April 18, 2016
No one is going to deny that Wimbledon’s Centre Court is unbeatable for history, tradition and glamour. But if it’s dramatic on-court tension you’re after, scintillating tennis played in a super-cool atmosphere created by true tennis-lovers, then Court One is often the place to be.
Take a look at Wimbledon 2015 and you’ll see what we mean.
Men’s quarter-finals day saw many of the most memorable moments played out on No1. Hollywood’s Bradley Cooper added a touch of glamour to prove that the biggest stars aren’t just drawn to Centre Court. And how richly rewarded he and the other enthusiastic fans in the 11,000-plus crowd on No1 were. The impeccable Roger Federer shone first to defeat Gilles Simon in straight sets. Then came one of the best matches Wimbledon and Court One have ever seen.
French Open champion Stan Wawrinka was expected to defeat Richard Gasquet but was edged out in a classic final set as the Frenchman finally triumphed 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 11-9.
It was incredible entertainment and remarkably this wasn’t the first time at Wimbledon 2015 that Court One had been treated to some of the most dramatic tennis scenes in championships history.
In the previous round, heavy tournament favourite Novak Djokovic was two sets behind and looked down and out after losing the first two breakers 6-8. Back stormed the feisty Serb to win the next two sets 6-1, 6-4.
The fifth and final set couldn’t be played that night because it was 9 pm and almost dark. So back came the two gladiators the following day to battle it out in the decider, won 7-5 by Djokovic after more nervous moments.
It’s true that Court One is currently still at the mercy of the weather and light, although they disrupt matches more rarely than you might think – and often add to the drama when they do.
The next three summers will be the last during which the elements can play a significant part, because a retractable roof is due to be added to Court One by 2019.
But in 2015 no fewer than sixteen matches involving a top-five seeded player were played on Court One and everyone certainly got their money’s worth. The moment when Serena Williams went a break down to Margarita Gasparyan in the very first round, before recovering to win 6-4, 6-1 was yet another interesting one.
The atmosphere on No1 is generally more relaxed, the focus is on the tennis rather than any of the pomp and ceremony you might find on Centre Court.
You can still happily meet up with pals who have Centre Court tickets in The Renshaw Restaurant, which plays host to debenture holders from both courts. Court One debenture holders can also enjoy the open-air splendour of The Veranda restaurant and The No1 bar, with views across the grounds to die for.
Plenty of other wonderful matches on the modern-day Court One, which was opened in 1997, still stick in the memory. In 2008, for example, No1 suddenly filled to the rafters as a 14-year-old, unseeded Laura Robson became the first British junior Wimbledon Champion in 24 years by defeating Noppawan Lertcheewakarn 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. The spontaneity and charm of the reception she was given felt unique.
The following year Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Roddick thrilled Court One with three hours and fifty-one minutes of breath taking sporting combat. Eventually Roddick emerged exhausted and triumphant, though both men received a standing ovation at the end of their marathon 6-3, 6-7, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4 slugfest.
The sheer surprise among those who witnessed Rafael Nadal’s 2013 first-round exit to Steve Darcis by 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (10-8), 6-4 won’t easily be forgotten.
And that’s just the thing. If you don’t have Court One tickets as well as those precious Centre Court tickets, you might just find that your hero has packed his bags for home before you even get the chance to see him.
If you can buy tickets for both stadiums it gives you wonderful flexibility and the fullest sense of what Wimbledon has to offer.
Centre Court may be Queen of Glamour and History. But Court One is King of Cool.
You’ll have your own personal favourites. But here are ours…
TOP THREE COURT ONE MOMENTS
1/ Roddick beats Hewitt in five-set epic – 2009
2/ Gasquet defeats Wawrinka in final-set marathon – 2015
3/ Laura Robson wins Junior Wimbledon in packed arena – 2008