TWO years of tennis turmoil has taken its toll on the world’s most iconic tournament as news broke this week of a potential boardroom coup at Wimbledon.
And the recent departure of three senior directors, plus growing opposition to expansion plans has added to SW19 woes.
Current chairman Ian Hewitt is at the centre of a battle for control, with former players Debbie Jevans and Tim Henman touted as possible replacements, along with Unilever boss Kevin Havelock.
The exclusion by the All England club of Russians and Belarussians at this year’s event – a decision forced upon them by the British government – has also caused rifts within management.
Last week Commercial Director Gus Henderson quit after just 15 months. Estate Director Robert Deatker and Communications Director Alexandra Willis also quit recently.
Throw in the growing local community anger at the organisation’s plans to develop land on a neighbouring golf club and new chief executive Sally Bolton must be wondering what she has got herself into.
Senior members on the 12-person committee have become increasingly alarmed at the state if affairs and some have quietly cited the lack of leadership from Hewitt as a major cause for concern.
That committee is expected to meet soon to discuss a new way forward.
Losses incurred as result of Covid and the Russian ban saw Wimbledon lose its ranking status in 2022 – but the increased local anger in and around the south London area over the development of the golf course is another headache.
The development of the golf course, that would see 38 new courts built, now has 14 local groups lined up against the proposals – plus local politicians representing the affected area.
And with two local councils also involved, there are real fears any approval to start the development will be put on hold until next year.
Locals aren’t apparently totally opposed to the project, but the lack of a coherent traffic management plan and wider usage of the new facilities has angered many.
It is thought council planning meetings will refer the development to the Mayor of London’s office , which will see yet more delays.
Wimbledon’s standing in the world of tennis is also at risk, after it infuriated both the ATP and the WTA over the banning of Russian and Belarusian players.
That decision also left the management committee split, with serious concerns that no compromise option was even considered.
Jevans is being tipped as the favourite. She has tennis pedigree, reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon in 1979, and has built a career in management ross at several key sports, including the London Olympics and the 2015 rugby World Cup.
Henman is the outsider, as he would have to relinquish lucrative sponsorship and broadcasting deals to take up the role.
But businessman Havelock has plenty of influential supporters among the hierarchy.
Whoever does take over, will have plenty on their plate to rebuild a clearly tarnished image.
MEANWHILE, Russian Andrey Rublev last week suggested that the British government stopped Daniil Medvedev from playing at the recent Laver Cup event in London.
Laver Cup rules state that the top three players in the ATP world rankings on the day after the French Open final receive automatic invites to take part.
Medvedev was the world No.2 behind Novak Djokovic, so should have been invited.
But Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas took part, stand-ins for the injured Alexander Zverev and the Medvedev.
Rublev was asked if was invited to play the Laver Cup, and said : “Not me. I know that Daniil Medvedev was.
“But there is also the British government, and they said that it won’t work.”
NOVAK Djokovic has revealed that a new kind of insect has been named after him.
Researchers recently found a new kind of insect in Western Serbia and decided to name it “Duvalius djokovici.”
Djokovic took to Instagram to reveal the news on Instagram on Friday.
SERENA Williams has been busy as her tennis playing career winds down.
As well becoming an author of a children’s book ‘The Adventures of Qai Qai’, Willians has reportedly invested in more than 60 start-ups through her firm Serena Ventures.
And the 23-time Slam champion revealed last week she wanted to be involved with ballet when she was a child.
“I feel like everyone loves ballet, I love ballet, I’m selfish I wanted to do it because I love ballet and I wanted to be a ballet dancer,” she said.
“I remember being young and going to a ballet class and then there were recitals that we got to do in the end and honestly they were some of my greatest and best memories. I didn’t get to go pro as a ballerina but it’s a good chapter in everyone’s life.”
William also told the story of the naming of the character Qai Qai in her book.
“My nephew actually named her Qai Qai and I was like its perfect and at the time Olympia was one and she couldn’t really speak and she could only make like sounds,” williams said.
“It was genius and that’s literally how it came about.”
SERENA and sister Venus have also teamed up away from the court by investing together in a London fintech firm during a $40 million funding round.
The pair have become shareholders in Soho-based investor app Shares, which launched in the UK in May and has since gained more than 150,000 users.
Shares CEO Benjamin Chemla told the London Standard newspaper he sought the support of the Williams sisters to help “build a social trading platform and one that addresses a more diverse audience and a more feminine one.”
“My dream team from day one was the Williams sisters. We had this occasion to meet them in Paris [and] I felt lucky because almost right away they understood the vision,” he said.
“Not only do they become a shareholder but also the faces of the company. We wanted them both – they’ve probably never been together in the same campaign.”
LAST week Sunday Serve reported the on-court spat between Corentin Moutet and Adrian Andreev at the Orleans Challenger event.
Top seed Moutet and Bulgarian Andreev met in the second round of the event in France as a feud escalated after the match as they exchanged words and then had to be separated by the chair umpire.
Andreev later explained that their feud went back to their match in Genoa earlier on the year when Moutet told him to “f*** off”.
“During the match, I felt really bad. He kept teasing me,” he said.
“In Italy he started talking to me and saying ‘what’s your problem?’ I had no problem with him. I beat him, and he told me to ‘f*** off’. He has a problem with me but I don’t have one with him.”
The pair were both hit with a €10,000 fine for the incident.
AND finally …
The 101st anniversary of the Prentice Cup for men and the Seabright Cup for women saw British Oxbridge students return home from the US with a double victory for the first time last week.
Students from Oxford and Cambridge faced their counterparts from Harvard and Yale, who have traditionally dominated the competition.
But the Britons took the honours, the men securing their first win in 14 years while the women won for only the third time since the inaugural Seabright cup in 2004.
Harvard/Yale students will make the trip to England for the next series in 2024.