Wimbledon is widely regarded as a paragon of organisation, including for the media covering the world-famous tennis Championships. After Wimbledon 2010, though, APRIL TOD offers some food for thought for the All-England Club
Wimbledon’s state of the art Media Centre is regarded by most journalists as one of the best run and most accessible of all the Grand Slams, which reflects nicely with the All England Club’s efficiently and expertly managed Championships.
Where the old Court Number One once stood is now the Millennium Centre, a vast labyrinth of restaurants, writing rooms and offices, divided into three interconnecting sections, the Media Centre, the Players’ Complex and Members’ Enclosure. Access to Wi-Fi is free and available throughout the entire Millennium Centre.
This year, more than 530 written press received accreditation at Wimbledon, but with only 300 fully equipped desks, not every accredited journalist was assigned a desk.
There is strict pecking order for desks. The longer you have covered the Championships, the more likely you are assigned the same desk each year. Desks have partitioned writing areas with lockup drawers and television sets that monitor not only televised matches but also all other matches taking place on other courts. Various channels are designated for interviews, statistics and up to the minute scores on all courts.
In fact, there is nothing stopping you sitting at your desk all day and writing a full report on the day’s matches without leaving the Media Centre.
Housed on three floors, the Media Centre has three large rooms for written press and a special area on the ground floor for photographers.
Part of the top floor is the media restaurant, with an open sided covered terrace where on a clear day wonderful views stretch as far as the famous Gherkin in The City and the London Eye.
Twice a year, the committee for the Lawn Tennis Writers’ Association and the All England Club’s media committee meet to thrash out any problems that arise before and after the Championships.
For a long time, one of the main bones of contention has been the high prices in the media restaurant prices. The US Open, for example gives journalist generous daily allowance and the French Open dishes up a different gourmet menu each day with free wine, all for less than £7.
For years, the daily allowance from the All England Club has been a miserly £3.50, but this year, to the astonishment of all, this was more than doubled to £7.50, now just enough to pay for three bowls of Wimbledon’s traditional strawberries (10 of them) and cream.
Perhaps we should be thankful for small mercies,