EDITOR’S NOTE: “Cross Court Coverage” of The Championship, Wimbledon returns Monday-Wednesday of this second week on ESPN platforms. From Thursday through the Championships, all the action is on ESPN, beginning each day with Breakfast at Wimbledon or “BAW” (7 a.m. on July 11-12 leading into the semifinals, 8 a.m. on July 13-14, previewing the Championships). Front Row asked assorted members of ESPN’s production staff who are new to covering the event at the All England Lawn and Tennis Club (AELTC) for their impressions from the first week.
LONDON – Wimbledon is the oldest and most tradition-bound of tennis’ Grand Slam events. And one of the most beautiful sports venues of any kind with its grounds meticulously maintained with an abundance of flowers, flora, and fauna.
Even veteran visitors – fans and TV crew alike – remain reverent when it comes to appreciating the event and all that is Wimbledon
But what is the first impression of those making their debut as part of ESPN’s extensive “first-ball-to-last-ball” coverage? Unanimously, it’s a combination of awe and respect. They know it’s a special place.
For associate producer Meghan Robinson, a nine-year ESPN veteran, the fortnight in London sees her producing pieces to be seen on Breakfast At Wimbledon.
“I am very excited to be here as this is definitely an awesome experience,” she says. “I appreciate and respect the prestige of the tournament. In addition, it’s absolutely beautiful. Ivy and flowers are everywhere. There is something peaceful about the All England Club.”
Julian Goldstick is also an associate producer on BAW.
“I’ve always had Wimbledon on my ‘bucket list,’ and I’m grateful to work such an iconic event. It’s a tennis fan’s dream to walk around and experience 18 courts,” Goldstick said. “I’d compare the early rounds to March Madness if all the games were played at the same venue.”
Brian Albon, the BAW director has made it to Wimbledon after 13 years with ESPN.
“Seeing this place on TV doesn’t do it justice,” Albon said. “Seeing how the guards open the gates and walk the crowd in is an amazing site. Taking in the grounds from atop the TV building is breathtaking, with a number of courts and Henman Hill in front of you and London off in the distance.
“This is already one of my very favorite remotes. Also, the people on the project are incredibly passionate and talented.”
Maya Bar-Lev has been with ESPN for less than a year.
The production assistant says, “Being at Wimbledon is a dream come true. The venue is incredibly beautiful and full of class.”
Content associate Jamie Heilbron has worked Wimbledon for ESPN International but from the Bristol, Conn., studios.
And he’s been to Wimbledon – but as a fan – twice.
This is his first work assignment at AELTC, helping with the six-screen interactive presentation on DirecTV.
“I love tennis, it’s my favorite sport,” he states. “It’s a privilege to be here. I remember the large crowds and noise being here as a fan. It was surreal to walk the grounds last week with almost no one around.”
Jackson Rioux, who has been with ESPN about two and a half years, is a content associate for BAW.
“When I first arrived I immediately realized Wimbledon is a special place,” Rioux said. “Walking around the grounds and sitting in an empty Centre Court really allowed me to feel the aura of Wimbledon.”
Second-year ESPN employee Meghan Black, a production assistant in event production, adds, “The Wimbledon venue is extraordinary. You can see the work that goes into its upkeep down to the smallest of details. It’s beautiful.
“Plus, the team is full of talented, creative thinkers that are so cohesive in all they do. I’m lucky to be part of it.”