Line umpire's journey from Colaba to Wimbledon qualifying

The 28-year-old Shailesh Tambe will be officiating the Grand Slam’s qualifying competition at Roehampton, starting on June 25

Shailesh Tambe will become the second Indian linesman to get a chance to work at Wimbledon (Representational Image).   -  Getty Images

From the bylanes of Colaba in south Mumbai to the qualifying round of the Wimbledon tennis tournament, it has been a gritty but fascinating journey for line umpire Shailesh Tambe.

The 28-year-old will be officiating in the grass court Grand Slam’s qualifying competition at Roehampton starting on June 25, becoming the second Indian linesman to get a chance to work in Wimbledon while yet to attain a badge.

Tennis officials are rated in terms of white, bronze, silver and gold badges in that order.

Tambe is a graduate, hailing from a humble background. He has been staying at his sister’s place after the death of his parents.

“My journey began in 2006 as a ball boy at the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA). A year later, I began my career as a line umpire and did my first match in suburban Kalina,” Tambe told PTI.

He approached the MSLTA for financial assistance.

The state tennis body gave him Rs. 50,000 to enable his Wimbledon trip, MSLTA secretary Sundar Iyer said.

“I will be officiating as a line umpire in the qualifying round of the Wimbledon. As to which matches I will officiate, I will come to know only after reaching there,” he said.

On his road to Wimbledon, Tambe said, “I got five Best Line Umpire awards in the past three years and was asked to approach the Wimbledon authorities, which I did in December and got their nod in March.”

“I have also officiated in WTA, Davis Cup and Maharashtra Open matches as a line umpire,” he said.

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