November 30, 2018
Who will come to Wimbledon 2019? Celebrities, Royals, Sporting Heroes?
The simple answer is: just about everybody who is anybody in showbiz!
How do we know? Well, let’s just reflect upon the celebrity list from Wimbledon 2018.
And as you drool over the sheer glamour of it all, there is one inescapable conclusion.
Wimbledon is not only one of the most historic sporting events on earth. It is also the coolest.
Just this year alone, the Championships attracted royalty and some of the biggest stars from the movie and music worlds.
Of course, 2018 was very much the year of the new British royal, America’s own Meghan Markle.
The ex-actress is now known as the Duchess of Sussex after marrying Prince Harry at Windsor Castle.
She was accompanied onto Centre Court by the Duchess of Cambridge, formerly known as Kate Middleton.
Kate has always adored tennis and still plays when she can find the time. It is hard to imagine that ever changing, even though, as Prince William’s wife, she will one day be Queen.
Hollywood’s finest British actors were there in 2018.
Damian Lewis, who made his name in Band of Brothers and Homeland, has been to Wimbledon several times. He attended once more in 2018.
Lewis recently hit his own tennis shots against Maria Sharapova in the smash TV series Billions – and is known to be a pretty useful all-round sportsman.
Like Damian, movie star Eddie Redmayne also turned up at Wimbledon 2018.
Both actors went to Eton College, a top public school with a very strong sporting tradition.
However, Eddie is slightly less blessed than Damian when it comes to tennis talent. At least that is the impression he gave during his 2013 charity match appearance alongside Tim Henman at the nearby Queen’s Club.
It didn’t matter. And well done Eddie for taking part! As we all know, you don’t have to be particularly good at a sport to love it.
Also at Wimbledon 2018 was Benedict Cumberbatch, from the rival English public school, Harrow.
Seeing them sitting together, it was easy to imagine how tennis got into their blood as youngsters. Summer games in idyllic surroundings, tennis always a relaxing temptation.
Table-tennis seems to be just as attractive to Cumberbatch, though, judging by his hilarious match against Roger Federer.
It culminated in the theft of one of Federer’s Laureus Sports Awards! All for comic effect, of course.
And when Andy Murray won Wimbledon in 2016, Cumberbatch told him: ‘That was so inspiring.’
Murray had already declared himself a ‘massive fan’ and pumped his fist when he heard Benedict was filming more “Sherlock” episodes.
Yes, the celebrities and tennis stars seem to rub along pretty well. Wimbledon is very much a home from home for both.
Hollywood actress Kate Winslet is a regular at Wimbledon and is always very charming and down to earth when you meet her.
So is Dame Maggie Smith, the Harry Potter star, who once memorably told me that Andy Murray needed “more animal in him” to win Wimbledon. Perhaps he took that on board because he went on to win it twice!
Emma Watson was also at Wimbledon 2018, but then again who wasn’t? Hugh Grant was seen there, as he so often is.
Woody Harelson was the latest representative of Hollywood royalty. In past years, Dustin Hoffman has enjoyed the All England Club.
‘Have I ever played tennis in a movie? Don’t know. Don’t think so,’ Hoffman mused, though he seemed to feel like he should have done, even if he hadn’t.
When actress Christine Taylor married husband Ben Stiller in 2000, she was determined to make the comedic actor love tennis just as much as she does. “I begged him to take me to Wimbledon for my birthday a few years ago and we did go. And this past US Open, he was screaming at the finals harder than me!” she recently said.
Jack Nicholson has been to Wimbledon. ‘My neighbour back home is Martina Navratilova’ he pointed out at the time. ‘I’ve come to see her. But I also love it here because I love English women, they seem so shy at first, and then…’
In 2018, Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer added to the glamour of Wimbledon in no small measure. So did Amber Heard and Joe Alwyn.
From the world of music.
Dame Shirley Bassey and Sir Cliff Richard were there. Sir Cliff has always loved to play tennis to keep fit and probably still does.
But the American music scene was also superbly represented by the ever-cool Justine Timberlake.
Canadian rapper Drake added further edge, as did our own Stormzy. Ellie Goulding was another innovative musical presence and the list seems never-ending.
When you mention Declan Donelly, one of the most successful British TV presenters of all time, almost as an afterthought, then you know how spoilt for celebrities we are at Wimbledon each year.
And we haven’t even talked about the sports stars who turned up in 2018, such as Lewis Hamilton, the F1 hero.
The actor Clive Owen once told me at Wimbledon: ‘We play heroes on screen to earn our living. But these tennis players on Centre Court are heroes for real. They have to hold their nerve and do it under so much pressure. This is real drama.’
And Kylie Minogue was equally enthusiastic one year when she told me: ‘The sheer physicality of these tennis stars in the way they play the game is very exciting and that’s what puts bums on seats.’
So there we are. The stars of film and music, and even the royals love tennis just as much as we do.
Each year, we are all there together, ordinary fans and celebrities alike, all loving the drama and excitement of the tennis.
Wimbledon 2019 is just around the corner and many of the biggest celebrities in the world will be booking a day out of their busy schedules in order to attend.
So that means Wimbledon won’t just be about the tennis, much as we look forward to the pulsating action on court.
Wimbledon will be the number one place to be seen. There is nothing cooler.
Quite simply, it is the most glamorous sporting event on earth.
By Mark Ryan for WDH.