That’s no sound stage. Behind that HSBC classic? A grass tennis court — in Manhattan. (TSF photos)
HSBC‘s “Wimbledon 2011 at Rockefeller Plaza” bestowed Manhattan with its only grass tennis court — even if it was just for one week. The yearly event has run this entire week while Wimbledon itself rocks out across the pond, the real-grass playing court sitting nicely between 50th and 51st making the city that hosts the down-and-dirty U.S. Open feel a little dignified for a few days.
On Monday, TSF took the trip down to Rock to check out the set-up, which only begins at the grass court. The Wimbledon experience is in full-force, with a big screen set up to watch the week one action, Prince stringers available to re-tune your racquets, Wii tennis to play and strawberries and cream (but no Pimm’s!) served up by period-dressed Wimbledon fashion folks (see pictures below) to round out the SW19 feel.
While the court will disembark as of Friday, Monday saw Monica Seles and Jim Courier kick off the event with a little hit and giggle together and with ogling fans. Before the two hit the court, TSF (full disclosure: I was there covering the event for TSF and TennisWire.org) caught up with Courier and Seles both.
TSF: The Davis Cup tie against Spain on July 8-10 in Austin is huge for you guys. Tell us what about that.
Jim Courier: I’m not going to Wimbledon but I went to the Queen’s Club tournament for three days and I got to see the guys play on the grass there. I’m disappointed that Sam Querrey has an elbow injury that he had to have surgically repaired and he won’t be an option for us. We have five good options, though. We have Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish, John Isner and Bob and Mike Bryan. We’ll have four of those five players on the court ready to do battle with the Spaniards.
TSF: Do you guys hope to have a big, raucous crowd there?
JC: Tickets sold out in about two and a half hours … 15,000 seats for three nights. 45,000 tickets! We’ll play on a fast indoor court that will meets ITF specifications and it’s going to be high energy and high passion.
JC: This is probably the only time that Roddick is going to get to play a real Davis Cup match at home.
TSF: You’re a New York City resident. How do you enjoy the summer here?
JC: I love Central Park. I love getting there when I can. It’s sort of a magical place among the concrete jungle that we live in. I have a car in the city so I’m able to get out into the suburbs and see some different things, play some golf and go to the beach.
TSF: What about tennis? Where do you play?
TSF: What big plans have you made for your one-year wedding anniversary? [Courier married former tennis player Susanna Lingman in August, 2010.]
TSF: You’ll leave the plans to her then?
TSF: OK, I have to ask: who are your picks for Wimbledon?
TSF: And for the ladies? That’s a little more difficult to pick.
Check out more shots of “Wimbledon at Rockefeller Plaza” after the jump.
These two, dressed in 1920s Wimbledon wear, were handing out free strawberries and cream — and giving their best Charleston dance moves.
Why are big screens always so cool? 51st street behind it.