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Return of Wimbledon queue a welcome sight after two-year absence....Activation in Brooklyn to bring Wimbledon to U.S. fans from July 8-10....Petr Cech latest official to leave Chelsea

Wimbledon queue back for first time since '19

The "world's most famous queue began streaming into the All England Club on Monday" as the gates opened at the start of the 135th edition of the Wimbledon championships. The "quintessential English sight of thousands of tennis fans waiting patiently" to gain entry to the grounds has been missing since '19. COVID-19 "put paid to Wimbledon" in '20 and last year the queue "was scrapped on safety grounds as the tournament returned to semi-normality." Although "all that makes Wimbledon such a spectacle has returned," it is "not quite business as usual," as Roger Federer is "absent for the first time since winning the junior event" in '98 due to injury, and World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev is also missing after organizers banned Russian and Belarusian players (REUTERS, 6/27).

Overnight campers and early risers "were back in their thousands as the queue returned in full force to Wimbledon Park" over the weekend and into Monday morning. Those at the front of the day one queue began arriving early on Saturday evening -- "about 40 hours before the gates to the grounds opened" -- with the line officially beginning at 2pm BST on Sunday afternoon. Behind them, people from around the world "collected their queue card" and pitched up their tents (BBC, 6/27).

The London Times' Rick Broadbent celebrates the return of the queue under the headline, "No selfie sticks but lots of complimentary strawberries and camaraderie – the Wimbledon queue is back."

Wimbledon activation to recreate iconic hill in N.Y.

By Bret McCormick

Whereas United States Tennis Association marketing might be geared toward getting people to attend the U.S. Open, Wimbledon doesn’t have the room to accommodate more fans because of the already intense demand to attend the iconic, but smaller, London-based Grand Slam. So, its marketing has instead been more geared toward bringing Wimbledon to where fans are located. That thinking led to The Hill in New York, a Wimbledon activation running July 8-10 at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6, that seeks to recreate the iconic hill at Wimbledon.

“What physical experience could we create that’s specific to the U.S. audience that would be attractive to them?” said Wimbledon Communications and Marketing Director Alexandra Willis. Instead of just a watch party, "What if we made you feel like you were there by transporting the Hill, which has become this iconic fan destination."

Wimbledon has recently determined the event’s most important growth markets are the U.S., India, and, despite the recent geopolitical issues that have entangled pro tennis, China. The idea of transporting The Hill to the U.S. was born in-house at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, but Momentum Worldwide is helping bring it to life in New York.

Momentum works with the U.S. Open and Willis said Wimbledon was confident the agency would understand their tournament and the fans they were trying to reach in the U.S. Willis said there is also a digital, virtual version of The Hill, presented by American Express.

“Both of these two things are based on this idea that we need to be where audiences are in order to help them understand what Wimbledon is and ultimately drive deeper, more meaningful engagement,” she said.

Wimbledon sponsors American Express, IBM, Ralph Lauren, HSBC, Babolat, and Sipsmith are activating at The Hill in New York. Sipsmith was interested in growing its presence in New York, while some of the others are headquartered in New York. Sipsmith’s involvement falls under a newly created growth program to help the tournament and its sponsors expand their global presences. Willis mentioned there could easily be a version of The Hill in India or China in coming years.

“It’s something we hope could really be scalable,” she said.

Chelsea technical advisor Petr Cech announces exit

Petr Cech will leave his role as technical and performance advisor at Chelsea on June 30, becoming the latest exec to leave the club following the Todd Boehly-Clearlake takeover after the departures of Chair Bruce Buck and Director Marina Granovskaia. Cech: "It has been a huge privilege to perform this role at Chelsea for the past three years. With the club under new ownership, I feel now is the right time for me to step aside. I am pleased that the club is now in an excellent position with the new owners." Boehly was named chair and interim sporting director following the departures of Buck and Granovskaia last week. Chelsea is expected to engage Michael Edwards over their sporting director vacancy (SKY SPORTS, 6/27).

Cech's exit "puts even more responsibility" on the shoulders of Boehly. As well as Cech, Granovskaia and Buck, former CEO Guy Laurence and ex-head of goalkeeping Christophe Lollichon have left Chelsea this summer (London TELEGRAPH, 6/27).

F1 to introduce synthetic sustainable fuel in '26

F1 has developed a "synthetic sustainable fuel" to be introduced in '26 as part of its program to be net-zero carbon by '30. Synthetic fuels are manufactured by an industrial process and "emit in their burning only the carbon that was taken out of the atmosphere to make them." In F1, it will be used in new-generation hybrid engines from '26. F1 re-emphasized its "commitment to fully sustainable fuels in a statement on Monday" detailing its progress toward its net-zero goals. The statement "did not specify that the fuel it was developing was synthetic" -- as opposed to derived from bio-mass -- but a source confirmed that was the case (BBC, 6/27). F1 has made "several other steps towards its carbon neutral pledge, including remote broadcast operations to reduce freight." Last year's British Grand Prix was the first carbon-neutral broadcast production and F1 plans to deliver the same again at Silverstone this week (ESPN.com, 6/27).

Meanwhile, McLaren announced a strategic partnership with Neom, a government-backed smart city project in Saudi Arabia, that will serve as the title sponsor of its electric racing teams in Formula E and Extreme E. McLaren will make its debut in Formula E later this year after announcing in May that it had purchased Mercedes’ entry, having previously announced plans to race in Extreme E from '22. Neom has previously enjoyed a partnership with Mercedes’ FE team, and has been tipped as a future location for an FE race. McLaren's teams will be known as Neom McLaren Formula E Team and Neom McLaren Extreme E (MOTORSPORT.com, 6/27).

Optus Sport lands Aussie righs to LaLiga

Australia's Optus Sport has secured the exclusive broadcast rights to LaLiga in a multi-year deal. The agreement gives Optus Sport 380 matches per season from LaLiga, both live and on-demand, as well as select matches from the Spanish second division (LaLiga SmartBank), highlights, news and review programs. The Australian players currently in LaLiga include Real Sociedad K Maty Ryan and Cadiz F Awer Mabil. Optus Sport recently secured the exclusive Australian rights to Euro 2024 (MUMBRELLA, 6/27). Optus replaces beIN Sports as the Australian home of LaLiga. Neither the financial terms nor the duration of the deal were revealed. Optus Sport, which is owned by Optus, was founded in '16 and currently holds the Australian rights to the EPL (2PLAYBOOK, 6/27).

Newcastle names Noon.com sleeve partner

EPL side Newcastle named Middle East online shopping brand noon.com its sleeve partner for the '22-23 season. Newcastle said that the brand will be displayed on all kits for the new season (SHIELDS GAZETTE, 6/27). Noon.com is the Middle East's leading digital ecommerce platform for fashion, electronics, beauty, groceries, home and baby products, and supporters will be able to pre-order all '22-23 Newcastle United kits on noon.com with the option of personalization (Newcastle).

Short Takes

Two high-profile coaches are reportedly under investigation by the WTA Tour for engaging in "unprofessional, potentially abusive relationships with their players" (London TELEGRAPH, 6/26).

EPL side Bournemouth named betting company Dafabet its principal partner and front-of-shirt sponsor, replacing MSP Capital. The finance company will remain a club partner, with its branding to be featured on Bournemouth's trainingwear (BOURNEMOUTH ECHO, 6/25).

Spain will not be going to the 2023 Rugby World Cup after "failing in their bid to overturn their disqualification due to a breach in player eligibility laws" (London TELEGRAPH, 6/27).

League Championship side Watford canceled a friendly against the Qatar national team "after complaints from supporters' groups concerned about human rights." Watford was scheduled to face the World Cup hosts in Austria on July 10 (BBC, 6/27).

Sunday's State of Origin match between NSW Blues and Queensland Maroons in Perth was the most-watched State of Origin game since '19, with an average audience of more than 3 million on Nine (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 6/27).

Local property developer David Clowes has had his bid to buy League One side Derby County accepted, and he "hopes to complete the purchase on Wednesday." Clowes announced his intention to try to take the club out of administration on Friday after buying Pride Park from former club Owner Mel Morris (BBC, 6/26).

The All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club renewed its broadcast partnership for Wimbledon with Sport 24, the IMG-owned live sports channel for the airline and cruise line industries, until '24 (IMG).

Two years after making rugby history as the "first woman of Tongan descent appointed to a provincial union board," Timaru's Pauline-Jean Luyten "has done it again" with her appointment to the New Zealand Rugby Board as an emerging director (STUFF, 6/27)

What They're Saying

"At some stage, CA’s [Cricket Australia] got to let go of the reins a little bit. The ball’s got to start rolling sooner rather than later because the UAE’s going to come, other leagues are going to come, that Bangladesh Premier League was stealing players from us. If we’re not careful we’re going to be left behind" -- cricketer Usman Khawaja, calling for the privatization of Big Bash League franchises (THE AUSTRALIAN, 6/27).

"It's easy always to attack FIFA and UEFA, but the thing is simple. If you play less, you get less money. Who should complain are the factory workers who get €1,000 ($1,058) per month. Everyone wants more cup games, but nobody gives up on anything" -- UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, on EPL coaches Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola complaining about fixture congestion (London DAILY MIRROR, 6/25).

Matter Of Opinion

The N.Y. Times' Matthew Futterman laments that as Wimbledon begins, "an Era of Sports Free of Bans and Boycotts Ends." Futterman: "For decades, sports has avoided punishing athletes for the actions of their countries. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put an end to that." The London Times' Stuart Fraser: "Wimbledon: Glut of rich plotlines far outweighs controversy over lack of ranking points."

The London Telegraph's Jim White writes that BBC presenter Sue Barker's Wimbledon farewell reminds us of "the importance of having the time of your life."

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