Wimbledon 2018: The West Side Story
Early starts and late finishes for fifteen days to photograph the worlds greatest players at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club was an absolute blast, but not without its moments.
Photographing this years Wimbledon Championships was super hard work, but then again it is the biggest tennis tournament in the world with eighteen courts over two weeks with over 30 degree heat on a daily basis. The one constant thought I had throughout this tournament was getting a photo spot to cover both the ladies & gentlemen’s singles semi finals & final matches. To qualify for a photo shot you have to earn it by getting a decent number of publications throughout the tournament. So I had thirteen days to earn my place and cover as many matches as possible and submit as many pictures as possible to the national & international press, every match and picture counted…so no pressure then.
From 25th June to 15th July I covered a total of seventy nine matches and submitted to the agencies, which send directly to the press, one thousand eight hundred and sixty four photographs. Looking at those numbers it is massive but the numbers do reflect the amount of work that was involved, don’t forget Wimbledon is a two weeks tournament with dozens of singles, doubles and mixed doubles matches on the go on a daily basis. With so many matches going on it can be very daunting to figure out which ones to cover, so myself and my agency drew up a daily plan on which matches to photograph, those particular matches would give us the best opportunities to hopefully get published throughout the tournament.
Covering so many matches wasn’t without its photographic obstacles, as an accredited photographer covering the Championships my type of photographers pass only allowed me to photograph all courts from the West Side which was behind the umpires chair, the players chairs, the drinks bins, the line judges and tv cameras. However due to the size of some of the courts, I was allowed to photograph from the East Side, but in general all the main courts from Centre to Court number three, I was allowed to photograph from a gantry position if I wanted (by permission) to get those type of pictures. The reason why some photographers have West & East side passes is because of the number of photographers covering the tournament, so competition to get pictures published before everyone else was sometimes difficult. However, from the start of the Championships I was never bothered about the other photographers, I was experienced enough to fully concentrate on nailing those important court action moments.
The only obstacle I faced at the Championships was having enough time to be creative. Two weeks at a tennis tournament may seem at first plenty of time to be creative with your pictures, but honestly it wasn’t. I was darting from one match to another on the first week covering both gentlemen’s and ladies singles matches so making time to be creative was tough. However, during the first week of the Championships I observed how the sun’s shadow covered the courts from late mornings to late afternoons, so from week two I made the time to produce some creative photographs.
So I made it, I not only gained a photo position to cover the semi finals but also both the ladies and gentlemen’s single finals. This was due to making a total of sixty publications both online and print nationally and internationally in a two week period, such an achievement in a short period of time during a major tournament is a wonderful personal achievement. As a Sports Photographer, I’ve covered many major moments in sports and its always important to not get nervous or carried away in the occasion. I mentally treated both finals as just another match, that way I was alway calm, fully concentrated and ready to capture the important moments at both finals.
On reflection a few days after the tournament, despite the running around covering matches, the hopes, the worries, the cuts and bruises, the large amount of sun cream I had to put on, tv cameras in the way, spectators in the way, this tournament was a lot of fun to photograph and I’ve come back with some amazing memories. As a photographer covering this tournament is another level, its very prestigious. I always feel once you get a photographers pass to cover Wimbledon it is an honour and an absolute privilege to photograph the biggest tennis tournament in the world at the grandest of stages. As Novak Djokovic said during his post match interview with the BBC after winning his fourth Wimbledon Championships “…this is a sacred place for world of tennis”
A few hours before I photographed the Gentlemen’s Singles Final, I spent about half an hour wondering around the Wimbledon Museum, its free for the media, and no one was around as it just opened. After being amazed by seeing Billie Jean King and Bjorn Borg’s winning rackets and clothes, as well as a interactive John McEnroe telling stories about his time battling against Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Conners, I turned towards a small round room, in front of me behind a thick tube glass was the Gentlemen’s Singles Final Trophy.
Standing their just reading the past champions and admiring the shape, the height and the gold that covers this special trophy that has been lifted at Centre Court by legends for decades, in a few hours time I would again be in front of this iconic trophy photographing the soon to be 2018 Champion, that moment inside a quite museum front of that trophy gave me enough motivation to go back into Centre Court and do what I do best.
Below are some of my favourite publications I made over the two weeks;