WIMBLEDON '95: 'Everyone drank - at least one umpire fell asleep'

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The Independent Online
Times are changing at Wimbledon with some of the biggest differences being felt by the huge team of umpires and line judges. Over 360 will officiate at the 1995 Championship, a far cry from 1966 when Janet Jones was making her first appearance in the chair at the All England Club.

"I was umpiring with just one line judge in some matches," says Mrs Jones who started life in charge of a match with Britain's David Lloyd."And mistakes, well there were more, but players used to make up for this - if they knew they'd benefited from an incorrect decision they might have served a fault to even things up."

Other differences include the rules on alcohol intake and the dress code for the 90's umpire.

"We always had a cocktail party at noon on the first Tuesday and naturally everyone drank which led to at least one umpire falling asleep in the chair," she adds."Now the party is at 8pm on Tuesday and our own rules forbid any alcohol in the day.

"Also when I started you could wear what you like,even white gloves and a handbag - one umpire I remember would always wear a brown Trilby hat. It was a case in the Sixties of having a rule book and getting on with it. I joined the umpire's association in January and was at Wimbledon in June, it could take up to five years to make that transition in 1995.

Impetuous players are the domain of the chief umpire, Roger Smith, who organises his team which will include around 30 professionals he says "Players rarely complain about an umpire it's usually the other way round - umpires tell us to keep them away from certain players."