News The incalculable value of a world that is ending...

The incalculable value of a world that is ending | sports


Djokovic, with the trophy that credits him as Wimbledon champion. On video, Djokovic after winning the championship. GETTY

Wimbledon closed with the brilliant final played by Djokovic and Federer, a classic in the most classic of the tournaments, the only one of the Grand Slam that is played on grass, a circumstance that should penalize him, but from which he takes advantage of an effective exercise that It combines commercial astuteness and a distinctive story in a homogeneous universe, without edges. Wimbledon is the delicacy of tradition in the era of large stores. He knows how to sell to the general public a product destined for minorities, if that is what is involved in playing on a terrain that has almost disappeared in tennis.

It was not always like that. Until 1974, three of the four main tournaments of the circuit -Open of the United States, Australian Open and Wimbledon- were played on the grass. Only Roland Garros escaped the norm, although it advanced the future. The tennis would be played on cement courts or on clay, not on an expensive surface, difficult to care for, irregular with the passage of the matches, nothing favorable to the deployment of skills, so propitiated by television since its global disembarkation in the years 70

The Open USA was held in Forest Hills, a private club in the New York borough of Queens, presided over by a Tudor-style social house that gave it such a haughty air as Wimbledon. In 1974 the last final was played – the Argentine Guillermo Vilas defeated the American Jimmy Connors – and no one complained. The tournament was trapped by debts and by the threat of new times. In 1975 he moved to Flushing Meadows, a less glamorous, larger, more profitable and less tricky scenario. Cement is easier to care for than grass.
The Swedish Stefan Edberg won the Australian Pat Cash in the final of the Australian Open in 1987, the last edition played on the grass. A year later he began his new career, on the hard track of Melbourne Park. Roland Garros kept the clay dust, without the slightest debate about its future. Tennis, dominated for decades by Australians and Americans, with the exceptions of rigor, had taken a new direction: towards a showy globality. Even the Iron Curtain was permeable to its charm. The Romanian Ilia Nastase and the Czechs Ivan Lendl and Martina Navratilova reached the stardom.

A complicated future for Wimbledon was anticipated. The grass had disappeared from two Grand Slam tournaments, the television show demanded more than serves and volleys, the money was turned over with tennis and the players were trained in other kinds of surfaces. However, the poor prognosis has not been met. In its lonely condition, Wimbledon has emerged with more power than ever. It has made its uniqueness its main attraction and its great commercial value.
Wimbledon has always had pretensions to greatness, fulfilled for more than a century, but its current position is insular, with hardly any company – the few tournaments that are played on grass are preparations for the London date – radically contrary to the current that reigns in tennis. Its grace lies in the value and prestige of what is different in a time without reliefs.

Tradition does not suffice, nor particularity, to survive, much less to be strengthened in the world of sport. The managers of Wimbledon have sold the differential factor with an unparalleled mastery, without falling into nostalgic paralysis. Several fields have been rebuilt, retractable roofs have been installed on the two main tracks and all the facilities invite a mixture of modernity and respect for history, with an unequivocal message: in a world that is ending, Wimbledon has more strength than ever .

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