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Monday, June 22, 2009

Sparkling arena rises from the 'Graveyard'

Photo Titled No.2 Court beginsNo.2 Court begins
©Getty Images / P. Gilham
There is an air of familiarity about the new No.2 Court. Perhaps it is because the court is still located in the southerly part of the grounds. Or it may be that the church steeple can still be viewed poking out above the treetops.

However, the sparkling show court could not be more different to its "Graveyard of Champions" predecessor. Located on the former Court 13 site, the plush 4,000-seat stadium has a distinctly intimate feel, yet it boasts nearly double the numbers of seats as the former No.2 Court.

The court previously known as No.2 has now been renamed as Court 3, and is hopefully not too confusing for those fans who knew that one of the best seats at Wimbledon was in the back row of what was then Court 3 (and now Court 4), offering views of both courts.

There's no such opportunity for a sneaky peek at the new No.2 Court. The new arena is exclusive to ticket-holders in its own right and the cushioned seats and Hawk-Eye lend it the prestige of a mini Centre or No.1 Court.

It was, therefore, fitting that junior Wimbledon champion Laura Robson opened proceedings in the oval-shaped arena, which is 3.5m below ground level. The British teenager, who was making her first appearance in the main draw, pushed Daniela Hantuchova to three sets in an almost gladiatorial affair.

Speaking about the new court afterwards, Robson said: "It was really nice. I was the first one that got to play on it. It was pretty good. It's quite deep. When you see it from just outside it just looks like a normal stadium, but it really goes quite deep. But it's really, really nice and the court was really good."

But it was the Slovakian who made history to become the first player to win a match on the new court, eventually coming through 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Whether the show court will quickly become a new "Graveyard of Champions" remains to be seen – as no Wimbledon greats have been assigned matches there so far.

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