Stars shine at soggy Wimbeldon

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Andy Murray waves to the crowd after beating Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut during day five at Wimbledon Andy Murray waves to the crowd after beating Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut during day five at Wimbledon

David Beckham watched the action at Wimbledon with some of the biggest names in British sport - and he brought his mother along for the day.

But the rain meant there were more brollies than volleys at the All England Club, leaving damp tennis fans on Murray Mount miffed about seeing empty seats on Centre Court.

Beckham, his mum Sandra and British Olympic heroes kept dry in the Royal Box as the Centre Court roof came to the rescue - meaning that Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer could play their matches.

The great British summer made a splash in SW19 following a week that had dry days with glorious sunshine, meaning matches had to be cancelled and spectators did not see much tennis.

One woman, wearing a plastic poncho and watching the big screen on Murray Mount, said near the start of Sharapova's match, which followed Nadal's, she could see only one person left in the Royal Box and lots of empty seats around the stands.

Karen Rispoli, 60, from Sydney, said: "I thought it was a shame that they didn't open them up to people who were out here in some way."

Another spectator said it was "really annoying" for people sitting outside in the rain to see footage showing empty seats on the screen.

But an official said tickets were sold out, and one tennis fan said she would not like to think the stars in the Royal Box left their prime seats after Nadal's match just so they could wine and dine.

Afternoon tea is available in the Royal Box restaurant, but Rachel Smith, 33, who had travelled from Edinburgh to go to Wimbledon, said she thought it would be "poor form" if the stars had left after the opening match to enjoy a "long lunch".

Earlier, heartthrob diver Tom Daley was late and missed out on a moment in the spotlight when Sue Barker introduced the sporting stars to the Centre Court crowd before the day's big matches got under way.

Daley, swapping the diving board for the tennis court, tweeted that he was on the way to Wimbledon "straight from training" and was "running late".

It has become traditional for people from the world of sport to watch the Centre Court action on the middle Saturday of the tournament.

While World Cup winner Sir Bobby Charlton was among the Royal Box guests, the current England team were not in the exclusive area despite being home early from Brazil.

Beckham - who participated in a Mexican wave and was spotted taking a photo of his mother - joined British Olympic medallists Victoria Pendleton, Nicola Adams, Sir Matthew Pinsent, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Amy Williams and Lizzy Yarnold.

England rugby captain Chris Robshaw, England cricketers past and present Phil Tufnell, Andrew Strauss, Stuart Broad and Steven Finn were there, along with golfer Ian Poulter, boxing stars David Haye and Anthony Joshua, and swimmer Mark Foster.

Also in the Royal Box was India's now-retired cricket talisman Sachin Tendulkar, one of the greatest ever batsmen.

Andy Murray's mother Judy also joined the stars, and military personnel were there too marking Armed Forces Day.

BBC host Barker introduced each of the guests, and the smiling stars stood and waved to the crowd.

While Beckham got perhaps the biggest cheer, representatives from the military were given a standing ovation.

Film stars were also on the grounds - including James Bond actress Gemma Arterton and Star Trek legend Sir Patrick Stewart.

Broadchurch star David Tennant, businesswoman Michelle Mone, Countdown maths whizz Rachel Riley, model Amy Willerton, and member of former boyband JLS Oritse Williams were there too.

Meanwhile, back on Murray Mount, Joanne Robson, 30, from Durham, was watching the day's big matches on the screen: "I'm a bit disappointed watching Centre Court because there's lots of empty seats and we're all sitting here in rain. I find that really annoying."

Ms Robson started queueing at 6am to get into the grounds.

Anne Emery, 42, from Berkshire, said: "I think it's a shame. We would be in there if we could."

James Morphet, 23, made the trip from Yorkshire for the day's action, and said: "We came down last night and we queued up for about six hours this morning, and we've not seen any tennis."

Meanwhile, Susan Gibb, from Edinburgh, said: "It's just one of those things."

The weather is just "pot luck", she said.

The Wimbledon website states: "If there is less than one hour's play because of rain on the court for which tickets have been bought, the original purchasers of the tickets for that court on that day will be refunded the amount paid for those tickets - the maximum refund payable will be the face value of the tickets for the day concerned."

People who buy ground passes at the turnstiles - not including tickets bought after 5pm - are eligible for a full refund if, due to rain, the average amount of play on the courts covered by the ground pass is less than an hour.

Shockwaves rippled around Wimbledon as Serena Williams crashed out of the tournament.

As the rain stopped, the match could be finished, and Williams was beaten 1-6 6-3 6-4 by Frenchwoman Alize Cornet.

For the first time since 2006, neither Serena nor Venus Williams will appear in the second week of the Wimbledon ladies' singles competition.

Elsewhere, about 200 people had already started queuing for Monday's matches.

The weather was not dampening the spirits of the tennis enthusiasts as they described the atmosphere in the famous queue as "fantastic".

On Monday Murray is set to play 6ft 8in Kevin Anderson in the fourth round.

Comments (2)

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9:48am Sat 28 Jun 14

British_Beef says...

Good luck Andy Murray!
Good luck Andy Murray! British_Beef
  • Score: 0

12:19pm Sat 28 Jun 14

jimmysmith says...

its no surprise ,theres no england football squad members invited .when the headline reads Sports Stars .
its no surprise ,theres no england football squad members invited .when the headline reads Sports Stars . jimmysmith
  • Score: 0
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