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Tale of the Wimbledon Trophy

July 13, 2000

Pete Sampras, newly re-crowned Wimbledon Champion for an amazing 7th time, is a great fan of the LA Lakers. In fact John Black, their director of public relations, is a long-time friend of Pete’s. He was invited, along with other friends of the champion, to enjoy the British Grand Slam and stayed in the house which Pete rents every year for The Championships. The morning after Sampras’ latest win on Centre Court, Black was woken by a phone call, telling him that the replica of the Wimbledon trophy (which is every winner’s to keep, in place of the real thing) was packed and ready for collection. As Sampras and his fiancée, the film actress Bridgette Wilson, had already boarded a plane bound for media appearances in New York, Black was glad to volunteer to convey the trophy to its rightful owner.

On the flight back to the US the woman seated next to Black struck up a conversation, excitedly relating how she had been at Wimbledon to witness Pete Sampras’ dramatic win. “The light was fading and we were so afraid the match wouldn’t finish that day”, she said. Thankfully for everyone there, except opponent Pat Rafter and his supporters, the American was able to raise his arms triumphantly in victory at 8.50 pm, as the gathering gloom was pierced by a thousand camera flashes. The lady went on to recount how many people in the crowd, herself included, had tears in their eyes, as the usually self-contained Sampras eagerly sought out his parents and fiancée among the cheering spectators. Having just broken Roy Emerson’s long-standing record of winning 12 Grand Slams, Sampras was overjoyed to share his most momentous victory with his mother, father and wife-to-be. For his part, Black was delighted to give his travelling companion the perfect ending to her sporting anecdote by telling her that he was temporarily in possession of Sampras’ trophy. To prove this, he retrieved it from his hand luggage and un-wrapped it for her and other passengers nearby to admire.

Relieved at getting the splendid replica safely to his home, Black lost no time in phoning Pete to tell him its whereabouts and request collection of the champion’s hard-earned silverware as soon as possible, explaining: “I’m now too nervous to go anywhere with it, for fear I’ll drop it or something”.

Several days later the trophy was still decorating Black’s living room. Perhaps he should have realised that his friend could bear to be parted from his newest prize for a little while longer. After all, save for the date and name of opponent, he had six identical trophies at home already!

Source: Bill Dwyre (LA Times)


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