via press release:

ESPN’s Tennis Team:  My Favorite Wimbledon Memory

A Special Place Evokes Special Memories


As the ESPN tennis team prepares for its exclusive live presentation of the fortnight at Wimbledon, The Championships, each commentator shared her or his favorite memory from the famed grass courts at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.  ESPN’s unprecedented all-live schedule begins Monday, June 25, and concludes with the Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Finals, July 7 and 8, respectively.




Darren Cahill – The joke’s on me

My best Wimbledon memory comes from my first time there.  I was 19, and my coach, the late Bob Carmichael, played a joke on me.  He told me the only way a player was allowed through the gates was in a suit and tie.  So that’s how I showed up.  With all the history and tradition of Wimbledon, it made sense to me.  So I get there and enter and for 10 minutes I was looking all around at the grass, the buildings and everything.  I was so mesmerized to finally be there, I was looking up, not down.  Then I realized I was the only idiot in a suit and tie and Bob and others were laughing their heads off at me.”


Cliff Drysdale – A wedding and a Centre Court match all in one day

I’ve been going to Wimbledon since 1962, and reached the semifinals twice (1965 and ’66) and three more times in doubles, but in 1968 I had the most interesting day.  I got married in the morning in the Chelsea section of London and played on Centre Court in the afternoon.  My bride, Jean, was the sister of my Davis Cup teammate Gordon Forbes.  And my partner that day – on the court – was Torben Ulrich, father of musician Lars Ulrich.  We lost the match but it was a beautiful time.”


Chris Evert – Winning with Jimmy

I won Wimbledon three times, plus one more in doubles, but my favorite memory is the first one, 1974.  It was not the most memorable match – 6-0, 6-4 over Olga Morozova.  However, not only was it special to win my first title on Centre Court amidst all the history and tradition, but my fiancé won the men’s singles title!  Jimmy Connors defeated Ken Rosewall, and it was also his first Wimbledon championship.  We then paired in the Mixed Doubles at the US Open and fell in the final, and our partnership off the court ended soon thereafter.  But we remain good friends and I remember 1974 very fondly.”


Chris Fowler – Twice Lucky

“I have two very different memories to share.  In 1985, I capped off a post-college European traverse with a visit to Wimbledon, and my buddy and I hoped to buy tickets outside the gates.  We were naive. American-style scalpers were nowhere to be seen. All seemed lost, until a respectable-looking businessman approached.  He reached out and handed us an envelope with tickets.  We were suspicious. Free Centre Court tickets?  What was the catch?  ‘You are Americans, right?’ he asked.  ‘I owe my livelihood to your country. Here, take the tickets and enjoy the tennis.’  We did.  Immensely.  Just sitting in Centre Court was magical, scene of so much drama played out on my TV screen through the years. Then we ventured to the outer courts, where a young German kid was making noise in his main draw debut. Boris Becker was his name. He went on to win the title a week later.  I think about that day whenever I walk through the Club’s gates at the beginning of each Wimbledon fortnight.


The other memory is sitting court side for the most dramatic event I have ever seen: Nadal and Federer’s titanic struggle against each other and Mother Nature in the 2008 final.  Before the fifth set, I had to literally drag my colleague Brad Gilbert and propel him back to Centre Court. He had predicted a Nadal win and was too ‘gutted’ to return after Rafa lost the fourth.  Brad felt Nadal was sure to lose a five-set heartbreaker for the second straight year.  But that was ridiculous.  This was a final chapter I could not let him miss.  I shoved him forward to our seats!  Nadal, of course, eventually took the title as darkness descended.  I remember a bittersweet feeling leaving the grounds that night, knowing I will never again witness that powerful a tennis match.”


Brad Gilbert – Every time is as special as the first time, despite the losses

The first time I walked through the gates of Wimbledon at age 21 it was a surreal experience.  The place is a cathedral, full of history that you’ve seen on TV so often.  Your eyes get wide and you just go ‘Whoa’ as you take it all in the first time.  But even now I think about that first time every year I go back and step on the grounds.  I get the same feeling.  Just being there is the best.  It’s like nowhere else.”  


Mary Joe Fernandez – Memories of Two Icons

I have to mention two memories.  My first Wimbledon, at age 14, I played my childhood hero, Chris Evert, in the first round.  My parents said, ‘Oh, you have a horrible draw!’ but I was thrilled.  But I was bummed we were on Court One.  Martina Navratilova was the defending champ and playing at the same time, so she was on Centre Court.  I was so excited, I had grown up watching her, and I held my own…for a little while.  A few years later I was playing Steffi Graf and Princess Diana was in the Royal Box.  I was mesmerized!  I couldn’t stop staring at her the whole match!  Then she and Sarah Ferguson came into the locker room afterward.  She was shy, but engaging.  She made you feel like you knew her.  She had a tremendous effect on people with her charisma and those eyes!  We talked about tennis.  She loved the game and even played.  It was great.”


John McEnroe – The Streaker

Sure, I played many memorable matches at Wimbledon and won the championship three times…those were all special.  But you asked memorable.  Well, before the 1996 men’s final between Richard Krijicek and Mal Washington, Dick Enberg and I were live on TV standing courtside previewing the match when a woman with no clothes on runs onto the court.  A streaker at Centre Court Wimbledon!  And as Dick was quoted later, she was a very healthy woman!  On the air, I said ‘We need a replay from every possible angle!’ My distinguished partner Mr. Enberg reminded me that it was a ‘family show.’  So I replied, ‘My family would love it!’”


Patrick McEnroe – Two Memorable Matches, Watching from Far and Near

I have two Wimbledon memories that stand out, and both involve me as a spectator.  The first was 1980, my brother’s famous match against Borg in the Final with that 18-16 tiebreaker in the fourth.  Was I courtside?  No.  I was watching from 4,000-some miles away in a Motel Six in Ft. Worth, Texas, competing in the 14 and Under National Hardcourt Championship.  I remember jumping up and down on my bed and screaming at the set.  My other memorable Wimbledon experience was the epic Roger-Rafa final in 2008.  I was lucky enough to call the match for ESPN3 with Mr. Dick Enberg.  I was there with the two greatest players of this era and a broadcasting legend.  What I remember most vividly is Nadal’s dejected look when he lost the fourth-set tiebreaker.  He sat down for the changeover and his dad looked at him and you see him say ‘come on, get up, you’ve got to be positive.’  It took 16 more games and was nearly dark at the finish, but it worked out for them.”  


Pam Shriver – Serenaded on birthday before first of 20 titles with Martina

In January 1981, Martina Navratilova and I began our doubles partnership.  That year’s Wimbledon was our first major together.  On July 4th – my 19th birthday – we walked out onto Centre Court to play the finals against the defending champions, Ann Smith and Kathy Jordan.  As we turned to curtsey to the Royal Box, a few people in the standing-room-only crowd began singing “Happy Birthday” to me, and it spread throughout the arena.  When they finished, everyone applauded!  An hour later, we won our first of 20 major titles together and the first of four straight (and five overall) ladies doubles crowns at Wimbledon.  I was lucky to play Wimbledon from 1978-1997 so I have lots of wonderful memories but that one ‘took the cake.’”

Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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