Wimbledon rolls out the creche carpet for player families

Mon Jul 6, 2015 10:56am EDT
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - Bob Bryan, who along with his twin brother Mike makes up the world's top-ranked doubles team, hates being separated from his young family during long tournaments so finds the creche at Wimbledon a godsend.

"One week's tough, two weeks is brutal, three weeks I just won't do it, so I have to either travel back to Miami or bring them with me," Bryan, 37, said of playing away from home for extended periods.

Bringing along Micaela, 3 1/2, Bobby Jr, 1 1/2 and his wife Michelle, who is expecting the couple's third child, requires, by Bryan's reckoning, at least six months advance planning for flights and hotels, packing 12 bags and being sure there is a grocery store around the corner from wherever they stay.

But for Bryan, and a growing number of other tennis players who are bringing their children on the tour, it is worth it.

"We're ultra competitive and the losses still hurt, but it does ease the pain when you walk off the court and see two kids run at you and tackle you right outside the player lounge," Bryan said after a practice session at Wimbledon.

Wimbledon, like the other main championships, is bending over backwards to cater to tennis players like Bryan, who travel with their families -- and the uptake is noticeable.

On any given day, there may be a table at the players' restaurant with two or three young mothers, their toddlers and a helpful coterie of grandparents sitting alongside. Players with children can also be spotted taking their toddlers to drop them off at the creche that Wimbledon provides, free of charge.

This year Wimbledon inaugurated its renovated Aorangi Pavilion, at the far end of the complex, near the practice courts and in the shadow of Henman Hill/Murray Mound, as a facility 100 percent dedicated to players, having formerly been shared with stewards.   Continued...