Be Careful Up There!
What do Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Pat Cash, Venus Williams and Goran Ivanisevic all have in common? Sadly it isn't that they have represented Surrey (although we are still holding out hope...) but the answer of course is that they have all scaled the All England Centre Court after winning Wimbledon!
'The Climb' as it is now affectionately known, was a stroke of genius from Australian Pat Cash who was the very first player to tackle the tricky route up to his box. After putting away his forehand volley to beat World No. 1 Ivan Lendl 7-6(5), 6-2, 7-5, Cash took a moment to ponder his options before running 16 steps across Centre Court and deep into the crowd. “For a moment, I had stared at them and waved,” Cash told ATP.com. “I almost chickened out for a minute, because I could see people lining up already and the presentation party getting ready. I joke about it that I beat three top players to win the Wimbledon title, but all people remember me for now is going up into the stands,” says Cash. “It was pre-planned, but I didn’t think about it too well. I didn’t want to jinx it, so I didn’t think about how to get up there or who to hug first.”
Ever since that moment the precedent had been set and a number of other players have tackled 'The Climb' and written themselves into SW19 folk-law in the process. Arguably the most iconic was Rafael Nadal's stroll in the All England's stands after beating Roger Federer 6–4, 6–4, 6–7(5–7), 6–7(8–10), 9–7 in the darkness.
“It’s impossible to explain what I felt in that moment...winning my favourite tournament, it’s a dream,” Nadal said after climbing through the crowd to hug his family and shake hands with Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia of Spain in the Royal Box.
Although not all Wimbledon champs make 'The Climb', five-time winner Novak Djokovic told Wimbledon reporters back in 2014 “I can’t say it’s wrong for the players to go straight to their box after they win the match because I understand the need to share this beautiful moment with your closest ones. I believe that’s also part of sincere emotions that the players show in the end.”
Another legend to avoid the climb is Roger Federer himself who has been quoted saying that he believes it is unfair to leave the runner-up alone on court. (Isn't that the most 'Roger' thing ever!)
In 2014 the All England club made the decision to install a 'champions gate' which gives the winner far easier access to their loved ones. A Wimbledon spokesman said the gate was a precaution rather than a preventative measure. “It’s just to make it easier for them to access their team”.
We wonder what will be the next out of the box celebration at SW19...Crossing the grounds to crowd surf the Henman Hill crowd??