- Title: Wimbledon is back as fans flock to championships with a difference
- Date: 28th June 2021
- Summary: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (JUNE 28, 2021) (REUTERS) SIGN SAYING 'THE CHAMPIONSHIPS WIMBLEDON' HENMAN HILL / MURRAY MOUNT CENTRE COURT BEING PREPARED MAN TAKING PHOTO ON PHONE VARIOUS OF LINES BEING PAINTED ROOF OF CENTRE COURT / PAN DOWN TO CENTRE COURT PLASTIC GLOVES ON HAND SECURITY STAFF AT GATES SIGN SAYING 'THE CHAMPIONSHIPS WIMBLEDON WELCOME' SECURITY GUARD GATES OPENING TICKETS BEING ELECTRONICALLY SCANNED TICKET FANS WALKING IN (SOUNDBITE) (English) TENNIS FAN ISABELLE CROSS SAYING: "We are so excited, we can't believe we are here. We have been looking forward to it for so long." (SOUNDBITE) (English) TENNIS FAN CHRIS GREGORY SAYING: "We have managed to get it as a group of mates so there is five, six of us here today, so really excited." (SOUNDBITE) (English) TENNIS FAN CLIVE STOW SAYING: "Well I play tennis, I play tennis about three times a week so I just come here to watch the players. Obviously I can't relate to so much to them as I am just a club player, but I mean it is just wonderful to see them moving around and hitting the ball as well as they do. They are entertainers and that is what we have come here to see, to be entertained, so we are looking forward to it." WIMBLEDON OFFICIAL PUTTING PLAYERS' NAMES ON DRAW BOARD DISPLAY SHOWING ORDER OF PLAY SIGN SAYING CENTRE COURT NOVAK DJOKOVIC ORDER OF PLAY FOR MONDAY SOUNDBITE (English) TENNIS FAN PHILIPP MEALE SAYING: "Obviously it is the atmosphere. I go to Roland Garros as well been to quite a few places abroad and they are all good. It is like a religion, you have to come. I used to go to church, but now I come here." VARIOUS OF COVERS COMING OFF COURT FANS WALKING AROUND VIEW OVER GROUNDS SIGN SAYING WIMBLEDON STRAWBERRIES STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM PEOPLE QUEUING FOR STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM SIGN MAN EATING STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM WOMAN CLEANING RAILINGS SIGN FOR CENTRE COURT HAND SANITISTER SIGN SAYING 'PLEASE USE HAND SANITISER'
- Embargoed: 12th July 2021 14:15
- Keywords: Andy Murray Covid-19 Novak Djokovic Roger Federer SW19 Serena Williams Wimbledon grass courts tennis
- Location: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK
- City: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Europe,Sport,Tennis
- Reuters ID: LVA001EJBGEGV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Murky skies and drizzle could not dampen the enthusiasm of spectators arriving on Monday (June 28) for the start of the 134th Wimbledon Championships which were cancelled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
COVID-19 protocols mean this year's tournament will look and feel a little different -- but one old Wimbledon tradition remained firmly intact with rain delaying the scheduled 1000GMT start on the outside courts.
Fittingly for the eagerly-awaited return of the tournament, Andy Murray will resume his role as flag-bearer for the home nation with a prime time engagement later on Centre Court.
Whisper it quietly, but it almost feels like old times.
Not quite, though, as Wimbledon, being used as government-approved "pilot event", will be missing some old favourites.
The iconic "queue" for daily entry will not form, Henman Hill will be sparsely populated and fans will not have the thrill of bumping into famous players strolling to the grounds from plush rentals in the Village.
Players will all be staying in a central London hotel to minimise the risks of COVID-19 infections.
Crowds will be thinner too with attendances limited to 50% of ground capacity, although hopefully rising to full houses on Centre Court for the men's and women's finals on July 10-11.
But after last year's cancellation, the first since the Second World War, excitement is brewing for a fortnight of grasscourt drama, even if there are notable absentees.
Spaniard Rafa Nadal, whose 2008 final win over Roger Federer is part of Wimbledon folklore, is not playing. Neither is reigning women's champion Simona Halep nor Japan's four-times Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka.
(Production: Gerhard Mey, Oliver Regan)
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