Tennis on the internet
Established tennis sites offer plenty of Wimbledon information, but fans' sites provide an extra, personal flavour
Monday 24 June 2002
As Wimbledon gets underway today most of the major sports sites and portals, including
The Independent, will be giving it prominence with news and results, but some of the less well-known tennis sites are also worth visiting for the complementary information and approaches they offer.
As Wimbledon gets underway today most of the major sports sites and portals, including The Independent, will be giving it prominence with news and results, but some of the less well-known tennis sites are also worth visiting for the complementary information and approaches they offer.
The slick and accessible official Wimbledon 2002 site, which has worked almost flawlessly in the past, provides all the basic data and some unique content. Besides breaking news, draw details, order of play and real-time results, it offers detailed player profiles, webcams, radio Wimbledon, video archives, interviews and the all-important daily weather report and forecast.
The stats database is particularly worth consulting as the tournament progresses, and those who enjoy seemingly random snippets of trivia will appreciate the "did you know" features thrown up on each fresh page visited.
TennisForAll is an online magazine that says on its front page that it is strictly for players, a statement that sells itself short. Its appeal is considerably wider. The focus is on instruction, and a lot of the files are designed for schools and tennis clubs to download and display for the benefit of aspiring players. But there's much to engage those interested in the technicalities of play, whether they have ambitions to take to the courts or not.
The use of photography is striking. Not only is the camerawork strong, but, befitting a site with coaching aims, it explains an awful lot of underlying technique. Most of the top contenders at Wimbledon are invoked here, whether to illustrate forehands, backhands, serves or net play. Sequences of leading players in action with roll-over text descriptions about their approach are useful for deepening the appreciation of spectators as well as participants. Some of the composite shots, showing a series of movements superimposed into one frame, make excellent posters – literally, as they're in a high enough resolution to download and print out.
Sanex Heroes is a site about the leading women players written by fans.
It's interactive in the most fundamental sense: it encourages contributions rather than passive reading, although it's still an excellent site for the curious browser and attracts plenty of hits.
It has been gearing up for Wimbledon over the past few weeks, and has multi-lingual pages up and running for 52 women – the Williams sisters, inevitably, are featured but so are other players with much lower public profiles. Clicking on a player from the main index calls up a mini home page with links to news, match reports, relevant links (which is a particular strength of the site) and photos posted by site users – mainly those they have taken themselves at tournaments. It makes a change from the standard news agency work.
Each player has a records/biography page which is crammed with information, and there is also an intriguing "live" link, on which site reporters post up not only scores from ongoing tournaments, but also details of writers' encounters with their heroines. At their best these pages avoid becoming mere exercises in adulation and provide an interesting alternative to player reactions at official press conferences.
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