Unique Venue Adds To London Experience

Getty ImagesChampions Tennis was played at the historic Royal Albert Hall for the 21st time last week.

Tennis was first played at Royal Albert Hall in 1970, when Marty Riessen won the title at the Rothmans International Tournament. Forty-seven years later, fans at the event centre are still loving the sport.

They certainly enjoyed the show this week at the 21st edition of Champions Tennis, the final ATP Champions Tour event of the season.

Juan Carlos Ferrero may have walked away with the title — his second on the ATP Champions Tour this year — but all players, win or lose, had a blast in front of what was a great crowd.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Mark Philippoussis. “The atmosphere here, honestly it’s one of my favorite weeks of the year if not my favorite on that court. I really missed it, so I’m glad I’m back.”

Champions Tennis is the only annual sporting event held at Royal Albert Hall, something that everyone involved takes advantage of.

“You get in there and it just amazes me,” said Xavier Malisse, adding how important the fan support is. “They keep coming out and that’s the most important thing. They’re the reason why we play and without fans it’s not the same sport. Thank you always for coming out and [watching] a good week of tennis.”

Many tournament settings on the ATP Champions Tour stand out in their own right. But in London, players and fans experience a unique venue — known for its 20,000 square foot glazed-iron roof installed in 1869, which was used as a means of navigation for pilots during the World Wars — that can hold over 5,200 spectators.

“It’s a beautiful venue and great crowd, good supporters who understand their tennis a lot and get really into it,” said finalist Marat Safin. “The format is great as people can enjoy the tennis, walk around, have drinks and food. Its really fun for us.“

And while Ferrero was thrilled to capture the trophy this week, that was not all that he was excited about. Surrounding him were satisfied fans who cannot wait to come back next year for the 22nd edition of Champions Tennis knowing that some of the best tennis players in history will be ready to put on another show.

“It’s amazing here, the whole week," Ferrero said. "Everything has been perfect, even the singers that were in the show before the matches and also the people that came here!”


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