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Wimbledon buzzing with Queen's visit

sports Updated: Jun 23, 2010 12:19 IST

AFP
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Wimbledon is abuzz with excitement ahead of Queen Elizabeth II's visit to the tennis championships Thursday, in her first appearance in the royal box since 1977.

The 84-year-old sovereign is due to meet players past and present and seeing some of the biggest names in the game duelling on Centre Court.

All eyes will be on whether the players will revive the historic tradition and bow to the royal box, something that used to mark out Wimbledon as a distinct and special tournament. Tim Phillips, the club chairman, said he was "delighted and honoured" that the Queen was attending.

Queen Elizabeth is the club's patron, but the last of her three Wimbledon visits was in her silver jubilee year 1977, which also brought the last British singles title - Virginia Wade.

Britain's Andy Murray, who could play before her on Centre Court, will probably be hoping the lucky omen works again. The All England Club's president, Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, is the regular royal face at The Championships.

Players always used to bow or curtsey to the royal box on entering or leaving Centre Court, but the tradition was discontinued in 2003 in accordance with the duke's wishes, with an exception if Queen Elizabeth or Prince Charles was in attendance.

Reigning ladies' champion Serena Williams said she was worried about getting nervous playing before the Queen.

"My curtsey is really fun. It's something that she'll definitely never forget, if I ever even get a chance to meet her," she said.

Spain's world number one Rafael Nadal was excited about the visit. "For me, it's just an honour to see the Queen in the royal box. I would love to have the chance to say hello to her," said Nadal.

Queen Elizabeth is due to walk past Aorangi Terrace --commonly known as Henman Hill -- where fans without tickets for the big courts gather to watch the action on the giant screen.

She was to watch a display of junior tennis, before heading to the members' enclosure to meet players past and present. After lunch, she will take her place in the royal box on Centre Court to watch the action.

"Everyone is absolutely delighted," a Wimbledon spokeswoman said.

"I'm certain we will make sure things are looking absolutely tip-top. It's Wimbledon's way to ensure things are at their best. We're very happy, excited and prepared. Hopefully we'll put on a good show and some good tennis. Wimbledon will do things with its typical style and flair."

The last of Her Majesty's subjects to win the men's singles crown was Australia's Lleyton Hewitt in 2002, while in the ladies' competition it was Australia's Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980.