Even for the best tennis players in the world, the days leading up to a Grand Slam can be filled with tension and stress, especially in the lead-up to the grandest of all, Wimbledon.
Finding a hitting partner, spending time on the limited practice courts available in tournaments, and making one last try to win a tour-level match at competitions in Eastbourne and Mallorca make the days go by. It can be blurry.
A handful of pros, including several clients of longtime agent Patricio Apey, will attend a traditional English garden party called Boodles, unlike any other event on the tennis calendar. You will spend several days like Gatsby in a mansion on the outskirts of London. It makes Wimbledon’s All England Club, the apotheosis of tennis grace, feel like a mass gathering in a local park.
I was driving this morning and it was a bit of a shock,” Italian rising star Lorenzo Musetti said of the 300-acre property. From 2021 its owner is Reliance Industries Limited, which is run by the Ambani family of India. That’s about $70 million. “You don’t see properties like this every day.”
Or a fine jewelry show disguised as a tennis event at a sprawling former country club called Stoke Park.
“It’s the best event we do all year round,” said Michael Wainwright, managing director of Boodles, a family-owned jewelery company based in Liverpool and London since 1880.
When Apey started Boodles 20 years ago, he never envisioned hosting a tennis event similar to a polo match. He only knew that players who won Wimbledon made more money than those who won other major tournaments. (The men’s and women’s singles champions at Wimbledon will each earn nearly $3 million this year).
He represented many players who were good on clay but not so good on grass. They struggled to adjust in the weeks between the French Open and Wimbledon, as they often lost early in the few tournaments available during the short grass-court season.
“I needed to give him more matches,” Apey said.
The only way to make that happen, he thought, was to host a grass court exhibition event near London ahead of Wimbledon. Stoke He Park was the perfect location with a 24-bedroom mansion, rolling golf course (tennis players love to relax on the golf course) and a tennis court with immaculate grass. .
Through an acquaintance, he met Wainwright and his brother Nicholas, who liked the idea. It was a soft-selling opportunity. While spending a summer afternoon sipping champagne and pimms in front of hundreds of top customers and thousands of upper tennis tiers (think pocket squares and long floral summer dresses), their jewelery to show off. Eat a kaiseki lunch, enjoy high tea, gaze at tented pavilions filled with shiny baubles, or play tennis in a small stadium under tall trees surrounded by perfectly manicured gardens. You can also.
Boodles sponsors another high-end sporting event, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, an equestrian race for the wealthy, but Wayne says women prefer tennis and horse races don’t have as much ‘dwell time’ as tennis. Mr Wright said.
In other words, given the fact that tennis has changeovers and breaks between sets and matches, and the match doesn’t really matter, the 10,000 patrons who come over the five days of a Boodles tennis event don’t have that. It means that you have enough time to read the content. A $2.9 million diamond ring, or a more affordable $80,000 necklace. A few Patek Philippe watches were also on display.
Boodles also hosted an evening gala on Wednesday night at its Stoke Park grounds for around 40 dignitaries. Wine and champagne flowed and jewelry was sold until the small hours of the morning.
For players, Boodles can provide an opportunity to unwind that is as valuable as a performance fee. Sebastian Korda and his coach Radek Stepanek joined Wainwright for a round of golf earlier in the week.
There is a spacious gym for the growing group of lifting enthusiasts on tour. Perhaps the most important moment was when he practiced calmly on the Stoke Park lawn before the Wimbledon chaos.
“This is an opportunity to work on some things,” said Korda, who played for Eastbourne the week before Wimbledon last year and lost in the opening match.
Croatia’s Borna Čoric, who has gone winless on two grass courts this year, said he arrived at Stoke Park feeling rushed and worried about his condition this week. Then he crawled into bed in a luxurious room.
“I slept the best I’ve had in weeks,” said Coric.