Net cast far and wide for illegal immigrants

Court Circular
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The Independent Online

The security would have put a royal birthday party to shame. Armed police patrolled the grounds, private guards were six deep and every member of Wimbledon staff, including all 1,560 chefs, waiters and bottle-washers, had been vetted. Meanwhile, Home Office investigators, searching for illegal immigrants, questioned spectators as they arrived. It all appeared a bit heavy-handed, although officials defended the policy by saying they did not want anyone to slip through the net. So to speak.

The fashion-conscious Venus Williams will undoubtedly be aware that men are no longer required to wear shirts with sleeves at this year's Championships. Officials agreed that - as long as the "predominantly white" code was observed - it was not just a plea by the body beautiful but had its sporting merits by, apparently, allowing freer movement. Despite the heat, no one took advantage of the relaxation yesterday although leading players such as Carlos Moya and James Blake - coincidentally, of course, the new pin-up on the male circuit - are expected to wear nothing more than their hearts on their sleeves when they appear.

There were also even more cameras on show than usual - although these ones were not trained on the players. A film crew have been allowed in to collect footage for a forthcoming romantic comedy, imaginatively titled "Wimbledon", which is being made by Working Title the company behind Four Weddings and a Funeral" and Bridget Jones' Diary. It will star Kirsten Dunst from Spiderman as a rising American player and Paul Bettany - A Beautiful Mind - as a wild-card Briton ranked 157 in the world whose career is coming to an end. Will he triumph? Although scenes are being filmed on Centre Court, the film's producers are reluctant to reveal the ending. "The fact that he is English is the key," is all they will say. Another plucky loser, then.

Talking of which, up on Henman Hill the queuing has started early. Less than three hours into the tournament and a line snakes down the steps towards Court 2. And that's people queuing to sit on the grass, to watch a match on television. Albeit on a big television. An expensive way to pay for a picnic, some would say.

An even longer queue has settled outside the small tent reserved to bag a player autograph. Inside Xavier Malisse, the long-haired Belgian No 1, is scribbling away with a flourish. After having their programmes and T-shirts signed, two women turn away. One admits: "I don't know who he is." "I think he's a man," replies the other solemnly. What was that game about naming six famous Belgians?

In the interview room after his astonishing victory over Lleyton Hewitt, the journalists get down to the vital facts with Ivo Karlovic. "Were you a big baby," they ask the 6ft 10in Croatian giant. "No. I was average," came the bemused reply. "After, I start to get taller."

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