ESPN is celebrating its 10th year of broadcasting Wimbledon in the United States so the star-studded team decided to share their favourite moments from the oldest tennis tournament in the world. Part Two includes a brilliant practical joke, one of tennis' most famous love matches, and a meeting with Princess Diana.
Darren Cahill – The Practical Joke
"My best Wimbledon memory comes from my first time there. I was 19, and my coach, the late Bob Carmichael, played a joke on me. He told me the only way a player was allowed through the gates was in a suit and tie. So that's how I showed up. With all the history and tradition of Wimbledon, it made sense to me. So I get there and enter and for 10 minutes I was looking all around at the grass, the buildings and everything. I was so mesmerized to finally be there, I was looking up, not down. Then I realised I was the only idiot in a suit and tie and Bob and others were laughing their heads off at me."
Chris Evert – Jimmy And Me
"I won Wimbledon three times, plus one more in doubles, but my favorite memory is the first one, 1974. It was not the most memorable match – 6-0, 6-4 over Olga Morozova. However, not only was it special to win my first title on Centre Court amidst all the history and tradition, but my fiancé won the men's singles title! Jimmy Connors defeated Ken Rosewall, and it was also his first Wimbledon Championship. We then paired in the Mixed Doubles at the US Open and fell in the final, and our partnership off the court ended soon thereafter. But we remain good friends and I remember 1974 very fondly."
Brad Gilbert – The First Time
"The first time I walked through the gates of Wimbledon at age 21 it was a surreal experience. The place is a cathedral, full of history that you've seen on TV so often. Your eyes get wide and you just go 'Whoa' as you take it all in the first time. But even now I think about that first time every year I go back and step on the grounds. I get the same feeling. Just being there is the best. It's like nowhere else."
Mary Joe Fernandez – Two Icons
"I have to mention two memories. My first Wimbledon, at age 14, I played my childhood hero, Chris Evert, in the first round. My parents said, 'Oh, you have a horrible draw!' but I was thrilled. But I was bummed we were on Court One. Martina Navratilova was the defending champ and playing at the same time, so she was on Centre Court. I was so excited, I had grown up watching her, and I held my own… for a little while.
"A few years later I was playing Steffi Graf and Princess Diana was in the Royal Box. I was mesmerised! I couldn't stop staring at her the whole match! Then she and Sarah Ferguson came into the locker room afterward. She was shy, but engaging. She made you feel like you knew her. She had a tremendous effect on people with her charisma and those eyes! We talked about tennis. She loved the game and even played. It was great."
Chris Fowler – Twice Lucky
"I have two very different memories to share. In 1985, I capped off a post-college European traverse with a visit to Wimbledon, and my buddy and I hoped to buy tickets outside the gates. We were naive. American-style scalpers were nowhere to be seen. All seemed lost, until a respectable-looking businessman approached. He reached out and handed us an envelope with tickets. We were suspicious. Free Centre Court tickets? What was the catch? 'You are Americans, right?' he asked. 'I owe my livelihood to your country. Here, take the tickets and enjoy the tennis.' We did. Immensely. Just sitting in Centre Court was magical, the scene of so much drama played out on my TV screen through the years. Then we ventured to the outer courts, where a young German kid was making noise in his main draw debut. Boris Becker was his name. He went on to win the title a week later. I think about that day whenever I walk through the Club's gates at the beginning of each Wimbledon fortnight.
"The other memory is sitting court side for the most dramatic event I have ever seen: Nadal and Federer's titanic struggle against each other and Mother Nature in the 2008 final. Before the fifth set, I had to literally drag my colleague Brad Gilbert and propel him back to Centre Court. He had predicted a Nadal win and was too 'gutted' to return after Rafa lost the fourth. Brad felt Nadal was sure to lose a five-set heartbreaker for the second straight year. But that was ridiculous. This was a final chapter I could not let him miss. I shoved him forward to our seats! Nadal, of course, eventually took the title as darkness descended. I remember a bittersweet feeling leaving the grounds that night, knowing I will never again witness that powerful a tennis match."