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It's old school in the men's locker room

Mark Hodgkinson
June 25, 2014
Roger Federer heads for the relatively sparse men's locker-room at Wimbledon © Getty Images

Unlike the women's dressing room, the men's locker room at the All England Club doesn't have sofas and candles. "We don't want to make it too soft for them," Dan Bloxham, the masters of ceremonies at Wimbledon, and the official who looks after the players backstage, told ESPN.

As Bloxham said, the locker room is a working space, not a hotel. "We're very classic and very simple in the men's locker room. We've got wooden benches and wooden lockers. The toiletries might stretch to Brylcreem, if they're lucky, but I'm not sure that anyone actually uses that. There are definitely no sofas. Maybe there's a chair in there, though that might have been moved out," Bloxham told me. "The players might be stretching on the benches or jogging up and down a bit in there. There's not the room for sofas. It's a working room; you're not going to a hotel. You're going there to prepare yourself to perform physically."

There are, however, some indulgences for the 32 seeds in the men's singles draw - they have their own room, with their names on the lockers. "The seeds get asked each year whether they want to be in the same place again, and have the same locker, and so if you had a good tournament the summer before you probably do. If you crashed out in the first round the year before, you might want to make a change," Bloxham said. "For The Championships, the members' names come off the lockers, and the players' names go on. If you get to the semis and beyond, you can have more lockers, as by then there aren't so many players around. At that stage, they're offered two or three lockers."

All-white dresscode? No sweat

For all the fuss that has been made about the apparent tightening of the "almost entirely white" dress code at this year's Championships, it would appear that the players themselves aren't too concerned.

The referee, Andrew Jarrett, wrote to the players and their clothing suppliers before the tournament saying that being sweaty - which can reveal coloured clothing - was no longer an excuse: "Undergarments that either are or can be visible during play, including due to perspiration, must be complete white." But, from speaking to some of the leading players about what they relish about competing at the All England Club, it would appear that being restricted to white clothing is an enjoyable part of the Wimbledon experience. It's almost as if tennis players, who have the freedom for the rest of the year to wear whatever colours and designs their suppliers put them in, appreciate some boundaries for two weeks of the year.

Tip from the top

For all those spectators waiting for play to begin, or who want to take a break from watching live tennis, Judy Murray has a suggestion. "I would recommend spending some time at the Wimbledon Museum," she told me. "It's absolutely fascinating."

Mark Hodgkinson is the author of Ivan Lendl: The Man Who Made Murray. He is writing daily pieces for ESPN during Wimbledon.

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