Sport: Fire and Ice at Wimbledon

Sport: Fire and Ice at Wimbledon
Hot Mac and cool Chris prevail after a furious fortnight In all of sport, there is no contest as self-consciously august as
Wimbledon. Like a dowager duchess, Wimbledon walks hand in hand with a
statelier past, revering its history, requiring homage to its
traditions, never questioning its prerogatives. But in the 104th year
of “The Championships upon the lawns of The All England Club,” the
unthinkable finally happened: Wimbledon came under attack. Players
criticized the conduct of the tournament, fans erupted into a near
riot, and a government committee challenged the privileges of the All
England Club. The grande dame of tennis was, in short, told that she
had become a bit tatty and changes would have to be made. In the end, the most stunning change of all was made on Centre Court.
For the first time in half a decade, Bjorn Borg was beaten at
Wimbledon, and a new champion, John McEnroe, was crowned. McEnroe,
whose tantrums angered the crowds and, at one point, moved officials to
threaten his expulsion from the tournament, beat Borg, 4-6, 7-6, 7-6,
6-4, in a tense duel that saw two sets determined by tie breakers. The
only link to the past left intact was the dominance of Chris Evert
Lloyd. She won her third Wimbledon title by unnerving and outplaying
Hana Mandlikova, the most gifted young player in a generation, 6-2,
6-2. Before the U.S. sweep, Wimbledon was sent reeling by press and
government inquiries into British tennis. Those investigations
criticized the cozy relationship between the private All England Club,
which runs the Wimbledon championships, and the British Lawn Tennis
Association, to which it is responsible. Despite tournament revenues of
$5 million and a requirement that the All England Club help support
national tennis programs, only $62,000 trickled down to train aspiring
players in 1980. Even more galling, the 375 memberships in the
blueblooded club, which cost only $17.50 in annual dues, were said to
be worth the equivalent of $200,000 in subsidies and perks over a
member's lifetime. One side benefit: a generous allotment of Centre
Court tickets that could be scalped for up to $1,200 apiece before the
finals. Summed up London Observer Columnist Adam Raphael: “There is no
reason why the members of the All England Club should live off the
backs of English tennis players.”