No member of big-three he had Grand Slams. In fact, they weren’t even born. Wimbledon grass had not yet met its king, a Roger Federer who has triumphed eight times at La Catedral. Nor Pete Samparas, who won the first of his seven trophies in 1993. William Renshaw, uninterrupted champion between 1881 and 1886, had the greatest dynasty ever seen in the major oldest of all. Although he was already far behind. Then, Bjorn Borg was about to start his term, with his five wins in a row (1976-1980); then, in the judge’s chair, Graham Liddle was already sitting, who will retire after the next edition of the great London.
One of those myths that, surely, are not especially remembered by the average fan, but that transcend between the corridors, the ins and outs, in the essence of a tournament. Half a century allows to leave a mark. And, also, impregnate yourself with the rest. Few know Wimbledon like Liddle, 72, who can boast of having dealt both with Ilie Nastase or John McEnroe and with Nick Kyrgios. He refereed his first match in London in 1972 and this weekend he will receive an award from the Lawn Tennis Association for his long services at the Grand Slam, which he combined with work as a local government official and as a bus driver. A life dedicated to the city and its tennis that, in an interview for the Daily Mail, is available to everyone. Of those who knew McEnroe and those who know Kyrgios.
“The problem was that there was no code of conduct in those days and you didn’t have the power to take drastic measures,” he explains, recalling his first years of giving order, which he describes as “the Wild West.” “You felt quite relieved when the games were over,” he admits as he recalls his adventures with Nastase himself or Jimmy Connnors. “The majority was for (Stan) Smith and against Nastase and his antics. He broke his racket on the grass, which would now be considered a serious offence. Really all you could do was try to stay calm.” from the 1986 semi-finals of the old John Player tournament (Nottingham). “Connors could also be difficult, but people loved watching them and he enjoyed them,” he adds.
Anecdotes and an indelible memory
Lindlle did not receive the famous “you cannot be serious” of McEnroe, who endured his partner Edward James, but he also suffered from the American genius, who kicked him out of a game in which he was not even refereeing. In that mythical 1981. “I was like court captain, to the side, but he saw me and asked the chair umpire what I was doing there. He couldn’t seem to get me out of his head and ended up asking me to leave. It was annoying, but there wasn’t much he could do,” she explains. From there to Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal, “true gentlemen”, or Nick Kyrgios, who hit him with a ball inadvertently. “He tried to return the ball to the ball boy, deflected it wrong and hit me in the forehead. She apologized and asked me if I was okay.” reveals. Anecdotes that, at their peak, have Andy Murray’s triumph in 2013: “Andy was incredibly focused that day. The audience was incredible, electric. I never thought he would live through that day and I will always remember him.” Like Wimbledon to Liddle.