Stepping through the gates of the All England Club, with its long history and many traditions, is a dream experience for Australians competing at Wimbledon 2022.
Among the many players who feature in 135 years of Wimbledon champions are some much-loved Australian legends. From Norman Brookes’ first title in 1907 to Ash Barty’s mesmerising 2021 triumph, 15 Australian players have lifted singles trophies at the All England Club.
Several of them are celebrating significant anniversaries at the 2022 Championships: it’s 70 years since Frank Sedgman swept singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles in 1952, 60 years since Rod Laver claimed the second of four singles titles at Wimbledon and 20 years since Lleyton Hewitt became the 2002 champion.
It naturally follows that outside the Australian Open, Wimbledon is generally the Grand Slam that today’s Australian players most cherish. And as Alex de Minaur, the No.19 seed at the 2022 Championship explains, stepping through the gates of the All England Club inspires some unique goals.
“It’s always special,” said De Minaur, who will lead 15 Australian players (nine men and six women) in singles draws at Wimbledon.
“Like I always say, it’s history, its heritage, its culture, its tradition. I mean, the objectives are countless when you’re describing this magical place.”
No Ash Barty, but a field of 15 Australians will compete at Wimbledon which starts on Monday night.
— 9News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) June 25, 2022
That’s especially true for competitors who are competing in a Wimbledon main draw for the first time.
Jaimee Fourlis, one of six Australian players to qualify for the 2022 Championships, couldn’t help but note the backdrop as she talked to a small group of media on Friday.
“It’s a pretty cool experience,” she beamed. “I didn’t expect to be here but I’m here now, what a pretty cool view we have to do this interview. So (I’m) pretty honoured to be here.”
Fellow qualifier Maddison Inglis agrees. “I mean it’s just so it’s so green and beautiful – I don’t know, that’s just the two words that I kind of use,” said the 24-year-old West Australian. “You know, it’s clean and everything’s so organised – it just has an amazing vibe.”
Zoe Hives, another qualifier, is experiencing the All England Club for the first time. “It’s just – it’s just so nice,” said the Victorian. “You see it on TV but seeing it in real life is so much better.
“I just can’t believe that I’m actually here and I’m going to be one of those people playing.”
Welcome to #Wimbledon ?♀️
— TennisAustralia (@TennisAustralia) June 25, 2022
There’s a similar sense of the surreal for players making their long-awaited returns. Thanasi Kokkinakis noted it’s his first main draw campaign at Wimbledon since the 2017 edition, while grateful wildcard recipient Daria Saville last competed in 2019.
“It is pretty special to be selected as a wildcard,” said Saville, who has risen more 500 rankings places this year in her comeback from Achilles surgery.
“It is amazing. Wimbledon is beautiful. It is a dream tournament.”
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