| LONDON, July 28
LONDON, July 28 There was a party atmosphere as
spectators arrived for the first day of Olympic tennis at
Wimbledon on Saturday, with music blaring from loudspeakers as
fans clad in their country's flags sipped drinks on the
sun-drenched grassy hill by Court One.
The All England Club has undergone a complete makeover since
the Wimbledon Championships finished less than three weeks ago,
with the courts now decked in bright purple and the normally
dark green site dotted with pink signs and London 2012 logos.
"I like the colours, 10 out of 10," said university lecturer
Christine Steel, wearing a Union Jack party hat as she took in
the new-look club before heading to Centre Court, where this
year's men's Wimbledon champion Roger Federer is in action
"We are not used to the music," said Wimbledon regular Susan
Lax, who had travelled down from Durham in the north east of
England on Friday, raising her voice to be heard over rock band
Blur. "It is not as sedate as it usually is but I think it has
got plenty of atmosphere."
Despite all the changes, which also include players taking
to the courts in their national colours rather than the
traditional crisp white usually required at Wimbledon, she could
not have imagined the tennis being held anywhere else.
"Wimbledon is tennis for Britain," she said.
Visitors arriving before play began took the opportunity to
explore, having their photo taken with the giant grass statue of
a tennis-playing Olympic mascot Wenlock and watching players
being put through their paces out on the practice courts.
"It is great, everyone is smiling," said 30-year-old Tim
Olford, who was looking forward to seeing 17-time grand slam
champion Federer begin his quest for his first Olympic gold in
the men's singles.
For those who had never been to Wimbledon before, the
opportunity to watch tennis at the famous club at the same time
as experiencing the Olympics was a big draw.
"I always thought it would be so neat to go to Wimbledon,"
said 37-year-old American Jolyn Pobanz, who lives in Germany and
was visiting London for a few days with her husband and three
children, all wearing U.S. flag t-shirts.
"It is not the Wimbledon competition but to be at Wimbledon
for the Olympics is unique."
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, editing by Mark Meadows)