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Wimbledon Top 10: Royal moments

Kate Middleton and Prince William watch the quarter-final match between Roger Federer and Mikhail Youzhny on Centre Court.
by Mark Hodgkinson
Saturday 6 July 2013

Royal support has been a continued feature of The Championships. Wimbledon.com shares some of the best moments. 

1. Suzanne Lenglen kept Queen Mary waiting in the Royal Box. The Wimbledon crowds didn't mind the Frenchwoman sipping brandy at the change of ends. They didn't even care when she wept on court. Or when – and these were conservative times – she flashed some ankle. But what the British public didn't like was when Lenglen, because of a misunderstanding over the schedule, kept Queen Mary waiting for a match to start. Lenglen was so upset by the controversy at the 1926 Championships that she never played the tournament again. 

2. King George VI competed in the doubles tournament. This was before he became king – he was just a humble prince back then – and he and his partner lost in the first round in 1926. 

3. Roger Federer joked that Queen Elizabeth II gave him some advice when they met for lunch at the All England Club in 2010, on what was the monarch's first visit for 33 years. "She said I should hit more backhands down the line," Federer said after a lunch, which was attended by a number of other players, though he quickly explained he wasn't being serious. 

4. After defeating Roger Federer in the 2008 final to win his first Wimbledon title, Rafael Nadal celebrated with Spain's Crown Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia. After embracing his team, friends and family in his guests-box, he climbed across the roofs of the television commentary boxes to reach the Royal Box and to thank the Prince and Princess for their support. 

5. Jana Novotna wept on the Duchess of Kent's shoulder. Novotna couldn't convert the point which would have given her a 5-1 lead in the third set of the 1993 final, and went on to lose to Steffi Graf. She broke down during the prize-giving ceremony and had to be consoled by the Duchess. When Novotna lost a second Wimbledon final, in 1997, the Duchess of Kent told her: "The third time will be third time lucky." The next summer, Novotna defeated France's Nathalie Tauziat to win her first Wimbledon title and the Duchess had a quiet word in her ear: "I was right." 

6. The All England Club announced this year that the Duchess of Cambridge had accepted an offer for honorary membership. A spokesman for The Palace said that the Duchess, who has become a regular in the Royal Box, was "pleased to accept the kind offer, especially given her interest in tennis". 

7. Andy Murray played in front of the Queen. The ladies-in-waiting would have been almost as happy as Murray was that he won his second-round match of the 2010 Championships in straight sets. Had Murray not won in straight sets against Finland's Jarkko Nieminen, the Queen, who was on her first visit for 33 years, might not have lasted the whole match in the front row of the Royal Box. But everything passed off as well as could have been hoped for. Murray wasn't entirely happy with his bow, though, and watching the slow-motion replays confirmed his initial thoughts that he had been a little nervous and awkward. 

8. Virginia Wade won Wimbledon in front of the Queen during the monarch's Silver Jubilee year. "As soon as I heard that it was the centenary for Wimbledon, and as soon as I heard that the Queen was going to be there, well, I thought, 'I'm going to be there too'," Wade has recalled of her triumph at the 1977 Championships. "I was so sure that I was going to be there. I thought I'd go through the tournament and reach the final and win it. It was a big occasion, but having the Queen there didn't make me any more nervous." 

9. The Duke of Kent requested in 2003 that it was time to end the tradition of players bowing or curtseying to members of the royal family as they entered and left the court. "There has been informal dialogue on this matter over a number of years with the Duke of Kent. It is really his preference," Tim Phillips, the then chairman of the All England Club, said at the time. "It has been a voluntary practice, although the players are all very agreeable. The Duke feels the time is right to stop, given that the tradition of bowing and curtseying is on the way out, and we respect his view on that." 

10. Roger Federer, who met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during last year's Championships, has said it can be inspiring playing in front of royals. "When there are royals, I think it's inspiring, believe it or not. It's great for the event. It's great for the Club. It's great for the players. It's just nice to see that the Royal Box is always full, as well. And if there are ever a few empty seats, you know they will come back shortly. They're not here just to drink champagne and tea in the back. They really do come for the tennis. I feel that. That's probably one of the reasons I play well on Centre Court. I had a bit of a chat with Kate and William. They were very nice, very friendly. I was very happy to meet them.” 


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