The Tennis Space: People of Influence:
Number 8: Philip Brook.
Sphere of influence: Centre Court, the All England Club, the Wimbledon Championships, the other slams.
There were signs last summer, during Brook’s first Championships as the chairman of the All England Club, that he likes a celebrity more than his predecessors ever did. Brook, and the All England Club, are not above filling the Royal Box with the Hello!-ocracy, the shiny people who will find themselves on screen during the changeovers and on the front pages of the next morning’s newspapers. But Brook is not about to turn the grass-court tournament into a light entertainment show. Far from it. There is serious work to be done, such as innovating while preserving Wimbledon’s traditions. Brook must decide whether Court No 1 should, like Centre Court, have a retractable roof to protect against the British summer. When Wimbledon innovate, it is usually not long before the other three slams try to emulate. The four slams are equal, but Wimbledon is more equal than the rest. Brook’s job is to ensure that it stays that way.
What next: Appointing a new chief executive after Ian Ritchie swapped a fuzzy ball for a funny-shaped ball, to take over at the Rugby Football Union. There is a busy summer ahead, with Wimbledon, and then Wimbledon Take Two (the Olympics). Brook must also respond to The Militants On The Lawn, the players who believe that they deserve a greater cut of revenue at Wimbledon.