Things ain't what they used to be: WIMBLEDON

23 JUNE-6 JULY
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The Independent Online

How it was

Run by the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club since 1877, Wimbledon attempts to "preserve the idea of a tennis being played in an English country garden," says Paul Newman, The Independent's tennis correspondent and a regular for more than 30 years.

How it is

"Be under no illusion, there's a hard commercial edge to Wimbledon," says Newman. There's a store in Harrods, outlets at airports, and 30 Wimbledon shops in China. It also recently signed a multi-million pound deal with Evian. Is this selling out by the back door? "Absolutely not," says Wimbledon spokesman Johnny Perkins. "We are commercial but we do it in our own way. We keep the courts free of company names, except for those of companies who provide services for the running of the court, such as Slazenger."

Vital Statistics

Six thousand ground admission tickets (from £8) go on sale at turnstiles every day, while approximately 500 tickets go on sale daily for each of the Centre and No 1 courts (from £38). Since 1924, the majority of Centre, No 1 and No 2 court tickets have been sold via a ballot, which closes at the end of December. Around 8 per cent of Centre and No 1 Court seats are given to corporate guests. Admission to the Centre Court's royal boxes is by invitation only.

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