Legendary tennis players, strawberries and cream and a trick shot artist can only mean one thing: Fortnum & Mason presents Tennis at the Palace
Quiet please. The inaugural Fortnum & Mason presents Tennis at the Palace is about to get into full swing as several of the sport’s legends lace up for a weekend of sporting entertainment.
From 12th to 14th March, Emirates Palace will become the backdrop for the first tennis competition of its kind in the capital. Fans of the game, and those wanting to experience a British garden party, will flock to the palace as tremendous food and competitive games are served up over three days.
Ex-pros will play in singles exhibition matches that start in the afternoon before breaking for tea. Play will recommence with doubles matches after the hour-long tea break before ending in the evening.
Let’s take a look at a few of the players making their way to the palace.
Tim Henman is arguably one of the best British tennis players to date with 15 career Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) titles. The Oxford-born ace – who was most recently in Abu Dhabi for the HSBC Golf Championship as a sports ambassador – will be making his way to the capital once again to play at the palace.
Renowned player Richard Krajicek is eagerly awaiting the tournament. Krajicek became the only Dutch man to win the men’s single championship at Wimbledon in 1996, when he beat Pete Sampras in the quarterfinals, the only time the American was defeated at Wimbledon between 1993 and 2000.
Krajicek achieved his highest world ranking when he became no. 4 in 1999.
Younes El Aynaoui
Straight from Doha is Moroccan Younes El Aynaoui, a five-time ATP Tour winner.
El Aynaoui turned pro in 1990 and saw his highest world ranking at no. 14 in 2003. Now retired and coaching the Doha Davis Cup team, he is raring to go for the Fortnum & Mason event.
“Tennis is my passion so I am always excited to play,” he explains. “This event with legendary players gives us the chance to play competitive tennis in front of a crowd, which is something we all love to do.
“The ex-professionals circuit is a great introduction to the sport if you haven’t seen tennis live because it contains more humour than ATP events. It is a really fun day out.”
Speaking of humour, Iranian born player Mansour Bahrami will add to the fun factor. The 58-year-old plays at invitational events where he wows crowds with his trick shots and slapstick comedy on court. He’s is the perfect addition to the event.
Cash will no doubt don his famed bandana this March, as he gets ready to take on the likes of Krajicek and Henman. Cash’s crowning moment in his career, apart from winning seven ATP singles titles and being ranked world no. 4, was winning Wimbledon in 1987.
Known for her serve and volley game, Jana Novotná is one of the female highlights of the event. The Czech, who once ranked world no. 2 for women’s singles and world no. 1 in women’s doubles, is a talent that must be seen.
France’s Marion Bartoli will also play. The 30-year-old has an unusual style, grasping the racquet with both hands for her backhand and forehand. Bartoli only retired from professional tennis in 2013 but went out on a high after winning the women’s singles championship in Wimbledon.
The match line-up for Friday and Saturday is still to be confirmed, but we can tell you that Thursday will see Navotná play Bartoli in a singles match followed by a mixed doubles with Cash and Krajicek.
Friday and Saturday will see a singles game played before tea and a doubles game after the break.
More cream, sir?
Fancy tea with your tennis? Thursday 12th is ladies evening where you can enjoy a classic afternoon tea party, presented by the London department store, Fortnum & Mason. Expect a selection of quintessential British sandwiches including coronation chicken, smoked salmon with lemon and dill butter and cucumber with mint butter. Of course no afternoon tea would be complete without homemade scones with clotted cream and preserves, cakes and pastries.
After the matches, dinner will be served at 8.30pm. Take your pick from a selection of hot and cold starters such as beef tartar and grilled scallops, live cooking stations including a burger bar and risotto station, as well as a selection of desserts such as orange crème brulee.
Fortnum’s Friday on 13th March kicks off with a gourmet buffet lunch at 1.30pm. A selection of hot and cold starters such as red pepper cheesecake and deep fried white asparagus, live cooking stations serving catch of the day and black pepper crusted rib eye, as well as a choice of desserts such as espresso and vanilla profiteroles or raspberry marbled cheesecake will fill you up for the first serve at 2.30pm. Afternoon tea will follow at 4.30pm, featuring the same menu as the ladies evening.
Fancy an ice cream to keep you cool? Fortnum & Mason will be giving out scoops of their gelato – with flavours such as mint chocolate.
Finals Day on Saturday 14th will follow the same times as the previous day and will also have an awards ceremony at 6pm.
Thu-Sat, times vary. Contact: 02 418 7545 www.tennisatthepalace.ae