MANILA, Philippines - The smell of freshly-cut grass with just a hint of ozone threatening rain on the horizon. Dainty-bone china tinkling in the background. Cream swirls in bowls with 10 carats of strawberries. Wait, this isn’t the World Cup we’re talking about, is it? While the plebs and their rude vuvuzelas (translated: torotot) have descended upon Johannesburg, a decidedly quieter, more courteous set arrived at a quaint little village nicknamed SW19. Welcome to Wimbledon, home to the oldest, if not the most iconic tennis tournament in the world. And yes, Mr. van Schalkwyk, vuvuzelas are banned here, thank you very much.
Much of the Wimbledon aura lies in its snooty prestige: Besides enforcing all-white tennis attire on players and being as old as Lindsay Lohan’s face at 142 years old, give or take a few rehabs, European nobility frequents the tournament. Most recently, the Queen of England was in attendance and had Serena Williams all aflutter about the monarch watching her match. The women’s world number one player vowed in an interview that she would give Queen Elizabeth II a curtsy “she’ll definitely never forget,” a cute threat that scared tournament organizers into moving her match to the outside courts. Some Wimbledon headlines over the past two weeks were defending champion Federer’s shocking first round almost-upset, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut’s epic 11-hour-long match, and the two finals-worthy fourth-round clashes of Sharapova-Serena and Clijsters-Henin. But while worshippers gasped their “oohs” and “ahhs” as they watch their favorite tennis gods smoke lesser beings on grass, the courts were a-whir with shutterclicks during the first few matches of the Championships as photographers frantically raced to get the perfect shot of second-ranked Venus William smacking hard a backhand… in her Tina Turner-inspired shimmy dress from her own clothing line, EleVen.
Purists (read: dinosaurs) of the game have decried the recent conversion of tennis courts into catwalks. But Madison Keys, an American who turned professional at the age of 13, said she was inspired to pick up a racquet when she watched Venus wearing hair beads at Wimbledon. Clearly, fashion can save tennis from demise in an increasingly basketball and football-crazed world. Here’s a look at some of the stars and their sartorial servings for the season:
Filipinos in Wimbledon: Jeson Patrombon and Francis Casey Alcantara made it earlier this week into the juniors’ main draw. Other Filipinos who had qualified for the Wimbledon main draw: Felicisimo Ampon in 1953, Nilo Natividad in 1980.