WIMBLEDON — Every year, Britons and visitors alike converge on the solstice to celebrate the convergence of the sun and Neolithic arrangement of carved rock at Stonehenge. That’s a relatively common occurrence compared with what’s happening with the convergence of Wimbledon tennis and England’s success in the World Cup.
England plays Croatia on Wednesday at 7 p.m. local time, when some men’s Wimbledon quarterfinals still could be underway.
Although England’s appearance in the World Cup semifinals is far rarer than the yearly ritual that is Wimbledon, many sports fans are trying to balance their passions for both events. When England defeated Sweden in the quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon, cheers could be heard across the grounds when England scored each of its two goals. Show courts were notably sparser during the game itself, and Wimbledon gave out plenty of the gold bracelets that allow ticket-holders to get back into the grounds.
Brits Dee Dutton and Craig Knowles had their tablets out and had connected with the Wi-Fi on the grounds. They found a shady spot near Court 16 on Saturday and were watching England’s quarterfinal with drinks in hand to support their Three Lions.
“We’ve come to Wimbledon to watch the tennis,” Dutton said, “but England is playing in the World Cup and that’s rare.”
Although technically watching the game on an iPad wasn’t allowed on the grounds, Wimbledon is bending the rules so that fans can watch World Cup on their phones. And it’s the only option, because public screens on the grounds will stick strictly to tennis.
“If they have it on silent or they’re listening in an earphone, then that’s fine,” said Wimbledon CEO Richard Lewis to assembled media, according to The (London) Guardian.
British player Kyle Edmunds, who lost on Saturday, was able to see bits of the World Cup match while preparing for his own on Centre Court that day against Novak Djokovic.
“England being in the semis of the World Cup doesn’t happen too often obviously,” Edmunds said. “It’s nice to see that. But, again, regardless of the result, you’re obviously here to play tennis, it’s the priority. I’m always going to be up for playing that match.”
The last time England reached a World Cup quarterfinal was 1990, and the last time the team won the Cup was in 1966.
Should England win, the final will be played at 4 p.m. on Sunday, likely starting while the men’s Wimbledon final is still underway with a 2 p.m. start. Some players, like perhaps Roger Federer, are wary of the narrative that the Cup is overshadowing the tennis.
“I’m more concerned the World Cup final will have issues because the Wimbledon final is going on,” Federer said wryly. “They’ll hear every point, ‘Wow, Love-15, 15-30.’ The players are going to look up in the crowd and not understand what’s going on at Wimbledon. That’s how important Wimbledon is to me and to us over here. Maybe you should ask the questions over in Russia, how they’re going to feel about Wimbledon being played at the same time.”