Postcards from Wimbledon, No. 2: Game, SET, match

LONDON — One of the many steps to enhance and freshen ESPN’s Wimbledon presentation for the start of the new 12-year agreement as exclusive U.S. telecaster was replacing the set in Room 3 of the Broadcast Centre.

The new workload also necessitated the creation of a second set down the hall in Room 12. Enter Dan Cunningham and Noubar Stone of ESPN Creative Services. As the name implies, when there’s a need of something creative with a new set, they supply the services.

The result: What’s new is old, with the change from a modern look of dark wood with (Wimbledon) green accents to something that recalls a Victorian white veranda.

“We get involved in these projects at the very beginning, managing the creative from concept to design to the build,” Cunningham said after seeing his baby debut on air on Monday.

“We first met with Jamie Reynolds and others in Production in late 2011. He was looking for a new and fresh idea; the existing set had been in use since we first aired Wimbledon nine years ago. He also wanted more floor space in the room and to make the most of the priceless view of Court 18 out the window.”

Cunningham contracted two local London businesses whose attention to detail was amazing. Knifedge is a design company and Steel the Scene is a custom fabricator which created the bells on the barge Queen Elizabeth rode during the recent Jubilee Celebration on the Thames River.

“Everything out the window is green, so we brightened the inside while utilizing the décor to foster a strong sense of history that is inherent with Wimbledon,” Cunningham said.

“Our goal was to avoid the feeling of a television studio and convey the sense that the room is seamless with the historic venue in the background.”

The colored glass behind the desk was created specifically for the set. “We were thinking of using faux stained glass but they found a local artisan who was incredibly skilled and able to work within our budget,” he said.

Take a look at the set next time it’s on (or in the photos above) and you’ll see the vintage posters and racquets acquired to create that sense of history. Like football helmets on sets in Bristol, the racquets are changed from day to day.

They range from the sport’s earliest relics to more recent — but iconic — racquets, such as Jimmy Connors’ Wilson T2000, and models used by ESPN analysts John McEnroe, Chris Evert and current players such as the Williams Sisters and Roger Federer.

The new auxiliary set is smaller and continues the Victorian theme with tennis-themed bric-a-brac. “As the commentators conduct interviews, it will seem as if they are casually sitting on a veranda — complete with elegant rattan chairs from Italy — overlooking Court 14, a new look for our viewers,” Cunningham said.

Having been on site for two weeks for the construction and final touches, Cunningham, like a proud new father — relieved, if tired — happily summarized the months-long effort: “We’re quite pleased with the result.”

Postcard design by Crystal Cote.

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