Friday 28 February 2014
As World Tennis Day approaches, Wimbledon.com looks at the origins of the day, and what will be going on where around the world...
If there's an International Pipe Smoking Day, a World Vegan Day and the World Day of the Snowman, it would be remiss if this sport didn't have its World Tennis Day. And you can be sure that those who glorify tobacco, vegetables and frozen water won't have as much impact as those who will be celebrating tennis in London, New York, Hong Kong and across the world.
Next week will see the second annual World Tennis Day, and the first time a 'showdown' event has been staged in London. Globally, there will be three rematches of Wimbledon finals being played out on Monday 3rd March, one of which will involve the current Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, and another his coach Ivan Lendl. Doubtless Murray's match will evoke happier memories for him than Lendl's will; Murray will be at New York City's Madison Square Garden to play Novak Djokovic, the opponent he defeated in the final of last summer's Championships when he became the first British man for 77 years to win the singles title at the All England Club. This will also be an opportunity for Murray, who has heard plenty of stories from Lendl about Madison Square Garden, to see the place where his coach won all those titles at the season-ending tournament. As Murray has noted: "There is so much history attached to the venue."
Lendl, meanwhile, will be an ocean away at London's Earls Court to reprise the 1987 Wimbledon final against Pat Cash. Except he won't want to be reprising the result, with that defeat against Cash the second and final time he was beaten in a title-match on Centre Court, the other occasion being against Boris Becker in 1986. The third of the Wimbledon final showdowns will see Pete Sampras play Andre Agassi at Earls Court - many contend that the match that Sampras played to beat Agassi for the 1999 title was the finest performance of his life, on English lawns or anywhere else in tennis.
New Yorkers will also see a meeting of two doubles teams of brothers, with John and Patrick McEnroe to play Bob and Mike Bryan, while a third 'showdown' event in Hong Kong will have the new Australian Open women's champion Li Na play Sam Stosur, a former US Open champion, and a men's match between former Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt and former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych.
But the World Tennis Day - which was launched by the International Tennis Federation and StarGames - is about more than 'showdowns' and reminiscing about Wimbledons past; it was created to "promote the sport of tennis and to increase tennis participation among young players around the globe". And so there will be grassroots initiatives around the world.
As Francesco Ricci Bitti, the ITF's president, said: "World Tennis Day proved to be a very successful initiative [in 2013], using high-profile special events to bring attention to the developmental activities of our member nations on every continent. The enthusiasm and commitment of our National Associations to World Tennis Day in its first year was inspiring and we expect an even greater take-up in 2014 and beyond. March 3rd will be an important day in the international tennis calendar with huge focus on our sport on World Tennis Day."
The All England Club and Wimbledon Junior Tennis Initiative will be celebrating World Tennis Day on 3rd March. Follow us @Wimbledon and @TheWJTI to keep track of what's going on where.
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