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Wimbledon players, fans and celebs all caught up in SW19 buzz

By Ed Curran

Published 28/06/2016

Usual suspects: Kevin Spacey in discussion with Andy Murray at Wimbledon
Usual suspects: Kevin Spacey in discussion with Andy Murray at Wimbledon

Novak Djokovic began his bid for tennis immortality yesterday as if there would be no stopping him. Winning the first nine games, he swotted aside James Ward with flawless ease as he seeks to equal Rod Laver's record set in 1969 of winning all four Major titles in one year.

The wait and the queues outside Wimbledon's gates were longer than usual yesterday, evidence of the tighter security searches now facing all great sporting events.

Inside the hallowed, immaculately manicured grounds, the atmosphere and unchanging tradition was as evident as ever.

As he walked onto Centre Court, the World No.1 could not miss Kipling's couplet inscribed above the entrance door - "If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same."

The sun shone on the defending champion as he opened proceedings with this year's Australian and French Opens already in his bag. From the Royal Box, Sir Jackie Stewart and Pippa Middleton were among the celebs watching his bid to win the title for the fourth time.

Today, Andy Murray begins his title quest which on his current form should take him to the final with Djokovic in 13 days' time.

He was out on the practice courts, as was Serena Williams, who begins the defence of her Wimbledon crown today.

Inevitably, time marches on for Serena and Roger Federer, both now 34-years-old, and possibly contemplating their last Wimbledon. But who might replace them? One who is fancied to unseat Williams is Garbine Muguruza, the 22-year-old Spaniard, but she struggled on Centre Court in a three-set thriller to overcome Italy's Camila Giorgio.

Dark horses lurking in the men's draw include Milos Raonic, the Canadian, and the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov.

By the end of the fortnight, another £35m will have fallen into Wimbledon's coffers as around 40,000 people a day attend the championships.

In doing so, they knew that the days have long gone when only severe rain delays could guarantee a British player making it to the second week. With Murray as No.2 seed, his brother Jamie in the doubles and the new women's hopeful, Johanna Konta, hopes are high.

In the interview room, Venus Williams and Djokovic reflected on their first round experiences. The former reminded us that she first appeared at Wimbledon in 19 years ago.

Despite the years, she talked as enthusiastically as ever about winning and losing and how she and her sister would be at the Olympics hoping to win more gold. She made no concern about Zika virus fears, only a determination to keep playing. "I don't feel 36," she said. "Playing tennis means the world to me still."

Djokovic talked confidently about his game. He even joked about the number of Wimbledon towels he spirits away to take home to his Serbian friends as mementoes.

The likelihood is that he will be able to secrete more towels on his way towards the final, even if as yesterday he hardly broke into any great sweat to win.

Belfast Telegraph

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