Rain, King and entertainment

Billie Jean King talks to the fans on Centre Court after rain had delayed the start of the women's semi-final match between Lindsay Davenport and Amelie Mauresmo-AFP

BILLIE JEAN KING entertained Centre Court fans by talking rather than playing when it rained at Wimbledon.

BILLIE JEAN KING entertained Centre Court fans by talking rather than playing when it rained at Wimbledon. King, who won a total of 20 Wimbledon titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles, spoke during a rain delay of more than four hours before the women's semifinals.

"Ever since I started tennis when I was 11 years old, I used to read about Wimbledon, I used to dream about Wimbledon," the 61-year-old King said in an interview from the stands that was heard over the public address system.

"I used to have my tennis racquet in bed with me at night doing different grips and visualising myself right out here on Centre Court."

King said she still plays tennis three times a week, in between work she does for charities and foundations to help women in sports. She also keeps up with women's tennis.

"It's great to see the improvement in the sport," she said. Before King retired in 1983, she faced some of the greatest players of all time, including Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Margaret Court and Maria Bueno.

"Those four players by far were above anyone else," King said. Navratilova, 48, is still playing in the doubles and mixed doubles competitions. Like King, Navratilova has 20 Wimbledon titles. "Maybe I should go tie both of her feet together when she plays," King said with a laugh.

King won 39 Grand Slam titles overall. Her favourite at Wimbledon was the last singles championship she won in 1975. "I was very ill the whole two weeks. I had actually retired earlier that year and I decided to play again, and my goal was to win Wimbledon," King said.

Stephen Huss of Australia (right) and Wesley Moodie of South Africa became the first qualifiers to win the Wimbledon men's doubles title.-AFP

Back then, female players didn't shriek on nearly every shot, the way Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova did in their semifinal, but King doesn't think today's grunters are a problem. "I don't really care as long as they play well," she said. "I think it started with Monica Seles... She felt it really helped her hit the ball hard."

That comment prompted Seles to get up and also speak to the crowd. "I never knew that I was grunting. That was just part of my strokes," said Seles, who won the three other Grand Slam titles but never won at Wimbledon. "When I go out there I focus just on the ball."

Both players talked about their memories of playing on Centre Court. "This is a very intimate stage," King said. "I just felt like this was home when I rounded that corner. I'll never forget it as long as I live."

Seles, who has never officially retired but hasn't played in a Grand Slam event since 2003, said she missed walking out onto the grass court. "There is no atmosphere like walking down to Centre Court," Seles said.

Huss, Moodie create history

Stephen Huss and Wesley Moodie became the first qualifiers to win the Wimbledon men's doubles title by beating American twins Bob and Mike Bryan 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-3. The Bryans have lost in the final at each Grand Slam tournament this year. They were beaten by Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett at the Australian Open and Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi at the French Open. The Bryans won the 2003 French Open for their only major championship.

Two in a row for Cara Black

Cara Black of Zimbabwe won her second consecutive women's doubles title at Wimbledon, this time with Liezel Huber of South Africa as her partner.

The second-seeded duo beat U.S. Open singles champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and three-time Wimbledon singles semifinalist Amelie Mauresmo 6-2, 6-1.

Black won the doubles title last year with Rennae Stubbs, beating Huber and Ai Sugiyama in the final. Black also took the mixed doubles title with her brother Wayne in 2004. Huber became the first South African woman to win a doubles title at Wimbledon.

"We went out today and really had a goal and a purpose. To go out and play like we did was a great feeling," Black said. "We knew we had to come out and put a lot of pressure on them. We had to intimidate them by being as active as we could."

Cara Black of Zimbabwe (left) and Liezel Huber of South Africa, the women's doubles winners.-AFP

Black and Huber, who will move up to No. 1 in the rankings, lost in the French Open final.

Huber and Kevin Ullyett of Zimbabwe lost to Paul Hanley of Australia and Tatiana Perebiynis of Ukraine 6-3, 6-4 in the mixed doubles semifinals. Hanley and Perebiynis then lost to Mahesh Bhupathi of India and Mary Pierce of France in the final 6-4, 6-2. It was Bhupathi's fourth mixed doubles title.

For Kuznetsova and Mauresmo, the tournament was their first together. Mauresmo is 160th in doubles, making her the lowest-ranked player in the Open era to reach the doubles final. Kuznetsova has lost five of her six Grand Slam doubles finals, with her only win coming this year at the Australian Open with Alicia Molik.

In the junior doubles, Jesse Levine and Michael Shabaz of the United States won the boys' title by beating Samuel Groth of Australia and Andrew Kennaugh of Britain 6-4, 6-1.

Viktoria Azarenka of Belarus and Agnes Szavay of Hungary won the girls' title, beating Marina Erakovic of New Zealand and Monica Niculescu of Romania 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-0.

Junior champions

France's Jeremy Chardy took the junior boys' title.-REUTERS

Jeremy Chardy of France and Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland won the Wimbledon junior titles.

Chardy, who upset top-ranked Donald Young of the United States in the boys' semifinals, beat Robin Haase of the Netherlands 6-4, 6-3 in the final.

"My goal this year was to win a Grand Slam, and if there was one Grand Slam I could win, I wanted it to be Wimbledon," Chardy said.

"When I was growing up, Pete Sampras was my idol and I had pictures of him in my room. That's why Wimbledon is special for me, because Sampras won here so many times."

Radwanska topped Tamira Paszek of Austria 6-3, 6-4 in the girls' final. Earlier, Paszek had upset top-ranked Viktoria Azarenka of Belarus.

"I was dreaming about coming to Wimbledon, because it's such a famous place," said Radwanska, who played doubles with her 14-year-old sister.

"I was a little bit afraid of the grass because I'd never played on it before. But every match I was surprised how much the surface suits my game."

No. 1 racquets

Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska took the junior girls' title.-REUTERS

All 14 women who have been ranked No. 1 signed racquets that will be auctioned to raise money for the victims of last year's tsunami in Asia.

The proceeds will be used to build houses for people affected by the disaster. Fans can bid for the racquets on eBay.

Besides current top-ranked player Lindsay Davenport, the others are: Tracy Austin, Jennifer Capriati, Kim Clijsters, Chris Evert, Steffi Graf, Justine Henin-Hardenne, Martina Hingis, Amelie Mauresmo, Martina Navratilova, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Monica Seles, Serena Williams and Venus Williams.

Coaching changes

Both Mario Ancic and Joachim Johansson split from their coaches.

Ancic, who reached the semifinals at Wimbledon last year but lost in the fourth round this year, is ranked 17th. He won his first ATP title at the Ordina Open recently. His coach, Rohan Goetzke, said he wanted to spend more time with his family.

The 10th-ranked Johansson, who lost in the third round at Wimbledon, split with coach Fredrik Rosengren.

Connors' comments

Two-time Wimbledon champion Jimmy Connors returned to the All England Club this year to work as a commentator for the BBC and bemoaned the polite on-court demeanour of most players today.

Connors said one player who shares his knack for showmanship is Andy Roddick, who lost the men's final to Roger Federer.

"Certainly our games are not the same — but the attitude," Connors said before the final. "Anybody who shows emotion and enjoyment for the game and for the battle that they're in out there is really what it's all about. That's what gets the fans involved. That's what gets Andy involved in the match. Basically that's also selling the game, and he understands that."

Tennis in the United States rose in popularity in the late 1970s and 1980s when Connors and John McEnroe were battling for titles.

This year Roddick was the lone American man seeded in the top 20 at Wimbledon, and none of the last seven Grand Slam tournaments was won by a man from the country, the longest such drought in 16 years.

"I had an interesting rivalry with Mac," Connors said. "For Andy, he's carrying the weight of all America, really, and that's extra pressure."

Prime fan

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher sat in the Royal Box to watch the women's final and the completion of the men's semifinals.

Former champions Virgina Wade, Maria Bueno and Jana Novotna were also in attendance. Wade, the 1977 champion, is the last Brit to win Wimbledon.

The champions Men's singles: Roger Federer (Swi). Women's singles: Venus Williams (U.S.).

Men's doubles: Stephen Huss (Aus) & Wesley Moodie (RSA).

Women's doubles: Cara Black (Zim) & Liezel Huber (RSA).

Mixed doubles: Mahesh Bhupathi (Ind) & Mary Pierce (Fra).

Men's 35 doubles: Ellis Ferreira (RSA) & Paul Haarhuis (Hol).

Men's 45 doubles: Kevin Curren & Johan Kriek (U.S.).

Women's 35 doubles: Tracy Austin (U.S.) & Jana Novotna (Czech).

Boys' singles: Jeremy Chardy (Fra). Girls' singles: Agnieszka Radwanska (Pol).

Boys' doubles: Jesse Levine & Michael Shabaz (U.S.).

Girls' doubles: Viktoria Azarenka (Blr) & Agnes Szavay (Hun).