Wimbledon residences mix great view, history

- Nick McCarvel @NickMcCarv­el Special for USA TODAY Sports

Looming above Court 18 and Wimbledon’s famed “Henman Hill,” two apartment buildings offer perhaps the best view in tennis: a glistening look over the All England Club.

Early Wednesday morning, Billie Jean King, the trailblaze­r and a founder of the modern-day women’s tennis tour, is having coffee on the top floor of one of the towers, her mug with the word “London” emblazoned on its lip.

“Some of the players think I live here,” King tells USA TODAY Sports. “They think that Wimbledon is my home.”

It might as well be: King won the singles title here six times as well as multiple championsh­ips in doubles and mixed doubles. This marks the first year, however, which she and partner Ilana Kloss have stayed in this particular apartment, though they’ve stayed in one of the buildings “for ages.”

The buildings are full of tennis history. Lindsay Davenport has stayed at times, Mike Bryan and his wife are renting a flat this year, Cliff Drysdale once owned one of the apartments and rented it out and members of the WTA’s executive team stayed there a year ago.

Davenport says she stayed there in 1999 when she won her lone Wimbledon title and another year when there was a fire in one of the buildings. She sent her coach off during one of her matches to make sure her unit was OK.

“Look at how nice this is,” King says, gesturing around the apart- ment, filled with light from wraparound windows. Their apartment looks north, so not directly over Court 18, but they can see Aorangi Park, the practice facility.

Mary Carillo, the former player and now a Tennis Channel commentato­r, has a room. The place is abuzz with tennis stories.

Carillo shares one of King with a bowl of eggs, encouraged by Carillo to play a practical joke and “egg the Hill” during the days that TNT was the Wimbledon rightshold­er. It didn’t happen, but Billie “was game,” Carillo says, laughing.

A year ago, Craig Kardon, coach of American CoCo Vandeweghe, stayed with King and Kloss while Carillo stayed elsewhere. Vandeweghe made a surprise run to the quarterfin­als, but Carillo wanted her room back.

“They can’t kick me loose,” she jokes. “I came over and saw that Craig was their roommate. I got jealous. I said, ‘Next year I’m back here.’ I’m not letting them get rid of me.”

King now spends her energy on projects in and out of tennis, but this Wimbledon is focused on the upcoming season of World TeamTennis, which is on a different schedule this summer because of the Olympics. The league is reintroduc­ing a team in New York.

King, 72, remembers when most would stay in London’s city center, a half-hour drive from Wimbledon, or more.

“I had a little Mini Cooper, it was great,” she says.

This commute? Just five minutes by foot. Or, if they really wanted to, they could watch Court 18 action from the hallway or practices from inside.

“It’s pretty dang convenient,” Carillo says.

The view isn’t bad, either.

 ?? SUSAN MULLANE, USA TODAY SPORTS ?? Billie Jean King won six singles titles at Wimbledon.
SUSAN MULLANE, USA TODAY SPORTS Billie Jean King won six singles titles at Wimbledon.

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