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Drop shots

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 23, 2002

WANT BLOOD, TOO?: The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, which hosts Wimbledon, was founded in 1868. There are 375 full members and about 100 temporary members.

Interested in joining?

To become a candidate for membership, applicants need to know four full members willing to support an application and write letters of recommendation. Two sponsoring members must be able to certify they have known the applicant for at least three years. Then, the four members must sign the proposal form.

After these formalities, an applicant's name is added to the Candidates List.

Members have access to the grass courts (except Centre Court and other show courts used only for the championship) from May-September.

THAT'S A LOT OF EMPTY CANS: About 15,000 balls are used during Wimbledon. After use, many balls are sold to clubs and patrons of the championship. Proceeds are donated to British schools.

IF YOU CAN'T GET A TICKET: Guided tours are available from March-September, except, of course, during the championship. The tour includes access to areas unavailable to tournament ticket-holders, including the International Box at Centre Court, the media interview room, museum and water gardens, which provide a view over central London. The tours costs about $19.

HAS HE EVER BEEN TO A BASEBALL GAME?: Spencer Gore, after winning the first men's singles final in 1877, told the media, "Lawn tennis is a bit boring. It will never catch on."

PLAN B WAS A GIANT UMBRELLA: Wimbledon has 128 court coverers. When it rains (and it does often), the event's 18 courts can be covered in five minutes.

THEY DIDN'T HAVE THAT IN 1877: Among the many features at www.wimbledon.com is an interactive section that includes a live scoreboard, a virtual tour of the grounds, radio and television Web casts and a slam cam. During the event, five cameras will be placed in various spots at the club to give those on the Web an opportunity to get a feel for the championship.

SHE'S NOT THAT OLD AFTER ALL: Martina Navratilova, 46, will compete in the doubles draw with Natasha Zvereva. She owns nine singles and seven doubles titles. Navratilova, singles champion from 1982-87, was seeded a record 20 times between 1975-94.

She first competed at Wimbledon in 1973.

Jean Borota of France is the championship's oldest competitor. He played doubles in 1964 at the age of 65.

ODDS AND ENDS: Above the players entrance to Centre Court are the words "If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same," an excerpt from If by famed poet Rudyard Kipling. ... Britain's Tim Henman was the first player disqualified from the championship. He was booted in 1995 (and fined $2,000) after smacking a ball into a ball girl during a first-round match. ... Yellow balls replaced the traditional white in 1986.

-- Compiled by Keith Niebuhr.

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