There can never be too much of sport. Having said that, however, this European summer is especially abundant, brimming with sporting events. Even as the 16 remaining teams kick off the knockout stages of the Fifa World Cup later today in Russia, and the Indian cricket team gets ready for the English challenge (3 July onwards), the world’s best tennis players are congregating at SW19, in hope of seeing their names on the hallowed Wimbledon trophy.

The stage is set. The grass trimmed. Over 28,000kg of plump, fresh Kent strawberries ready to be shipped and 320,000 bottles of Pimm’s waiting to be opened. Sunita Sigtia, who claims to be Roger Federer’s biggest fan, and who has seen the Swiss master at work for a decade now, is on her way to her annual pilgrimage to SW19.

Making her way back to The Championships (2-15 July) after a maternity break is seven-time winner Serena Williams, posing a tough challenge to the defending champion Garbiñe Muguruza. In the men’s draw, Novak Djokovic will try to prove that he isn’t past his prime yet and Britain’s own Andy Murray will be looking to reclaim lost ranking points. There will also be other challengers to Federer’s throne—will it be Slam No.21 for him?

Sport today has become a competitive, cash-rich extravaganza where the world’s finest strive for fame and immortality. Half-a-century ago, the world of tennis was divided into professionals and amateurs, with money distinguishing one from the other—the latter played for passion, the former for a living. The romance of struggle, so common among amateurs in those days, continues even today: Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka and Murray are all returning after injury breaks, while a younger generation hopes to make its mark. And there is always Rafael Nadal.

In the 50th year of the Open era—in 1968, professional and amateur tennis players were allowed by Wimbledon to compete together for the first time—we shuttle between the past and the present in this special issue to see how the game has changed and how Wimbledon itself has evolved. We analyse the game’s biggest stars, reminisce about champions past and celebrate its followers. Of course, there’s something even for people who are not interested in sport—you can find out where the best athletes like to eat or how sport influences fashion.

By mid-July, both the World Cup and Wimbledon will be over. You would have watched over and over again the YouTube video of that mesmerizing Lionel Messi goal against Nigeria or Cristiano Ronaldo’s free kick against Spain, or whatever other moments the tournament throws up. The lush green lawns of Wimbledon would have turned into bald patches of brown. So we thought we would also take you on the long tour of Old Blighty where a young Indian team, under Virat Kohli’s leadership, will be chasing a Test series (1 August-7 September) win. Kohli himself is prepping to score those elusive runs in England after his miserable performance during the tour in 2014. India last won a Test series in England in 2007 (and lost heavily in the subsequent tours of 2011 and 2014). Wouldn’t a win be the icing on the cake for the Indian sports fan?

Arun Janardhan and Pradip Kumar Saha are the editors of Mint Lounge’s Wimbledon 2018 special edition.

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Top reads from the Wimbledon 2018 special edition:

QUIET! Genius at play: At 36, Roger Federer plays with a grace unmatched by any of his peers, the sheer artistry of his movements drawing comparisons to classical music, fencing and dance, and Andrea Iniesta. (read more)

When DD News ruined Goran Ivanisevic’s greatest: Goran Ivanisevic broke everyone’s heart by losing the Wimbledon final in 1992, but he left an impression with that instinctual serve. (read more)

50 years of the Open era: In 1968, with the beginning of the Open era, professional and amateur players could finally compete together. (read more)

Andy Murray and the state of British tennis: Andy Murray is unlikely to go too far at Wimbledon 2018, but his struggles highlight the lack of British options at SW19. (read more)

Novak Djokovic returns to play his symphony: Novak Djokovic’s career has gone off-track, but the Serbian can’t be written off yet as he tries to conquer the demons that hinder his progress. (read more)

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