What makes Wimbledon so special? It’s not just the grass, not just the quirkiness of its strangely antiquated rules, not just the booming serves, skidding players, plump strawberries. It’s all of those, of course, but at the heart of it, Wimbledon is special because it’s the Grand Slam that lends itself most to memories.

At a time when memory is as fleeting as a tweet, Wimbledon slows down time (but not the tennis, which is the fastest among all Slams). It doesn’t let you forget. Where else can the one-handed backhand still be a terrifying weapon and not a liability? It is a shot that has almost disappeared from the players’ repertoire, sacrificed at the shrine of power and speed. Yet, the man of the moment, Stan Wawrinka, uses it, and can extract great advantage from it on the slick, low-bounce atmosphere of grass. Roger Federer does so too as he keeps pushing for yet another, but now so elusive, Slam title. The one-handed backhand is the last remaining glimmer of tennis as it was once played; no wonder then, that the place where it thrives is Wimbledon.

Ahead of this year’s tournament, from 29 June-12 July, here’s our tribute to that grand old Slam. On the menu: Why this is the age of Serena Williams the ageless, making her claim to be the greatest of all time; and who, when asked once whether she feels old, said “Well, wisdom has served me well. I’ve worn my sunscreen, so I haven’t aged terribly. My knees are very tight, not saggy. So I’ll give myself an A+." Hail Serena.

We ask too if Kei Nishikori can become the great Asian star tennis needs, look at the end of the era of the “Big Four", and explore why coping with losing is far more important in tennis than the euphoria of winning. And of course, we dig into the past, with two of Wimbledon’s most special champions, two incredible people who will forever be a part of the tournament’s repository of memories: Goran Ivanisevic and Doris Hart.

Now all you need are strawberries.

Rudraneil Sengupta

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