Wimbledon 97: Court Circular: Net gains for Gimelstob

Gary Lineker once famously cited Teletext as the only way to watch Wimbledon play football. The world has moved on and there are now such useful tools as the Internet. For the price of a local telephone call, anybody in the world can follow a game as it develops, point by point.

Undoubtedly there are easier ways to see a contest unfold, but for those most intimately involved, it is the next best thing if they could not get over to England, and there is no broadcast on either television or radio for them.

The American Justin Gimelstob got an idea of the tension involved for the screen- watchers when he called home following his five-set marathon victory over the French Open champion, Gustavo Kuerten.

"My father [Barry, a New Jersey financial consultant] has a bunch of people in his office who follow tennis and they watched it on the Internet point by point," he said. "That's tough.

"It's so much easier to play than to watch it like that, not to be able to see anything, just to see the individual points as they come up. After that, I think he probably gave the office the rest of the day off."

AOL, an on-line service provider, has a site at Wimbledon overlooking the new No 1 Court complex. It has staff monitoring each and every game, updating the progress with every point. Yesterday, it proved a more than useful refuge from the weather as monotony reigned.

"We have had a lot of interest from spectators all week," Rachel Eade, the AOL office administrator, explained. "They come to send messages back to their friends and family at home or just to surf the Net."