Splendour on the Grass Spirit of Wimbledon


Splendour on the Grass

This programme assesses the greatest players in recent years, including Nadal, Federer, Murray and the Williams sisters, and looks to the future of tennis.


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Transcript


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'As the world ushered in the 21st century,

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'the demands of a modern, top-class sporting event

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'kept the eyes of the Wimbledon organisers fixed firmly on the horizon.

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'Physical changes were afoot, most notably the handsome new Millennium Building

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'which, although state of the art, fitted seamlessly into its elegant surroundings.

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'Wimbledon was still unmistakably Wimbledon,

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'as innovation and tradition

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'continued to stroll companionably hand in hand at the All England Club.

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'But, as always at Wimbledon, there was a respectful nod to the past.

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'The Millennium Championships' parade of past champions on the middle Saturday

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'proved that, for a few, time can stand still.

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'The Centre Court crowd rose as one to welcome back the players

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'that had immortalised the tournament,

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'and there was a long-overdue welcome for one of its favourite sons.'

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He's back on Centre Court today for the first time since 1981.

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Show him how much we miss him - it's Bjorn Borg.

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CHEERING

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'Perhaps only then did Borg understand how much he had truly missed the game

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'and how much the game had missed him.

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'But the first decade of the new millennium

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'would be synonymous with an entirely new generation,

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'each of whom had yet to inscribe their names on the Wimbledon roll of honour.'

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CHEERING

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'In this, the final part of our series,

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'we take a look at the first decade of a brand new century

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'which would showcase dominance in both the men's and women's games

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'in a way never witnessed before.

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'But, as always, Wimbledon will also provide a fitting backdrop for the stuff that dreams are made of,

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'often from a most unexpected source.

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'But, initially at least, there was one story still to reach its natural conclusion.

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'Not since the halcyon days of Borg himself had one man been so utterly dominant of Centre Court.'

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'Pete Sampras came into the new century

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'bidding to win his seventh singles title,

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'a record and marker of such enormity

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'that even the American had difficulty putting it to the back of his mind.'

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I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't think about it.

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Sure, I thought about it constantly, about if it was going to happen here.

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Just, kind of, the drama and the build-up for the match.

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'The occasion demanded drama and the greatest stage in the sport complied

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'as the usually nerveless Sampras made uncharacteristic errors early on.'

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Well, who would've believed it? Successive double faults from Sampras.

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And Rafter wins the first set.

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'But Sampras wasn't about to let the situation get away from him.

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'There was simply too much at stake.

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'Having levelled, he then assumed command.'

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And he's taken it!

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And Sampras takes a giant leap towards a seventh Wimbledon title.

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I knew it was getting darker. I looked at the clock, it was nine o'clock

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and they usually stop about 8:30. Who would want to come out the next day and finish it?

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Game, set and match Sampras!

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CHEERING

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Fortunately, things just kind of worked out well for me there.

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It was kind of a perfect ending to the record, the way it ended that night,

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and then it was just kind of one of those surreal moments

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that I'd witnessed many times, but to be a part of it was very cool.

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'The sight of the usually impassive Sampras in near darkness

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'climbing into the stands to embrace his parents as flash bulbs pierced the gathering gloom

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'provided a suitably theatrical ending to the millennium fortnight.

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'But in any sport, a champion's invincibility is fleeting,

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'a snapshot of an era.

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'It takes a brave man to walk away when his powers are at their greatest.

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'All too often, the king is humbled by a pretender to the throne.

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'Roger Federer was 11 years old when Sampras won his first Wimbledon title.

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'But the talented teenager with a tantalising array of shots

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'showed composure beyond his years in his very first match on Centre Court.'

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He's done it! The champion is out!

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I heard so many people watched it on TV, so many people were happy for me,

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even though they were sad for Sampras.

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But maybe they felt like somebody new was arriving

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and that I could then also live up to the expectations a couple of years later was unbelievable.

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'The Centre Court is a place where dreams are made and shattered.

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'And in 2001, there was a fairytale in the making.

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'But the heroic knight at its centre was a battle-scarred Croatian

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'who had failed to lift the trophy on each of his three previous final appearances.'

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So many guys took the first chance or second chance.

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I got three chances and I couldn't take it.

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So I thought there might be something wrong with me

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and I'm probably never going to get another chance.

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'His appearance in the last 16 was deemed a bit of a fluke.

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'The final gallant twitch of Goran's topsy-turvy career.

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'But the aces kept flowing.

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'The tide kept rising and it seemed only one outcome was possible.

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'That year, the world of Wimbledon was slightly out of kilter.

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'When Goran walked out to Centre Court for his fourth final,

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'it was on the third Monday of the championship, christened People's Monday,

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'in front of a 10,000-strong crowd who had queued for tickets on a first-come, first-served basis.'

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I didn't think it was ever going to be that kind of atmosphere because it was Monday.

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They let so many tickets for the normal people.

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The atmosphere was not like in tennis, like in a football game.

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By that time I said, listen, this is another chance

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and this time if I don't make it, I don't know, probably I kill myself there.

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-CHEERING

-Game, set, match, Ivanisevic.

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To see what it meant to him,

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to just see his whole body shuddering with emotion on that day,

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that here was a guy who really felt,

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probably when he walked out the year before in the Champions' Parade,

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he felt as though he didn't belong, and a year on from that,

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there he is lifting the men's singles title.

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I was the committee member who was given the responsibility

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of taking Goran for his post-match interview.

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If everyone would like to raise their glasses to Goran

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-and a fantastic game.

-APPLAUSE

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I remember one of the reporters asking Goran the question,

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"What happens next? You've now fulfilled your dream, you've won Wimbledon."

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And he came out with this now quite famous saying of...

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My dreams came true and whatever I do in my life,

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wherever I go, I will always be Wimbledon champion.

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'The first decade of the new century proved a productive one for the women's game, as well.

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'Or, at least, for one family. The Williams sisters, Venus and Serena,

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'emerged from the city of Compton on the South Side of Los Angeles to dominate the women's game.

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'They changed perceptions about who could play the game

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'and how it could be played.

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'When Venus won the first of her singles titles in 2000, beating her younger sister in the semi-final,

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'the first of many encounters at Wimbledon,

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'it signified the start of a stranglehold on the Venus Rosewater Dish that would run and run.'

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It's so cool to be part of Wimbledon history.

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It's just... If there's going to be a slam that you do well at,

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you got to choose Wimbledon. That's been my choice

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and immediately I get more pep in my step

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and hitting better and running faster and serving bigger.

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My dad told us to pick a slam we wanted to win more than anyone else. I picked Wimbledon.

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'At the end of the 2010 championships,

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'the sisters had held the trophy aloft an amazing nine times

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'and only one final had failed to feature a Williams.'

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You think of Wimbledon, you think of classic, you think of history

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and it's always a buzz, every time I walk in there.

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There's a whole new spirit. I feel that spirit at every grand slam.

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I just really enjoy playing it and I enjoy getting there

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and just being part of something super special.

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'Sibling rivalry reached a whole new level, the Williams family the ultimate winners.

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'And the women's game was changed forever.'

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The first time I saw Venus in France,

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you know, like you are admiring ballet dancers.

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When I saw a few shots that she was hitting, I knew she was special.

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I knew she was something which was incredible.

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And every time they're in a tournament, the tournament has a different level.

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But you still have to have this kind of stamina inside of you

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which will allow you not to be afraid to be number one.

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And I think both of the sisters are like that. They're not afraid

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to be on the top of the whole game.

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'But, at the same time, a new power was emerging in the wings.

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'Eastern Europe produced a stream of top-class players through the first decade of the century,

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'many of them products of the tennis academies of Florida.

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'By 2009, five of the top ten seeds in the women's singles draw were Russian.

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'The Cold War in tennis dresses?

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'At times, the Williams sisters must have felt overwhelmed by the sheer weight of numbers.'

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I think when the Soviet Union broke up into its various satellite countries,

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a freedom overcame lots of these nations

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and sport is a way to express your desire for freedom

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and I think a lot of parents in those countries

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saw sport as a means that their kids could blossom.

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When I was national coach, I was selecting from 15 countries.

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It was good. It was difficult, it was tough, it was pressure.

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I mean, I had a great opportunity to choose all of these good girls,

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to put them together and prepare them the way I thought they had to do.

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And the money. It was a way out. A way out to a better life.

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'Born in Siberia, coached in America,

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'Maria Sharapova came to Wimbledon as a promising starlet.

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'She hit the ball like a missile and with almost as many decibels.

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'But the general consensus was the 17-year-old's time was yet to come.

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'Who knew that beneath the almost fragile-looking exterior

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'was a core of pure steel?'

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Nick Bollettieri came to me and was saying, "You're supposed to look at this great girl".

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I saw that fighting spirit which she had. Incredible.

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But, of course, when Maria came here and won Wimbledon,

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I think it was a little bit of a shock for everybody

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because we all knew about Dementieva, Myskina

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and we knew much is coming up.

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We knew she was talented but we didn't know that she would do it so quick.

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It was incredible.

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I mean, even though I had so much attention from the quarterfinals on,

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to me, whenever I stepped on that court, everything was blocked.

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I didn't hear anything. I didn't hear any voices,

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I don't remember what people said. I was just concentrating on myself

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and the ball and that's it

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and it's really amazing.

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'The Russian teenager produced the performance of a lifetime to win the title,

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'the trophy and the hearts of the millions watching at home.

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'The very first television broadcast from Wimbledon was in 1937

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'and it still remains the principal way that most people enjoy the tournament.

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'But the huge leaps forward in technology

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'have meant that the nature of the broadcast is rapidly changing.'

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Radio first started here way back, almost at the turn of the century,

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which was the first broadcast of Wimbledon.

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We were probably most notably the first live colour broadcast in the United Kingdom.

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The notion that what you'd been watching originally

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was black and white, no chance of the vivid green of the grass and so on,

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suddenly being converted into colour was fantastic.

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In many ways, that's what kick-started the developments.

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And two or three years ago, we became a fully high-definition tournament,

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one of the first to do that.

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And this year, on our 125th,

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we'll be doing 3D coverage from Centre Court of the final stages of the tournament for the first time.

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We have got a number of broadcasters fighting over our rights

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and what we seek is to try and find the best financial deal

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but also the deal that gives us the best coverage in terms of reaching the most people

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within that territory that we possibly can.

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I think the whole intention is to make sure that we reach all audiences

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wherever they are and how they can view us.

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The net clearly is where it's at. It's a very difficult beast.

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It's a different beast for those of us from a particular background and those of us of my age.

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We're learning new techniques and we're learning how it should be done.

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But actually, it's where significantly more people every year are getting their Wimbledon coverage

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and Wimbledon information from and we really have to be alongside that if not leading it.

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'Wimbledon's official supplier of information technology is IBM,

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'a relationship that began modestly with graphics for the BBC in 1990

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'before evolving into the state-of-the-art system it is today.'

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The first year that the public were involved

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outside of the BBC graphic statistics was 1996

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when IBM created the official website.

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1999 was the first year that we did an on-site system for the public, players and press

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which gave detailed and real-time statistics

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as each match was progressing on the show courts.

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And over the years since then, we've expanded that out to not just show courts

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but every single court that's in play at Wimbledon.

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So for every score that's played on court,

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the chair umpire records what's happened.

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That data flows back to the IBM scoring system

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and is sent out over an internet link to our three data centres

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where it's then pushed out to the millions of people who are watching the website live in real time.

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And for that chain of events to happen is actually sub-seconds.

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So very often you'll be watching on the website, you'll see the score updated

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before the umpire calls it on court because he's waiting for the applause to die down.

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'Wimbledon is a tournament that has thrived on rivalries.

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'Incredible finals that have staked a claim for the title Best Match Ever.

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'Borg-McEnroe. Navratilova-Evert. Becker-Edberg.

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'But the class of 2008 was extra-special.

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'When Roger Federer walked from the dressing room on the final Sunday,

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'he was aiming for a record-breaking sixth consecutive title.

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'But it was by no means a foregone conclusion.

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'Rafael Nadal, the dynamic Spaniard,

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'had honed his grass-court game to near perfection

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'and a mouth-watering clash awaited the Centre Court crowd.

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'Finally, here was a player deemed a worthy opponent to the mercurial Swiss.

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'His five previous titles were an achievement of almost mythical proportions

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'but had rarely seemed in doubt such was Federer's utter dominance on the grass.'

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Having won five in a row, for me, it's an absolute dream come true.

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It's almost disbelief, still, to some degree. People see me in a different way.

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Now when they see me play, they feel they're seeing history at work.

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It's different now than before. Times have definitely changed.

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There was a sense at that match, right from the word go,

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it was going to be a very special occasion.

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If you were going to map out, you know, when is tennis at its peak,

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it's when the two best players who have this rivalry face each other

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in the final match of the great tournament, Wimbledon.

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'Just 12 months earlier, Federer had equalled Borg's record of five titles on the bounce.

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'In 1981, McEnroe, a flash left-hander,

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'had finally prevailed against the cool Swede

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'and the comparisons with this match were the stuff journalists' dreams were made of.'

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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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'Nadal's fire power had found its range and the reigning champion appeared shell-shocked.

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'90 minutes into the match and Federer was staring down the barrel of a two-set deficit.'

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Federer comes out in the second set, gets an early lead, and Nadal storms back,

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and you really thought that the way that second set went,

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Federer had it and blew it.

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What does this guy really have left for the rest of the day?

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You put yourself in Nadal's shoes. You're playing the player

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who is the king of Wimbledon at that stage,

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you're two sets to love up in the final.

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Now, try and imagine how, mentally, he must be feeling.

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"Obviously, if I win the next set, I'm the champion

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"but can I possibly keep up this standard of play that I've had for sets one and two?

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"Maybe I can, but somehow, Roger's got to be Roger in a minute."

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-Fault!

-Federer is challenging on the left baseline. The ball was called out.

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'To the relief of the crowd, Federer's pinpoint accuracy had returned,

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'although it took the electronic brain of Hawk-Eye to confirm it.

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'Ironic, since the world number one had made no secret

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'of his distaste for an innovation he deemed an affront to sport's moral code

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'but which was now a fixture on tennis courts the world over.'

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I think any technology that can improve the game

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I think is welcome. I think it's very good.

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Because it's micro-millimetres we're talking about, the decision in or out.

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Essentially, we set up five cameras for each end.

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These cameras are set up, focused on that half of the court

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and then they work individually with a PC

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to track the ball in relation to the line in two dimensions.

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And then all that information is then fed to a control machine

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which acts as the brain of the operation

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where it just puts everything together.

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Then once everything's mapped together,

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it's put into a small file with just a simple track of the ball and where the player's gone,

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and then that forwards to the virtual reality side of it,

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which is what everyone sees at home, the pretty end of the system

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which lets you see whether the ball's in or out.

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The level of error of a line call does roughly equate to about 3.6mm

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which is roughly the size of the fluff on the ball.

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Hawk-Eye shows how good the linesmen are.

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If you see, the players are only 30 percent right and the rest...

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They are 25-30 percent right. I think Hawk-Eye shows how good the officials are.

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'The titanic struggle continued,

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'the spectators spellbound and the play sublime.

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'As the Federer comeback continued in the fourth set,

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'this match promised to be the equivalent of Borg-McEnroe for the digital generation.'

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CHEERING

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It wasn't until really, for me, the fourth set

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that people said, "Wait a second, this is a special match."

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It's the final match on Centre Court before the roof comes up,

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it's one versus two, it's Federer proudly trying to keep his territory

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versus Nadal, the attacker, trying to really make his mark.

0:21:510:21:54

They played a great final the previous year. Nadal had never won Wimbledon. So much going on.

0:21:540:21:59

The fourth set was just tremendous tennis again.

0:21:590:22:04

Spellbinding. I mean, tiebreaks in it, as well,

0:22:050:22:08

and just the levels that Roger found.

0:22:080:22:11

'The momentum appeared to be with the five-time champion

0:22:110:22:15

'but Nadal was never going to lie down.

0:22:150:22:17

'His break in the 15th game of the final set proved decisive.'

0:22:170:22:21

-CHEERING

-Game, set and match Nadal, three sets to two.

0:22:220:22:27

That celebration, I think alongside Ivanisevic in 2001,

0:22:280:22:34

those are the two that stand out

0:22:340:22:37

through the sheer joy and the sheer emotion

0:22:370:22:41

and it coursing through their entire body.

0:22:410:22:44

Amazing feeling for me to win here at Wimbledon on grass.

0:22:440:22:48

For any Spanish, it's very tough, but for me, it is a dream.

0:22:480:22:53

I always dream it, to win here,

0:22:530:22:57

and now I have the title, so it was very emotional for me.

0:22:570:23:01

I think if you look at all the components of this match,

0:23:030:23:07

the quality of play, the swinging momentum, one versus two,

0:23:070:23:10

everything on the line, I think it's going to be hard to replicate

0:23:100:23:13

Federer-Nadal of 2008.

0:23:130:23:16

'The following year, Federer contested another epic match.

0:23:160:23:20

'But this time, the valiant Andy Roddick providing the opposition.

0:23:200:23:24

'It was the third time the two men had contested a Wimbledon final

0:23:240:23:27

'and it seemed as though the luck might this time be on the American's side.

0:23:270:23:31

'But in the longest fifth set of a men's final in the history of the championships,

0:23:310:23:35

'Federer clung on to win 16-14, securing his sixth Wimbledon crown

0:23:350:23:41

'and a record 15th grand slam singles title.'

0:23:410:23:45

I had my first win here in 2003,

0:23:470:23:51

I had a win here as a junior,

0:23:510:23:54

I beat Sampras here in 2001 and the rest is history.

0:23:540:23:57

I've had so much success here and it's the tournament I love most.

0:23:570:24:00

I love coming here. It's such an honour to be a member of the club and I hope I can do it again.

0:24:000:24:05

'But the duration of that final set would pale into insignificance just the following year

0:24:050:24:11

'when a first-round match between Nicolas Mahut and John Isner broke every record in the book.

0:24:110:24:17

'The two combatants spent 11 hours and 5 minutes over three days,

0:24:170:24:22

'slugging it out on court 18.

0:24:220:24:25

'Even the scoreboard struggled to cope with the ever-rising numbers.

0:24:250:24:28

'But eventually it was the young American who prevailed,

0:24:280:24:31

'70 games to 68.

0:24:310:24:34

'Isner and Mahut - some names are destined to be forever entwined.

0:24:340:24:39

'Rafael Nadal, along with Serena Williams,

0:24:400:24:43

'will defend his title in the 125th championships.

0:24:430:24:47

'The first organisers of the tournament would marvel now at the rich heritage they created,

0:24:480:24:52

'at the size, scope and luxury of the modern championships.

0:24:520:24:56

'But the beauty of the game, the aesthetic quality of the surroundings

0:24:560:25:00

'and the athleticism of the players would be easily recognisable

0:25:000:25:04

'a century and a quarter after Wimbledon's tentative beginnings.

0:25:040:25:08

"It is the want of variety that will prevent lawn tennis

0:25:120:25:15

"from taking rank among our great games," wrote Spencer Gore.

0:25:150:25:19

'125 years on, Wimbledon's first champion might be forced to revise his opinion.

0:25:190:25:25

'This is a tournament that means so much to so many.'

0:25:250:25:29

Wimbledon is very different to any other tournament on this planet.

0:25:350:25:39

Wimbledon, it's like a peak. We are trying to get in, you know?

0:25:390:25:44

It's like a star in the sky.

0:25:440:25:49

-Unique.

-Magic.

0:25:490:25:51

-Pure.

-Green.

-Amazing.

0:25:510:25:55

-Special.

-Tradition.

0:25:550:25:57

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:26:010:26:05

E-mail [email protected]

0:26:050:26:09

.

0:26:090:26:09

The last in a series of films celebrating 125 years of Wimbledon brings the story of the Championships so far to its conclusion.

In recent years, audiences have been treated to some of the greatest tennis of all time from some of the sport's greatest players. Nadal, Federer, Murray and the Williams sisters all feature and the film looks to the future and what the next 125 years may bring.


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