Tennis: No 1 Court all dressed up for its big day

Wimbledon looks forward to the 21st century with a new No 1 Court ready for play this afternoon, writes John Roberts. Eleven singles champions, each with at least three titles, have been invited for the opening ceremony, to be per- formed at 1.30pm by the Duke of Kent. Due on parade are Rod Laver, John Newcombe, John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Pete Sampras, Louise Brough, Maria Bueno, Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.

In addition to the new No 1 Court, a broadcast centre, new courts 18 and 19, and a road tunnel linking Somerset Road and Church Road will come into operation for the first time. The landscaping has also been completed.

The new No 1 Court seats 11,000, an increase of 4,500 on the original No 1 Court, which has been demolished. The building incorporates a food village, a merchandising shop, 11 hospitality suites and a debenture holders' lounge overlooking courts 14-17.

The site where the original No 1 Court stood, adjacent to the Centre Court, will be cor- doned off and camouflaged during the tournament. After- wards work on the site starts on a new facilities building pro- viding improved amenities for players, media, officials and club members. Completion is scheduled for 2000 and the long-term plan will cost in excess of pounds 100,000.

About 500 tickets for No 1 Court will be on sale each day.