WIMBLEDON, England -- The subject is locker rooms. At Wimbledon, as in England, class is more than a state of mind; it's a way of life.
Champions and seeded players in first class, top 50 in second, tour gypsies and junior wannabes in third. No exceptions allowed.
For more than a decade, PamShriver dressed in first class. She could take afternoon tea with Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, or look out a window to see the ever-changing summer weather.
But Shriver, ranked 34th in the world, is unseeded this year and relegated to second class. No tea. No windows. Just a place to change and wait before a match.
"I haven't gotten the hang of it yet," Shriver said. "I never felt demoted, but that's what it is. The first day I was a little sulky about it. It was kind of weird. If you've played here eight or 10 years, you stake out a corner. When I walked in with my stuff the first day, I looked aroundand thought, 'Where do I go?' I went to some far corner and plopped my stuff down and Liz Smylie came over and said, 'You can't have that.' I had taken her place."
Yesterday, Shriver emerged from locker room two and her hometown friend Andrea Leand arose from the dungeon known as locker room three. They walked to Court 4 and settled the women's championship of Brooklandville, Md., by the ivy covered outer wall of Centre Court.
Shriver needed seven match points but won, 6-0, 7-5, to advance to the second round at Wimbledon.
"It's funny," Shriver said. "You have a 128-player draw and you play someone you live a half-mile from. We lived on the same road. You could say we just staged a battle of Old Court Road."
Although they frequently practice together, Shriver and Leand met only once before in a tournament. Shriver won that 1982 match in straight sets en route to winning a tour event in Atlanta.
Leand once was a promising junior who broke off her career to attend Princeton. She is ranked No. 126 and plans to play a full schedule this summer. Grass is her weakest surface, and she was no match for Shriver.
"I had a good time against Pam," Leand said. "I would have preferred playing her on a nice, slow clay court, though. I keep trying to get her to go to the French Open, but Pam won't do it."
After serving miserably in the first set, Leand put up a fight in the second. She fought off five match points to break Shriver's serve lTC and even the set, 5-5. But she couldn't hold her serve and finally lost on the seventh match point, as Shriver snapped off a service winner.
"Realistically, Pam should win her next round, and that would probably set up a match against Mary Joe Fernandez," Leand said. "Mary Joe will be tough for Pam. She will have to serve better, though. That second serve will not cut it against Mary Joe."
Fernandez is seeded. Shriver isn't. Down in locker room two, they'll be rooting for Shriver to pull off an upset.
"It's so much friendlier in locker room two," Shriver said. "It's kind of funny. When Elna Reinach went into the third set with Martina [Navratilova], everyone in locker room two was cheering for Elna. Everyone is cheering for locker room two to pull off the upset."
Locker room one may be nice and comfy with a couch and coasters for drinks. But locker room two suits Shriver's style. It's warmer and messier.
"I'm a slob anyway," she said. "If you put your drink on a table, you don't need a coaster down there. You can just spill the drink."
Still, Shriver longs to be seeded and retake her place in locker room one, if only for a chance to redecorate the place. She peeked into the room before the tournament and was aghast.
"They changed it around," she said. "A lot of stripes. A lot of different kinds of fabrics. Remnants. It looks like they went to Loehmann's."
Even the upper class can get it for you wholesale.