Wednesday finally saw the culmination of a 30 year dream of mine to shoot a match on the famed center court at Wimbledon. After 30 years of being a photographer, 25 of those spent with Reuters covering every conceivable sports championship around the world, there were still two things I always wanted to photograph, but for one reason or another never had the opportunity to do so. One was shooting a match on center court and the other, covering a British Open golf championship at St. Andrews.
This year is not my first at Wimbledon, I have been here a number of times editing the great pictures our photographers take during the fortnight of tennis. There is no tennis tournament that produces the beautiful images that Wimbledon does. From the simple white clothes that the competitors must wear, to the light that seems to illuminate the court in a magical way, to the darkish backgrounds of spectators the perfect distance away from the player and to the history that has played out on the grass year after year, one can only describe the chance to be here as special.
Special in the same way it is to have a chance to photograph the Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club. Wimbledon and the Masters are ageless events played out in a similar way with no commercialism and lots of green as backgrounds. They are both considered ultimate events to cover as a photographer. The Masters I have been fortunate enough to attend 20 times.
Growing up a huge sports fan and then becoming a sports photographer, Wimbledon was a place I wanted to see. The first tennis final I covered as a professional photographer was the Canadian Open final between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe in 1979. I don’t think I ever missed watching the men’s or women’ finals at Wimbledon enjoying the yearly Breakfast at Wimbledon TV broadcasts. Yes, my favorites were like everyone’s, the Borg-McEnroe marathon and the Nadal victory over Federer 2 years ago.
Arriving at the All England Lawn and Tennis Center yesterday, it was suggested to me by my colleagues and Bob Martin, the photo manager for the tournament, that today was the day that I should leave the confines of the editing room and photograph the first match of the day between Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych. If you are going to take pictures it might as well be of a six-time champion who was expected to win his quarterfinal match and move into the semi’s on his way to another final.