Defending champions Roger Federer and Serena Williams greeted Queen Elizabeth II at the Wimbledon tennis championships today.
The Queen, making her first visit to the All England Club since 1977, also met last year’s finalist Andy Roddick, five-time champion Venus Williams, third-seeded Novak Djokovic, U.S. Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki and former champions Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova.
Thousands of tennis fans applauded the Queen, wearing a turquoise outfit and hat, as she walked from the practice courts at Aorangi Terrace down to Courts 18 and 19. Accompanied by the Duke of Kent, the president of the All England Club, and its Chairman Tim Phillips, the Queen stopped at Court 14 where she was introduced to young tennis players who are part of the Wimbledon junior tennis initiative.
After lunch with current and former players, the Queen will watch fourth-ranked Andy Murray of Britain play Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen on Centre Court from the Royal Box.
The Centre Court crowd rose and applauded the Queen as she made her way into the Royal Box. She waved before sitting now.
Murray and Nieminen then put their bags down, put one arm behind their back and bowed to loud cheers as they entered the court.
The British monarch last visited the grass-court Grand Slam event in southwest London when Virginia Wade won the women’s title, the last Briton to do so. Fred Perry was the last British man to win Wimbledon, in 1936.
Players had been talking about the visit in the days before the monarch’s visit, and whether they should bow or curtsey when they enter Centre Court.
“Players will be invited but not obliged to bow or curtsey,” the Club said in a statement. The tradition to bow or curtsey in front of the Royal Box ended in 2003, with an exception should Queen Elizabeth II or Prince Charles be in attendance.
“For me, it’s just an honor to see the Queen in the Royal Box,” 2008 champion Rafael Nadal said in a news conference earlier in the week. “I would love to have the chance to say hello to her,” added the Spaniard, who will face Robin Haase of the Netherlands in the third match of the day on Centre Court.
Serena Williams won’t be able to execute the curtsey she had been practising for the past few days as the All England Club scheduled her match against Russia’s Anna Chakvetadze on Court 2.
“My curtsey is really fun,” Williams, a 12-time major champion, said in a news conference earlier in the week. “It’s something that she’ll definitely never forget.”