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Novak Djokovic backs calls for Wimbledon women’s champion to open matches on Centre Court


Djokovic moved into the second round (Picture: AFP via Getty)

Novak Djokovic has offered his backing for the women’s champion to open play on Centre Court at Wimbledon in future years, breaking tradition at The Championships.

Defending men’s champion Djokovic, as is customary, walked out for the first match on Centre Court before defeating British wildcard Jack Draper in four sets.

Draper had held a set lead before Djokovic came roaring back in a 4-6 6-1 6-2 6-2 victory as he looks to win his third Wimbledon on the spin.

Simona Halep, the reigning women’s champion, would have opened play on Tuesday had she not withdrawn from the tournament with a calf issue but instead world No. 1 Ash Barty will kick off the action on the second day of play.

But Djokovic would be ‘in favour’ of those roles being reversed in future years, with the women’s champion opening the tournament and the men’s winner opening play on the second day instead.

Djokovic was the first player to walk onto Centre Court at this year’s tournament (Picture: AFP via Getty)

Asked if the women’s champion should have the honour of being the first player to walk out on Centre Court after winning the title, Djokovic replied: ‘Why not? Why not?

‘I’m not in the committee of Wimbledon, so I don’t make those decisions. My opinion, of course, in terms of decisions-making process doesn’t matter much.

‘But why not? Of course, that would be nice to see. They deserve it. I will be in favour for it.’

While Djokovic would like to see a change in that particular tradition, there are other aspects of classic Wimbledon that he does enjoy.

‘I feel like, yes, all white dress code is quite clean and elegant, looks really nice,’ said the world No. 1. ‘You also kind of feel privileged to be part of that tradition and history that kind of goes for a very long time. I’m not sure how many years, but really a long time.

‘It’s impressive that Wimbledon managed to maintain and nurture that tradition also of a defending champion going out on, so to say, virgin grass, no one playing on it before.

Tiafoe knocked out Tsitsipas (Picture: AFP via Getty)

‘There’s several other things I feel like. For example, the lack of advertisement, absence of advertisement, sorry, on the Centre Court is something that is really nice to see, honestly. I mean, we live in a very commercial world nowadays.

‘All the tournaments are obviously always looking to have as many sponsors as possible. But Wimbledon is refusing to give up their own tradition of keeping everything clean and focused on the players and on the tennis court. I find that very fascinating, considering the times in the world that we’re living in today.’

While Djokovic – who could face a rematch of the 2018 final against Kevin Anderson next – had no problem reaching round two, third seed Stefanos Tsitsiaps, who was beaten by Djokovic in the French Open final, became the biggest casualty on Day 1, losing in straight sets to Frances Tiafoe.

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