Wim­ble­don still thrills

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Sport -

WITH the first ball to be served at Wim­ble­don next Mon­day, we chat­ted to Arthur Mar­shall, a West Aus­tralian who took to the fa­mous courts twice in the 1950s, about the ex­pe­ri­ence. SIXTY years ago a wideeyed lad from Fre­man­tle stepped onto the hal­lowed Wim­ble­don courts for the first time.

Arthur Mar­shall was just 20 years old, raw and ner­vous.

Mar­shall had trained un­der Harry Hop­man and along­side fu­ture stars Ken Rose­wall, Neale Fraser, Ash­ley Cooper, Roy Emer­son, Mal An­der­son and Lewis Hoad.

But he said noth­ing could truly pre­pare him for the most pres­ti­gious tour­na­ment in world ten­nis.

“If you ask any Aus­tralian, they’ll say Wim­ble­don is the pin­na­cle,” he said.

“The courts are like bil­liard ta­bles and all staff are skilled to the minute.

“I must ad­mit, walk­ing onto court six for my first match, I was re­ally ner­vous.

“If you went over­seas there wasn’t any­thing in the pa­per about Aus­tralia ex­cept golf and ten­nis re­sults. It was a big deal.”

It was 1955 and Mar­shall, a left-handed serve and volleyer, was matched up with the late Dan­ish star Kurt Nielsen in the first round, a player who would go on to lose to Amer­i­can Tony Trabert

d421862 in the fi­nal.

Mar­shall fell in straight sets 6-2, 6-4, 7-5, but said his con­fi­dence grew as the match pro­gressed.

“Nielsen was a great player,” he said.

“It was my first year on tour so I went in cold, not hav­ing seen most of them play.

“I re­alised he didn’t have the best fore­hand, so I tar­geted that.

“I’ve got a photo of him and I from that match, which I tell ev­ery­one is a col­lec­tors item: the first-round loser and the last-round loser.

“That match bonded us as friends.

“They do it well, Wim­ble­don: the pres­tige of it, the white, the way the courts are marked to per­fec­tion, the cars,” he said.

“It’s amaz­ing. It’s like a wed­ding. They care for the play­ers. Wim­ble­don wants to make the play­ers feel like they want to come back. They’re waited on like lords.”

Pic­ture: Elle Borg­ward

Arthur Mar­shall has fond mem­o­ries of Wim­ble­don.

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