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Celebrities getting the royal treatment

Mr David Beckham in the Royal Box on Day 6
by Helen Gilbert
Saturday 5 July 2014

Sir Richard Branson, Hugh Jackman, David Beckham and Shaquille O’Neal are well known for excelling in their respective fields but the entrepreneur, actor, former footballer and retired basketball player also share another passion... a love for tennis.

During Wimbledon the four were among a number of high-profile faces to grace the All England Club’s prestigious Royal Box to indulge in the delights of Centre Court. Below are just some of those who popped by.

Shaquille O’Neal 
Andy Murray opened proceedings on Centre Court as defending champion and was watched by former basketball pro O'Neal. I saw him after the match, just when I came off,” the British basketball fan said. “I never met him before. But he's a big boy, that's for sure. He was huge. He's very entertaining. I watch him on the TV a lot when I'm over in the States. He said that was the first time he'd been to the tennis before. He enjoyed it. It was nice.”

Sir Cliff Richard
It was 3 July 1996 when Sir Cliff entertained the Centre Court crowd during a long rain delay on men’s quarter-final day with a rendition of Summer Holiday. This time the singer was joined in the Royal B
ox by presenter Cilla Black and actor Colin Firth to watch the ladies’ semi-finals, although this time he didn't break into song. Comedian and actress Miranda Hart, who the day before had tweeted “I think I would be less nervous playing on Centre Court than watching this match from comfort of my sitting room. COME ON MURRAY!@wimbledon” also joined them.  

David Beckham 
The former Manchester United and Real Madrid footballer accompanied his mother Sandra on the middle Saturday and watched Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer. After her match, Sharapova revealed she had met the LA Galaxy star a couple of times, adding that she respected athletes in different sports. “I think we can all really relate to each other's profession, even though all the sports are quite different in terms of the training,” she said. “But at the end of the day the commitments and sacrifices in terms of being an athlete are similar. I always feel like I really understand and actually get star struck more when I'm around athletes that have done incredible things in their career rather than maybe musicians or other professions.”

Sir Richard Branson
The man responsible for building the Virgin empire is a well-known tennis fan, who in the past has made appearances at the WTA Pre-Wimbledon party at the Kensington Roof Gardens. The entrepreneur attended the tennis with daughter Holly on Monday 30 June, where he watched Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga compete on Centre Court.

Bruce Forsyth
The television presenter paid the Royal Box a visit on 24 June, the day last year’s ladies’ singles runner-up Sabine Lisicki opened proceedings in the absence of retired reigning champion Marion Bartoli. Forsyth, whose career has spanned 70 years, wasn’t the only TV personality to make an appearance. Tess Daly and Vernon Kay also joined him, as did silver screen star Hugh Jackman. Serena Williams and the No.2 seed Rafael Nadal were among the former champions they watched.

Katherine Jenkins 
The Welsh mezzo-soprano attended with her fiancé Andrew Levitas on a day that was quickly renamed ‘Tumultuous Tuesday’ after Maria Sharapova lost to Angelique Kerber and No.2 seed Rafael Nadal crashed out to Australian wild card Nick Kyrgios.

Martina Navratilova
The retired Czech and American tennis player, who amassed 18 Grand Slam singles titles during her career, was among a number of Wimbledon champions to watch Petra Kvitova demolish Eugenie Bouchard in the ladies' finals and lift the Venus Rosewater dish for the second time in her career. Alogside her were Marion Bartoli, Conchita Martinez, Jana Novotna and Virginia Wade. Golfer Jack Nicklaus, 2004 double Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes and footballer Frank Lampard were also present.

Follow the latest news and scores from Wimbledon 2014 on Wimbledon.com or download the official iPhone, Android and iPad apps.


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