Wimbledon qualifying no place for the faint-hearted
By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) - Red-faced from exertion, a pony-tailed tennis player with a German accent gestured angrily at her coach before marching through the door marked "Prize Money" into a green Portakabin.
Her hopes of playing at Wimbledon dashed for another year, she had not even made it to the All England Club.
The closest she had got to the hallowed lawns was a grass court three miles away, in Roehampton: the traditional venue for the qualifying tournament.
Each year, the leafy suburb host 96 women and 128 men seeking a main spot draw at the world's most prestigious tennis tournament.
For most, the road is a dead end, even if the 3,625 pounds ($5,692.70) for those who perish in the first round of qualifying offers a crumb of comfort.
But for 16 men and 12 women who survive three rounds, a chance to share the stage with the likes of Roger Federer and Serena Williams awaits.
On Monday they would vault into a heady world, where even a first-round loss is worth 29,000 pounds ($45,541.60).
No wonder the 16 immaculate Roehampton grass courts, lined up in claustrophobic rows with barely a couple of racquet lengths between them, resembled a tennis battleground this week. Continued...