As the clock ticked one minute past midday, eager tennis fans began flocking into the grounds of SW19 for the Centre Court Celebration and there was one name on everybody’s lips – Andre Agassi.
The effervescent American’s popularity transcended the generations among the crowd with teenagers and pensioners reeling off his name as the player they were most looking forward to watching today.
David and Pam Chettle travelled from Leicestershire for the special occasion. “I want to see Agassi – he’s just a really good player,” Pam said.
David added: “I’m interested to see the size difference between Steffi and Andre. I also want to see if Steffi is as beautiful as she looks.”
Andrew Warner and Lee Johnson, both 15, from Kent, described Agassi as a “legend”. Wimbledon first-timer Andrew was particularly impressed with the All England Club grounds. “I think it’s amazing and much bigger than it looks on TV,” he said.
Keen tennis player Ellie Marcangelo, nine, travelled with mum Kathy to the event. Kathy said: “Graf and Agassi are my generation. I thought it would be really good to show Ellie what Wimbledon is like. The showcase came up and I thought what a great opportunity to get into Centre Court.”
Gretta Pescod, who umpired at Wimbledon for 21 years, said she was delighted Agassi was playing. “I always remember when he came on court all dressed in white. He always conformed to the rules.” Her friend Gill Edwards, added: “He seems like a nice guy.”
Meanwhile, Peggy Howard and Jill Jeffreys from Chelmsford, Essex, described the roof as a “brilliant idea”. “When we left home it was pouring,” Peggy said. “But we hadn’t got to worry that it [the event] was going to be cancelled.”
Joe Stoker and friend Jonathan Flattery agreed: “It saves a lot of hassle especially today when it’s going to rain.”