Tim Henman’s name has been tossed into the mix as outwardly tranquil Wimbledon seethes with intrigue and internal corporate scuffling amid a boardroom exodus and a controversial All England Club expansion.
London’s Telegraph on Friday lifted the curtain on the ongoing crisis which has resulted in the abrupt departure of three senior club directors, with former player Henman now reportedly mooted as a possible director candidate.
But the Telegraph points out that the current Wimbledon Committee member would have to give up lucrative sponsorships with HSBC and Jaguar to take the unpaid position as club chairman. He also does television commentary work – at Wimbledon and most recently at the Laver Cup in London.
The paper says that controversy over the banning of Russian and Belarus players from last summer’s Championships – which sparked a Tour ban on ranking points for the event – is a key own-goal.
There is also the 2018 purchase of the treasured local golf club just across Church Road from the main club venue which will now serve as switch purpose as a venue for extra courts and an 8,000 seat stadium.
Local opposition has been fierce, with recent flyers dropped into homeowner mailboxes pointing out that public access to the area would be banned and that even busy Church Road could be closed during the Championship fortnight to cars, buses, bikes and even pedestrians.
In executive suite at the club, the paper reports moves afoot to sideline current chairman Ian Hewitt, a low-key lawyer elected in 2019 who may already be on his way out with plans to bring along a successor to work with him at the 2023 edition of the event and take over the reins afterwards.
Marketing experts suggest that Wimbledon may be taking local goodwill as a given with the massive site expansion plans and that tangling with the ATP and WTA over the contentious Russia issue might have been a tactical blunder.
Players were likely the most hurt by the move, with finalist NIck Kyrgios currently ranked 20th instead of somewhere near or in the Top 10 had he earned his runner-up points.