Wimbledon press row racket drowns out racquets to the dismay of fans used to silence

Les Carpenter
Yahoo! Sports

WIMBLEDON, England – The meeting of Olympics against the pristine lawns of Wimbledon would not go smoothly Saturday afternoon. As soon as matches were done for the day, several fans surrounded volunteers working the press areas at Centre Court and shouted complaints about noise.

"You can't even hear the ball hit the racquet," one woman screamed.

They said this was because of the media sections specially built for the Olympics.

During the regular Wimbledon tournament in early summer, the media is kept in a quiet area and radio reporters are not permitted to broadcast updates to their stations unless they are doing it in a soundproof press room. The Olympics don't have such restrictions. This runs counter to the almost monk-like silence of Wimbledon crowds, long a trademark of the tournament that values tradition more than almost anything else.

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Because of the large crush of media covering the Olympics, special press areas called "tribunes" are erected in almost every venue. A sport as popular as tennis has an especially large tribune, which in the case of Centre Court, was built into the last several rows of the stands. The tribunes are essentially tables with electrical outlets and internet connections. They are not soundproof. And conversations from the tribunes wafted through the stands and toward the court.

During one especially loud radio update, Roger Federer stopped his serve to wait until the noise died down. Several times fans yelled "shhhhhhhhhhhhh" in the direction of the tribunes.

"Put them in a soundproof room!" a man screamed at one of the volunteers before storming off with his wife.

"We don't want to have all this blaring coming up in the back," said David Tam of London before he left the stadium.

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Tam had never been to Wimbledon before but he plays tennis and has long watched the regular Wimbledon tournament. Like many fans Saturday, he came to the stadium expecting silence and instead listened to radio reporters read off results updates in the middle of matches.

"They ought to be put in a cage," he shouted. "Why the heck are they out there?"

The besieged volunteers didn't know what to do. The tribunes were fairly empty Saturday. There will be days when the press contingent – and presumably the conversations and radio updates – will be much larger. The volunteers tried vainly to explain the difference between the Olympics and Wimbledon They suggested the fans file complaints at an information booth on the Wimbledon grounds.

Several in the growing group threw up their hands and stalked toward the exit.

"You know how that will work," Tam told the volunteer. "Nothing will change until the tournament is over."

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