The two most significant Grand Slams in tennis, Wimbledon and the US Open, are ones that every tennis player wants to win. The commercial impact of both events can shoot a person straight into the fast life of sponsorship deals and advertising campaigns. However during the events itself the two tournaments could not be more different.
Today Wimbledon is known as "The Player's Championship", and its associates try to keep it intact with the old traditions of the game. On court players have to wear white, logos have to be of a certain size, and women's skirts have to be of a "low-cut". Clearly officials behind the event are trying to live in the past, trying to keep tennis the main focus. However the bitter truth of reality is that tennis is evolving just as fast as the technology connected with it is. Consequently Wimbledon has become a unique event, where the prize money is still imbalanced and line calls can not be challenged. The grass courts seem to illustrate the sport historically was one for the rich, and now seeming for just the middle class. Today tickets are being sold on auction websites for $ 300 plus, and prices are now becoming extortion. Although this many of the crowds are still attracted to the other joys of Wimbledon which make it so different to the US Open.
As Roger Federer walks onto Center Court for the fourth time in a Men's Singles Final against Rafael Nadal, he comes into a very friendly atmosphere at SW19. At the moment Center Court has a capacity of 13800 and No.1 Court 11000. The evolution of tennis from the late 19th century has come along way, but Wimbledon seems to be staying in the past. Only after this year's championship will work begin on a retractable roof and an extra 1200 seats. The profits of Wimbledon are not justified at all with such petite stadiums. The various attractions of Wimbledon that gather spectators include Henman Hill, the Wimbledon history museum and the Fred Perry monument. These attractions all have something in common: they're free. Money being generated in the grounds normally comes from food and drink sales, and from the Wimbledon shop. After being over-priced ($ 2 for a bottle of water), there are too few things in the grounds for spectators to do and are willing to pay for. Over the years, generating money has become a problem at Wimbledon and the location and corporate side of the event clearly shows why.
As Center Court and No.1 Court are becoming old relics, neither is there a floodlight system nor a roof are attached. The average day at Wimbledon could range from 30 minutes to 6 hours. The main contributions to this are rain and light. Typically every year at Wimbledon there is always some severe rain delay effecting a very brutal match (remember Henman vs. Ivansevic 2001 semi-final?). Even light has become another major factor over the years. It is no wonder with today's big servers (Andy Roddick, Ivan Ljubucic) that opponents are complaining that they can not see the ball well at the end of the day. The losers of this – event sponsors. Money has to be reimbursed and businesses lose money in a seemingly good investment. The tickets sold at Wimbledon are for a whole day for one main court. This means that again less people are going to be able to get tickets through the public ballad, and as there are fewer tickets, they are going to be more expensive. The commercialization of the game has appeared not to be rubbing off on Wimbledon, and as a consequence everyone has been affected. On the whole Wimbledon is lagging.
As well as the effects on the business aspect of the tournament, the more insignificant factors have accumulated over the years. Around all 19 courts at Wimbledon, you will notice only the main courts have an electronic scoreboard; that is to say all three of them. This undermines why Wimbledon is based on a willing work force rather than the technology, which is capable of doing so much more. In addition, the television scheduling of the event itself, is still rather dyer. This is because any British success hope goes out either by round two or by the quarterfinals. The viewers do not want to see Radek Stepanek and Jonas Bjorkman fight it out for a place in the semi-final. What they want to see is genuine hope Andy Murray get to the final, but this just is not going to happen: yet. Moreover, permanently near all wildcards being given too a Briton in the singles draws, no one in the doubles or junior events are progressing to the latter part of the second week. These essential facts are being looked over by its audience more often or not each year the event comes around. The US Open on the other hand is well enough equipped and well established too handle all these varying issues.
The growing comparisons being made by journalists between the US Open and Wimbledon are becoming so frequent today that everything is being analyzed. Today, prize money is equal, Hawkeye is being used on show courts and even music is being played between games. What does this tell us? That America is more concerned over the amount of sponsorship deals it gets, and the US Open is more accredited to the global corporations around the world. Tiffany Incorporated and Ribbon Of Pink seem to have already jumped the bandwagon into a seemingly alien market of tennis but truthfully this is happening with other sports as well. For instance, Budweiser and BMW already have sponsorship deals with the US Tour (golf) increasing the sport's profit and commercial success. Moreover there are other vast inputs of money during the tournament itself. Unlike Wimbledon, tickets are sold each day for either a day session or a night session. There is no public ballad but instead Ticketmaster is used for selling the general majority of tickets. The full capacity stadiums help attract larger numbers than Center and No.1 Courts. This adds to the various ground passes and executive boxes which just so happened not to be available at Wimbledon.
The other more significant issue surrounding the US Open is the hype. Andy Roddick, James Blake, Lindsay Davenport, Serena Williams all have genuine chances of winning a grand slam compared to the one shining star of British sport at the moment – Andy Murray. Consequently, more prime time television slots are being allocated to the coverage of the US Open as viewers expect there are favorites to win or at least to progress. Despite this wide television exposure, the American grand slam still is able to produce attendances of 25000 everyday of the two week event. The blue hard courts make for longer rallies than on the green grass at Wimbledon, and the clothing is far less restricted making the game more attractive for the viewers. Linesmen instead of wearing a near formal suit made by Fred Perry, wear a uniform that is actually fitted for a tennis court. Ball girls and ball boys are not chosen from the local school, but instead are handpicked from various trials in the nearby community. Certainly there is more atmosphere surrounding the US Open, spectators are pretty much guaranteed to see an American on a show court everyday. This added to the 23000 capacity crowd and to the floodlights of a night match always looks to capture what tennis has become in its modern era.
However what comes with the modern era of tennis can also leads to its decline. To cater for all Americans at the event there are no obvious class divisions such as at Wimbledon. Instead around the grounds, the average spectator will find large queues for almost everything, constant noise from the overshadowing speakers and tens of food and drink stands. Strawberries and cream is replaced by cheeseburgers and milkshakes, yet everyone seems to be satisfied by such ugly food on offer and there is no sulfur class associated with it and the event itself. Although both Grand Slams have the necessities to survive as a world wide event, the US Open lacks the depth and class of what its counterpart has. At Wimbledon you can expect a brass band play for your own while you can drink Pimms and converse with one another. Where as at the US Open, you're likely to be forced to listen too a more commercial brand of music as you walk around eating a hotdog and French fries. The overgrowing nature of too many businesses to divers into the sporting world has taken its toll on the US Open for the good and for the bad.
The wide ranging comparisons that can be made between Wimblebon and the US Open can illustrate how different the game of tennis can be depicted. Wimbledon possesses a much pleasant atmosphere where as the US Open is much more business orientated. Although each event has its different motives, they are both adapting into the modern era of tennis, using with their own initiatives.
By Joel Girling