Watson's Iconic Match In Birmingham
Published April 18, 2013 12:00
BIRMINGHAM, England - Heather Watson and Tim Henman were in Birmingham recently to announce a one-off tennis match that will take place to mark the opening of the new Centre Court.
Hanging out the kit in anticipation, Watson and Henman announced they will play a unique doubles match on Sunday, June 9 against Greg Rusedski and his mystery partner to celebrate the opening of the new Centre Court at the Edgbaston Priory Club. The tournament will begin on Monday, June 10.
The exhibition match will be the first match played on the brand new sunken Centre Court.
"It's fantastic to be competing on home turf at this year's Aegon Classic but now I'm also really excited to play with Tim," Watson said. "It'll be good fun and a great chance for me to get a feel of the new court. I am yet to find out who Greg's doubles partner will be but I'm ready for the challenge."
"I've heard great things about the new Centre Court, so I'm really honored to be playing at the Grand Opening," Henman said of the exhibition event in Birmingham. "Though Greg, Heather and I will be amongst the first to play on the new court, it's the matches that will follow that I'm most excited about. The Aegon Classic attracts some of the world's top female tennis players, including Heather of course, and I can't wait to see who will be battling it out on Centre Court for this year's title in Birmingham."
The new Centre Court is part of a £5 million investment by the LTA, the national governing body for UK tennis, into the Edgbaston Priory Club to provide a world class tournament venue for the players. The new facilities also include a six-court indoor tennis center and four new outside grass courts.
"We're delighted to mark the opening of the new Centre Court at the Edgbaston Priory Club by welcoming three of Britain's great champions," said the LTA's Lawrence Robertson. "Tim and Greg have served British Tennis so well over the years and we're delighted our newest champion, Heather, is joining them to mark this historic moment in the tournament's long history. It will be a great day."
Coming the week after the French Open, the Aegon Classic marks the swift transition from the clay court season to the grass court season, all leading up to the third Grand Slam of the year, Wimbledon. Birmingham has been a WTA stop since 1982, with Billie Jean King its inaugural champion - other winners since then include some of the WTA's greatest legends, including Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Maria Sharapova. Pam Shriver leads the all-time list with four titles in Birmingham.