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Wimbledon ‘always changing, always the same’, says commercial director

Mick Desmond said the era of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had transformed the sport.

Rafael Nadal (Victoria Jones/PA)
Rafael Nadal (Victoria Jones/PA)

The essence of Wimbledon is “gladiatorial” sport meets English garden, the club’s commercial director has said.

Speaking on the 10th day of the championships, Mick Desmond said the era of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had transformed the sport.

“It’s elevated tennis to a different level – these guys are sporting icons and it’s very gladiatorial,” he said.

“It draws an interest – it draws an interest from people who may not necessarily watch tennis but just want to see these superstars go up against each other.”

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David Beckham in the Royal Box (Mike Egerton/PA)

But despite the on-court fireworks, Mr Desmond said the club would always be an oasis of calm.

“The brand essence will always be that tennis and English garden, the beauty of the site, playing on grass, playing in white,” he said.

Mr Desmond said the ethos at Wimbledon was “always changing, always the same”.

“We want to set the best possible stage in terms of tennis, in fact in the world of sport,” he said.

“When the players arrive here, it just becomes a magnificent stage for them to perform on.

“We’re never satisfied – every year we’re just trying to raise the bar.”

Sir Richard Branson, who attended with his daughter Holly, said the atmosphere of Wimbledon was the biggest draw.

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Sir Richard Branson with daughter Holly Branson at Wimbledon (Philip Toscano/PA)

He admitted Serena Williams is the only player he actually recognises playing on Thursday.

He told PA: “The only player I know is Serena so obviously I will be looking forward to watching her play – we wish there were some English stars but maybe another year.

“I’m just looking forward to enjoying Wimbledon and its beauty, and hopefully having some strawberries and cream.”

David Beckham, Dame Maggie Smith, The Crown star Claire Foy and Queen drummer Roger Taylor will also have the best view of Williams’s clash with Czech player Barbora Strycova from the Royal Box on Centre Court on Thursday afternoon.

Model Jodie Kidd was spotted in the grounds wearing a salmon pink sundress and shades, while Sir Cliff Richard returned for the third day in a row.

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