Until Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer conspired to cook up something very, very special on the All England Club’s Centre Court nearly two years ago, the 1980 Wimbledon final between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe was regarded by many as the greatest tennis match of all time. Now with the pair’s 50th birthdays long consigned to history, they are set to return to the hallowed grass for a re-enactment. Unfortunately the event, certain to be a 15,000 Centre Court sell out if the tickets were put on sale to the general public, will be watched by only a select few on an outside court. HSBC, corporate partners to the All England Club, is paying for the event and will invite a relatively small audience. Centre Court is traditionally never played on so close to the start of the Championships as the All England Club’s Head Groundsman Eddie Seward insists on having the surface in pristine condition for the beginning of the male champion’s defence at 1pm on the first Monday. Last year there was the specially arranged day for the Roof Opening, involving Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Kim Clijsters and Tim Henman but that took place in early May before the French Open. Initial plans are that the match will staged sometime in the week before the Championships start on Monday, June 21. McEnroe prefers to fly home to New York between his commentary commitments at the French Open and Wimbledon but is scheduled to make an exhibition appearance in Liverpool in the week preceding the Championships and the prospect of another joust with Borg on grass is to good to miss
Borg is employed by HSBC as one of the their Global Tennis Ambassador but there are concerns that the event, organized by IMG, might cause some alienation as the public is not allowed and Wimbledon is moving further into the corporate market when social outlays by banks and financial houses are viewed with suspicion in the current British economic climate.