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Monday, June 20, 2011

A bright start: Sun shines as thousands descend on Wimbledon despite forecasters predicting a washout...


Enjoying the sunshine? There was no sign of the predicted rain as fans queued outside Wimbledon for tickets on Monday

It was the first surprise result of Wimbledon fortnight - and a welcome one for the fans.

Crowds who had turned up prepared for the rain that had been forecast in fact spent the morning queuing in bright sunshine.

The outlook for the start of the 125th All England Championships has been grim, with predictions of more downpours after heavy rain soaked London at the weekend.

Instead, it was shirtsleeves and sunhats among fans who appeared to be enjoying the return of the sunshine as they queued in Wimbledon Park to get in on the first day.

And those who were lucky enough to get onto the show courts were treated to an interesting display from Venus Williams - in the form of a strange white playsuit.

The sun shines on the hardy souls who queued this morning for a chance to see Andy Murray in action

Venus Williams chose a bizarre white playsuit for her match against Uzbekistan's Akgul Amanmuradova

And hopes of a British victory remained high as Andy Murray prepares to takes to Centre Court against Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver - though if the weather turns he may have to play with Centre Court's £100million roof closed.

Those not lucky enough to get in to watch the number four seed will have to be content with watching the action from outside on 'Murray Mountain' - formerly known as 'Henman Hill' - the area outside the club where spectators can watch the game on giant screens.

Crowd control: Security staff form a barrier for the spectators before the rush to the outside courts

IT specialist Sam Bennett, 25, from Bristol, said: 'We got here about 6am and we got in the queue straight away.

'People try to run past you on the way to it, there's some friendly competition, but we just strolled down, it's all very relaxed.

'Inevitably we're hoping for a Murray victory and that he can go all the way.'

She was joined by her friend, Lizzie Laessing, 26, also from Bristol, who said: 'We're optimistic for Andy - he's looking smooth on court at the moment and he has had a recent turnaround in form.'

Rafael Nadal opened the defence of his title against Michael Russell of the U.S, while Andy Murray prepared to face Spain's Daniel Gimeno-Traver on Centre Court today

Among those queuing in the hope of getting a ticket were South African holidaymakers Debra Purvis and Maureen Klemp. Mrs Purvis was not backing Murray.

'I can't stand the man,' she said. 'He is rude and arrogant and he needs to be a gentleman and a scholar first. I'll be backing Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.'

If rain does stop play, it is likely to mean extra frustration for players whose games are a washout, plus a drenching for 40,000 daily fans. It would also herald the first full-scale use of Centre Court’s much vaunted sliding roof.

Terry Wogan greets England's World Cup winning rugby coach Clive Woodward on Centre Court

Showers are also forecast for tomorrow and Wednesday, followed by brighter spells on Thursday and Friday before unsettled weather returns at the weekend.

The recent wet weather has created more work for groundstaff at the world-famous All England Tennis Club in south London.

The team have been rolling the courts more than usual to make sure they stay firm and for the last week they have also been covered overnight.

Fears of rain are in stark contrast to last year, when not a single drop fell on the corner of SW19 throughout the two-week tournament.

The summer has so far been a major disappointment after the UK enjoyed its warmest spring for 350 years.

Between March and the end of May, Britain as a whole was at its hottest and driest since records began in 1910. There had been predictions of similar sizzling temperatures for June and July.

Standing room only: Those spectators who had not got up early enough to secure show court tickets were still able to enjoy plenty of tennis

But now events such as Glastonbury next week are bracing for downpours.

Fans face further disruption from strike action on London Underground – raising the grim possibility that they will struggle through travel chaos, only to find no play at the tournament.

One player not put off by yesterday’s showers was defending ladies champion Serena Williams.

Loitering within tent: Hardy Wimbledon fans queue for tickets to the first day's play - weather permitting

The 29-year-old was spotted – or perhaps striped – practising in a pair of shorts that had fashion experts struggling for adjectives.

They appeared to have a tie-dye pattern popular in the late 1960s, and did nothing but enhance Miss Williams’s legendary curves.

But they failed to detract from her ferocious backhand as she tries to end a year of injury woes and health scares with her fifth Wimbledon title.

Flying the flag: Fans who camped out overnight for tickets made it clear who they would be rooting for once the action began today

source: dailymail


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