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Wimbledon is a paradox. While outwardly appearing the quintessential English lawn tennis club, as much a part of being British as strawberries and cream or picnics in the park, it is in fact the largest annual outside broadcast operation in the world and a multi-million pound commercial enterprise. Remarkably, an enterprise that generates its profit in just two weeks of the year.
It is also something we do rather well. Which other tennis tournament in the world can describe itself as simply, "The Championships"?
Chris Gorringe is the man who, for twenty-six years, made it all happen. The former chief executive, fondly referred to as "Clockwork Gorringe," has dealt with everything from the 1973 players' boycott, the McEnroe tantrums, and Middle Sunday, to the demands for equal prize money and the Olympic bid. He has witnessed some of the greatest names in the sport producing some of their most dazzling performances - from Navratilova to the Williams sisters, from Borg to Federer - while assisting with the requirements of and demands on today's high-profile professional tennis players. During his tenure, revenue increased from �58,000 in his first year, to �27m in his last. In Holding Court, he charts the unique journey of one of the country's most venerable establishments, where decisions are still made through a committee system dating back to 1868, into the modern era.
For anyone who has ever been captivated by McEnroe v Borg, soaked up the atmosphere in Aorangi Park, or been intrigued by what goes on behind the scenes at SW19, Holding Court is a must-read. Wimbledon is a national institution. When play starts on the first Monday, millions of followers tune in. This book is for them.
- Random House, October 2009
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