Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams was booed by fans at the All England Club on Monday morning after showing up 10 minutes late for her fourth-round match. It was a surprising breach of etiquette by the staid British crowd, particularly because past winners like Venus are usually held in high regard.
Critics claimed the late arrival was a bit of gamesmanship on the part of Venus. The story goes that she was upset about getting put on Court 2 instead of one of the bigger venues like Centre Court or Court 1, so she took her time getting out there to prove a point. Venus gave a simpler explanation in the post-match interview:
"I didn't know the procedure for Court 2, so I was waiting on someone to get me. No one came. So eventually I just came out (laughter).
"You know, it was like, 'no one's here.' Then I saw everyone else leave. I thought, 'Okay, time to go.' Usually they come and say, 'Okay, let's go.' So ... I just figured, 'Let me go out'. So when I went out, security was waiting. Usually there's like a court escort kind of person, they come and get you."
That sounds reasonable enough except for the part about her not knowing the procedure for Court 2. Venus has played on the court twice thus far during Wimbledon, both times during the doubles tournament with her sister, Serena. Maybe someone didn't come for her, but it's doubtful she didn't know the routine.
[PHOTOS: See Venus Williams' style on the court]
If Venus was angry at playing at the 4,000-seat court, she shouldn't have been. Each of the eight women's matches were scheduled for early in the day on Monday owing to the fact that the quarterfinals begin Tuesday. Venus was relegated to the third court for the very logical reason that hers was the third-best match. Sister Serena played Maria Sharapova on Centre Court, and Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters battled it out on Court 1. Even Venus herself can't argue that her fourth-round match against Jarmila Groth was even close to as important as those two.
Venus won the match, 6-4, 7-6 (5).