Yesterday's rain brings today's flood of new fans

For 3rd time in 127 years, `People's Sunday' arrives



June 27, 2004|By Diane Pucin | Diane Pucin,LOS ANGELES TIMES

WIMBLEDON, England - The ones outside the gates of Wimbledon, the kids wrapped in blankets, the guys under a makeshift plastic tent, the four women in shorts and T-shirts that read "We love Henman," the family jogging up from the Southfields tube station who had headed out of their flat as soon as they got the news, these were the happy tennis fans.

For the third time in its 127-year history and the first time since 1997, there will be tennis played at the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club during the middle Sunday of Wimbledon.

But for the second time this week, an entire day of tennis was rained out yesterday. "Why don't they put a roof on this place," muttered Rod Masters, 47, who had traveled from Scotland. He and his wife had planned this trip for a year.

The roof is coming but not until 2009. Yesterday's paid ticket holders will get their money back. "But I don't want my money," Masters said. "I want to see tennis."

Meanwhile, 28,000 lucky fans, first come, first served, will be allowed into the gates at 9 this morning - and all for the bargain price of 35 pounds ($63.77). These impromptu Sundays - the first came in 1991 - have become known as "People's Sunday." The place is mostly reserved for the club's members and those able to afford scalper prices.

U.S. Olympic teams named

It was an Olympics kind of day at Wimbledon, too. The Olympic torch started an eight-mile trip through London on the club's grounds. Then coaches Zina Garrison and Patrick McEnroe named the U.S. team.

Garrison announced that sisters Serena and Venus Williams will play singles and doubles; Jennifer Capriati and Chanda Rubin will play singles, and Martina Navratilova, 47, and Lisa Raymond will play doubles.

Defending U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick, ranked No. 2 in the world, will be joined by No. 20-ranked Mardy Fish, No. 30 Vince Spadea and No. 31 Taylor Dent, along with the top-ranked doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan. Roddick and Fish will be the second doubles team.

World No. 5 Lindsay Davenport chose to skip the Olympics to give her sore left knee a break before the U.S. Open. Ninth-ranked Andre Agassi, the 1996 singles gold medalist, told McEnroe several months ago he did not want to participate.

How about play for $1M?

Former Wimbledon champion Jimmy Connors is pitching a proposal for a $1 million doubles match that would include him, John McEnroe and Pete Sampras.

The most intriguing twist: Connors, 51, said he and longtime rival McEnroe, 45, would be partners. Teaming with Sampras would be someone "from his generation or one guy from the younger generation that's playing today," Connors said.

McEnroe said he was interested, especially if the Sampras team is limited to one serve per point.

"Jimmy has proven that he has pretty much gone off the deep end by trying to put this match together," McEnroe said. "I'm already off the deep end by agreeing to consider doing it."

Connors said a hotel in Las Vegas is interested, and he hopes to schedule the match for March or April.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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