Bowing out

The All England Club bucks tradition. Yes, it's true.

It was a radical move that had asking, "Is Wimbledon falling apart?" and proclaiming that it had "shaken the world of sport to its very core." We're talking, of course, about the All England Club's decision to eliminate one of its most enduring traditions, the bow and curtsy — this year, players will no longer have to show their respect to the Royal Box.

Who's behind this bold stroke? It was made at the request of the Duke of Kent, the All England Club's president since 1969.

"It's sad, but we have to move on," says All England chief executive Christopher Gorringe. "We know there's very little bowing or curtsying done in royal circles now."

Britain's Tim Henman thinks it's a bloody shame. "A couple of years ago at my golf event, the Duchess of Kent told me she wasn't in favour of it anymore," he says. "In some respects it's one of the traditions I think people enjoy."

Take heart, Tim, there are exceptions: Players must still curtsy or bow if Queen Elizabeth or Prince Charles are in attendance. Then again, don't hold your breath. The last time the Queen showed up was in 1977, to present the winner's plate to Virginia Wade. And the Prince has popped in just once, in 1970.

James Martin