameron Norrie, meanwhile, will be hoping to emulate last year’s breakthrough run to the semi-finals.

The women’s draw is much more open, with former semi-finalist Sabalenka looking to overtake Iga Swiatek as world number one.

The Pole’s dominance on clay is not replicated on other surfaces, and defending champion Elena Rybakina should also be a strong contender having built impressively on her success.

New British number one Katie Boulter leads the domestic challenge in the absence of Emma Raducanu and is one of a number of home players who, draw permitting, is capable of causing upsets.

Wimbledon will miss the star presence of Rafael Nadal this year but several other high-profile names will be raring to go for the third major of 2023.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic will aim to extend his 28-match winning streak in SW19 and 2022 winner Elena Rybakina returns as one of the most prominent figures in the women’s game.

Here, the PA news agency looks at 10 players who will hope to light up the championships at the All England Club this summer.

Iga Swiatek

There is a degree of deja vu for the former Wimbledon junior champion who again arrives as world number one and fresh from winning at Roland Garros. The four-time grand-slam champion has been top of the WTA rankings since last April, but has made no secret of how “uncomfortable” she finds grass. After exiting in the third round in 2022, Swiatek will hope she can adjust to the lawn this time.

Elena Rybakina


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The unassuming Rybakina was the surprise package last year, keeping a calm head to win her first major at the age of 23. Victory occurred amid controversy given that while she represents Kazakhstan, she is Moscow-born and Russian state media celebrated her triumph. It has not affected Rybakina, who backed up her grass exploits by reaching the Australian Open final before winning Masters tournaments in Indian Wells and Rome to prove her credentials as part of a new big three in women’s tennis.

Aryna Sabalenka

Australian Open champion Sabalenka is the third member of the trio and will be out to make up for lost time following her enforced absence last year due to the ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes. It was a run to the semi-finals at the All England Club in 2021 that showed Sabalenka had the game to win a grand slam and the Belarusian ended her wait for major success in Melbourne back in January. She will be a formidable force in SW19.

Ons Jabeur

Jabeur’s love for the lawn is matched by her results on it. Last year’s finalist will be a fierce competitor in the battle to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish. The Tunisian’s style of play, with drop shots and deft touches aplenty, has earned grass-court titles in Birmingham and Berlin while in 2021 she made the last eight of the Championships, beating Garbine Muguruza and Swiatek.

Venus Williams


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A wild card for the 43-year-old veteran will continue the long tradition of a Williams sister featuring in the main draw at Wimbledon. You have to go back to 1996 for the last time neither Venus nor Serena were involved in the ladies’ singles. And Venus, a finalist at the All England Club in 2017, showed last week in Birmingham with two gutsy displays against top-50 players that she can still push the best and will be a star attraction in SW19.

Novak Djokovic

After titles at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, the calendar slam is on for defending champion Djokovic and who would bet against him? Djokovic has won the last four tournaments in SW19, is a seven-time Wimbledon winner and crucially will have no Rafael Nadal in his way this time. Djokovic dropped only one set in Melbourne, two at the French Open and the only thing left for him to achieve is winning each major in the same year, having achieved the non-calendar year slam across 2015 and 2016.

Carlos Alcaraz

One of the main rivals to Djokovic will be US Open champion Alcaraz. The all-action Spaniard won at Flushing Meadows in Djokovic’s absence before he lost to the Serbian while suffering with cramps at Roland Garros in May. Alcaraz has limited experience on grass and exited Wimbledon in the last 16 in 2022, but his impressive victory at Queen’s showed his potential and took him back to world number one. If he is to deny Djokovic, he will have to find a new level.

Holger Rune

With Jannik Sinner a potential injury doubt, Rune will hope to further push his cause as the star of the next generation. An impressive run to the Queen’s semi-finals showed his capability on grass after exiting in round one on his Wimbledon debut last year. Better known for his clay-court displays, having made the last eight at Roland Garros twice in the past 12 months, Rune will aim to keep his emotions in check and show his class in London.

Daniil Medvedev


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The Russian will be involved after last year’s ban on his compatriots and Belarusians. Despite being unable to compete in 2022, he still made two finals on grass and triumphed in Halle. Medvedev has never made it beyond the fourth round at the All England Club, but his 6ft 6in height and big serve make him a candidate for the title. He also stopped Djokovic achieving the calendar slam by beating him to win the US Open two years ago.

Cameron Norrie

Norrie’s big breakthrough at a major occurred at his home grand slam during a memorable run to the semi-finals in 2022. Djokovic stopped the British number one but the 27-year-old will have gained a huge amount of belief. The world number 13 should receive a favourable draw and continues to look more at ease on this surface, having made the Queen’s final two years ago. Backed again by the Wimbledon crowd, he will eye another unforgettable summer.

The tennis highlight of the British summer is upon us again with the 2023 edition of Wimbledon.

Here, the PA news agency picks out five talking points ahead of this year’s tournament.

Ukraine-Russian tensions to resume


This year’s Wimbledon Championships marks the 50th anniversary of a dispute which saw 81 male players boycott the tournament and changed tennis forever.

Top stars including defending champion Stan Smith, Rod Laver, John Newcombe, Arthur Ashe and Ken Rosewall stunned the sporting world by turning their backs on the most gilded event in tennis.

The build-up to the Championships was dominated by the ‘will they, won’t they’ saga, but the pervading opinion of the authorities was that there was no chance the players would sacrifice playing at Wimbledon. They were wrong.

“It was huge, huge,” recalls tennis historian Richard Evans. “It was the front-page lead in every newspaper in Britain for five days. The game would never be the same again.”

As with many more notable and bloodier conflicts in living memory, this one was sparked by a relatively minor dispute in eastern Europe.

But tensions between the warring factions – the players who had turned professional five years earlier, and the still amateur tennis federations administrating them – had been simmering for some time.

Those tensions boiled over when Yugoslavian player Nikki Pilic was banned by his country’s tennis federation – of which his uncle, General Dusan Kovac, was the president – for refusing to play in a Davis Cup match.

The recently formed players’ union, the ATP, duly threatened to boycott Wimbledon in support of one of its members, unless the ban was lifted.

“He came along at just the appropriate moment,” Evans said. “It was the classic situation of an amateur federation president demanding a player play Davis Cup when that player, who was a professional, had already signed a contract to appear in a doubles tournament in Montreal.

“His uncle got so angry he banned him for nine months. Then the International Lawn Tennis Federation (now the ITF) banned him for six weeks, knowing full well it would take him right into the middle of Wimbledon.”

The ATP board, comprising Smith, Ashe and fellow American player Jim McManus, Britons Mark Cox and John Barrett, chief executive Jack Kramer and president Cliff Drysdale, met in the basement of the Westbury Hotel in Mayfair to vote on whether to boycott, the day before the Wimbledon draw was due to be made.

Drysdale had canvassed the opinions of players at the recent tournaments in Rome and Paris – and to his surprise, found the mood to be mutinous.

“The media were sitting on the hotel steps, about 12 of us, waiting for the decision,” Evans said. “By then Cliff had been to Westminster to talk to the minister of sport and there had also been an injunction. It was all happening.

“But eventually they came down on the Thursday night to break off. Then they slept on it. The Wimbledon draw was being made on the Friday morning and the players were there practising.”

Cox and Barrett – staying loyal to Wimbledon – and Smith voted not to boycott but Ashe, McManus and Kramer voted for.

Drysdale therefore had the casting vote and he abstained.

“Jack said afterwards ‘I nearly fell off my chair, what a politician the guy is’,” added Evans. “Because Cliff was in a terrible situation. He knew if he voted to boycott it would all be on him and if he voted not to boycott it would be the end of the association.

“John Newcombe had phoned Jack in the middle of the night and said ‘if you don’t boycott, I’m out’. It would have started a whole run and people would have left the association.

“But by abstaining the vote remained 3-3 and (under ATP rules) the motion was carried. The decision to boycott was phoned through to referee Captain Mike Gibson, who had just done the draw and had to rip it up because 81 players had quit on him.”

The rebel players were branded ‘money grabbers’ by the press, but there was far more to it than that.

“The media got it wrong,” said Evans. “The sports editors were faced with ‘who’s the bad guy, who’s the good guy?’. And the bad guy couldn’t be Wimbledon.

“Therefore the players had to be the bad guys, which was very difficult because Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Arthur Ashe, John Newcombe, they were hugely popular sporting stars.

“So they settled on poor old Jack Kramer and made him the bad guy. He was supposedly leading the players.

“But it wasn’t about money. It was about detaching themselves from the stranglehold of the LTA and the ILTF, as it was then. The players finally said ‘we are not going to put up with amateurs telling us, professionals, how to run our lives’.”

Wimbledon had to hastily put together a new field comprising mainly eastern Europeans, whose federations did not allow them to be ATP members, and young players – including a 17-year-old Bjorn Borg – who were not yet contracted.

Three ATP members broke ranks; British number one Roger Taylor, Romanian Ilie Nastase (a divisive figure at the best of times and who claimed his federation made him play), and Australian Ray Kelbie, because he said he could not afford not to play.

“Roger Taylor was in a terrible position, because he was the number one, the big man in British tennis,” Evans said.

“But his father was a Sheffield steelworker and union man. And he was telling his son ‘you can’t be a scab’. But the media and the public were saying ‘Roger, you’ve got to play’.

“Eventually he played, lost in the semi-finals and wasn’t very popular in the locker room for a long time.”

As a footnote to an extraordinary episode in world sport, the name that graces the champions’ wall inside Centre Court – and pub quizzes to this day – is Czech Jan Kodes, who beat Russia’s Alex Metreveli in three sets for the title.

Carlos Alcaraz considers himself one of the favourites to win Wimbledon after picking up his maiden grass-court title at Queen’s Club.

Alcaraz overtook Novak Djokovic as world number one and will be the top seed at SW19 after a commanding 6-4 6-4 win over Alex De Minaur in the final of the cinch Championships.

The 20-year-old Spaniard was playing only his third ever grass-court tournament, and his first outside of two underwhelming visits to Wimbledon.

In his first match at Queen’s he needed a third-set tie-break to get past French journeyman Arthur Rinderknech, but as the week wore on he grew in confidence on the surface and by Sunday looked to the manor born.

“I had no expectations,” said Alcaraz. “But you know, if I have no expectation, I’m gonna win it.

“But honestly, I have a lot of confidence right now coming into Wimbledon. I ended the week playing at the high level. So right now I feel one of the favourites to win Wimbledon.

“I have to get more experience on grass. Even if I win the title, I just played 11 matches in my career on grass, so I have to get more experience, more hours.

“But obviously after beating amazing guys, great players, and the level that I played, I consider myself one of the favourites or one of the players to be able to win Wimbledon.

“I saw a statistic that Novak has won more matches in Wimbledon than the other top 20 players (put together). What can I say about that, you know? I mean, Novak is the main favourite to win Wimbledon. That’s obvious.

“But I will try to play at this level, to have chances to beat him or make the final at Wimbledon.”

De Minaur had been hoping to match his British girlfriend Katie Boulter, who won a first career title in Nottingham last weekend, but he just came up short.

“The positive for the week, for me, I think has been my mentality, my mindset, how calm I have been on the court and how I have backed myself at every stage,” said the 24-year-old Australian.

“When I’m in that kind of mindset and attitude, I can beat anyone. Even if things don’t go my way, I’m content because I know I left it all out there and I try to play the way that I want to play.

“So that’s a big positive for me coming into Wimbledon.”

In the wheelchair final, Britain’s Alfie Hewett was beaten 4-6 6-3 7-5 by Joachim Gerard of Belgium.

Hewett then teamed up with compatriot Gordon Reid in the doubles and beat Gerard and Stephane Houdet in a third-set tie-break to lift the trophy for the first time as a pair.

Andy Murray’s uncle and brother have questioned why the two-time Wimbledon champion is not on an official poster of past and present greats.

The All England Club posted on its social media channels an image of 15 famous players walking down a staircase.

Under the banner “here’s to the next generation of headline acts”, young duo Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz – neither of whom have made an impact at the Championships yet – stand in the foreground.

Behind them are a selection of “epic” rivalries including Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova and Serena and Venus Williams.

But Murray, who ended Britain’s 77-year wait for a men’s champion in 2013, is nowhere to be seen.

His uncle, Niall Erskine, tweeted underneath the image: “Appalling at every level, all about the men in the forefront and your own British history maker nowhere to be seen. You should be ashamed of yourselves.”

And Jamie Murray, who has been competing along with his brother at the cinch Championships this week, replied to Wimbledon’s Instagram post with “Where’s @andymurray?”

He added: “Didn’t they talk about the big 4 for 10 years until he smashed his hip to pieces when he was world No 1?”

Illustrator Grant Gruenhaupt responded by saying more paintings are planned.

Meanwhile, Jamie Murray and partner Michael Venus lost their first-round doubles match at Queen’s Club against Matthew Hebden and Rohan Bopanna in two tie-breaks.

Andy Murray was due to play in the doubles alongside Cameron Norrie later on Wednesday but the Scot, knocked out of the singles on Tuesday, has withdrawn from the event.

Five-time Wimbledon singles champion Venus Williams has been awarded a wild card for next month’s championships.

Williams, who played mixed doubles at the All England Club last year, has not played in the singles event since 2021 but rolled back the years on Monday to beat Camila Giorgi at the Rothesay Classic in Birmingham days after her 43rd birthday.

Williams competes sparingly these days and only played her first tournament since January at a grass-court event in the Netherlands last week before heading to Birmingham.

Her gutsy 7-6 (5), 4-6 7-6 (6) victory over Giorgi in more than three hours on Monday represented a first win over a top-50 opponent since 2019.

Ten singles wild cards have been handed to British male and female players, including Liam Broady and Katie Boulter, while Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina will be involved in Wimbledon after she missed last year’s tournament due to her pregnancy.

Former world number three Svitolina gave birth in October but made the quarter-finals at Roland Garros last month in her first grand-slam since becoming a mother.

Svitolina made the last four at Wimbledon in 2021 and could encounter more Russian and Belarussian players in SW19.

She was booed at the French Open after not shaking hands with Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka following her quarter-final exit.

British hopefuls Jodie Burrage, Harriet Dart, Katie Swan, Heather Watson have also been given wild cards.

In the men’s singles Ryan Peniston has received a wild card, along with fellow Britons Arthur Fery, Jan Choinski and George Loffhagen, with the trio set to make their main draw debuts at Wimbledon.

Belgian David Goffin, the world number 124, has been handed a wild card following his run to the quarter-finals in 2022, where he lost in five sets to British number one Cameron Norrie.

The All England Club has one more women’s singles and two more men’s singles wild cards to hand out.

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