SW19 diary: You want in? Try designing the uniforms

Sunday 23 October 2011 05:08

In another storming SW19 Diary exclusive, we can reveal that the final touches were last night being put to a top-level security plan for tomorrow's men's final because a major A-lister is due in town with a retinue of movie star mates.

The man in question, according to one of the Diary's many Hollywood moles, is the billionaire American fashion designer, Ralph Lauren, 69, estimated by Forbes magazine to be the planet's 244th richest person with a personal fortune of $2.8bn.

Since 2006, Lauren's premier brand, Polo Ralph Lauren, has been the official outfitter of the championships here, kitting out the ballboys, umpires and line judges. "He wants to pay a visit to check, first-hand, how this Wimbledon operation is doing," a source said. "The prospect of some world-class tennis is attractive too." Among the names on Lauren's guest list for Centre Court, we understand, are film directors Woody Allen (who once made a tennis movie, Match Point, featuring Scarlet Johansson) and Sir Ridley Scott, whose credits include Alien, Thelma & Louise, and Gladiator. "You can also expect an A-list actor or two," our mole insists.

Being Lauren's guest is one way to get seats. Paying many thousands to buy debenture tickets on the legal secondary market is another. But apart from that, it's virtually impossible to get in.

Some seriously famous people have tried and failed. The All England Club took a call yesterday from someone requesting seats "in the VVIP category".

For whom? None other than rock legend Prince. "Sorry, no can do," the agent was told. Someone called on behalf of the actress Maggie Gyllenhaal saying, ever so politely, that she was in town and would pay for seats for today, if available. "No can do," they were told.

Another caller claimed to be the editor of a famous style mag that nobody at the club had heard of, saying he wanted seats and was bringing famous guests. "You can camp in the car park for a ground pass," he was told. "Not sure the Black Eyed Peas will want to do that," he said.

And then there was the US actor Chace Crawford ("Who?" we ask), whose "people" insisted he'd bring a magazine snapper with him to "give your tournament some publicity".

Yeah, right.

Literary trip down memory lane

If tomorrow's final is anything near as good as last year's men's epic showdown between Federer and Rafael Nadal, we're all in for a treat. That 2008 match is the central narrative thread of a new book, Strokes of Genius, by an American, Jon Wertheim, a senior sports writer for Sports Illustrated. The Diary highly recommends this beautifully written retelling of a classic. Here's an extract about the first point.

"On the fourteenth stroke of the rally, Nadal chased a ball deep in the corner and rocketed a forehand, laced with his singular blend of power and spin. The ball flew over the middle of the doubles alley for much of its flight. Then, like an airplane on autopilot, it hooked and descended in the corner of the singles court, maybe six inches from both lines, out of Federer's reach."

The Diary also admires the well-sourced glimpses inside the locker room that day, including Federer's wry "So, I guess we meet again" smile to Nadal when the pair arrived, and the observation that Federer was so intensely focused during the rain delay, he looked "stoned".

We always said Fed was on another planet.

Why Murray and Pokemon do not mix

*The London office of Japanese toy company Pokemon is furious with Andy Murray. Why so? Because their telephone number is the same one that, until three years ago, was the number for the Lawn Tennis Association. And they've been flooded with ticket requests this fortnight. "It's been driving everyone round the bend," says a source.

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