Jeff Tarango is back at Wimbledon for the first time since his walkout two years ago, when he stalked off the court during a third-round match after accusing chair umpire Bruno Rebeuh of favoritism.
Tarango was defaulted, fined and banned from last year’s Wimbledon over the incident. He now regrets the episode.
“It was a tragedy,” he said. “It was not good for sports. It was not good for anyone. I was a bad boy and my mother told me I was a bad boy. I believe it was a mistake for me to walk off the court. It was a scary incident for me. The bad thing is that I have this stigma before my name.”
But Tarango said he also might be wiser.
“In some ways it made me tougher,” he said. “In some ways it made me understand the world better.”
Tarango knows he will be the center of attention when he plays his first-round match against French qualifier Rodolphe Gilbert, but he insists he will be on his best behavior.
“It’s not going to be a big deal,” he said. “It’s going to be an anticlimax. There is going to be a crowd and they probably will be jeering. They will want me to do something, but I will not see anything but the ball. It will be boring.”
Tarango matches are rarely boring. Three weeks ago at the French Open, he taunted and mimicked Thomas Muster, infuriating the Austrian to the point where he refused to shake Tarango’s hand after the match.
It’s not unusual for homeowners close to the All England Club to hire out their driveways to fans as car parks during Wimbledon.
Christina Smith charges $24.75 a day but doesn’t pocket the money. She sees the arrival of the tennis fans as a means of raising some $8,250 for charity.
Smith has room for more than 30 cars in front of her house and has been raising money for charity for the past 20 years. It started with a local disabled theater group and now she passes on the money to the Royal Marsden Hospital, where her son, Jake, was treated for leukemia as a child.
Bigger And bigger
From a century ago when there were only a few spectators to watch a handful of matches, Wimbledon has grown to the point where large groups of officials, caterers, ground staff, ball boys and girls and security staff now work for at least 12 hours a day. Also the tournament has:
368 security guards and commissionaires.
330 court officials, including 45 chair umpires covering 18 courts.
182 ball girls and boys.
230 drivers to move players and officials to and from the club.
1,400 caterers serving 30,000 portions of fish and chips, 60,000 pounds of strawberries and 12,500 bottles of champagne.
Spreading the webs
Throughout its history, Wimbledon has been about rivalrys: Borg vs. McEnroe, Evert vs. Navratilova and Becker vs. Edberg. Now even the IBM internet has a rival.
Interactive Agency MHM Internet has created a web site called Wimbledon.com to challenge the official IBM site and calls itself a direct competitor rather than an alternative.
Through its sports division, called purple SPORT, MHM Internet says it is challenging IBM as main provider of high profile sports sites on the web.