Sports 101

The historic Wimbledon Championships, the only Grand Slam event played on grass, will begin Monday (on HBO) in England. Earlier this week, seedings (or rankings) were announced: Four-time champion and defending titlist Pete Sampras was seeded No. 1 among the men, while defending champ Martina Hingis was ranked No. 1 among the women in singles competition. The championship games last two weeks.

Q: How is seeding decided, and what purpose does it serve?

A: The seeding for each event is decided by the Seeding Committee and is designed to prevent the leading players from meeting one another in the early rounds.

Q: What is the process of getting into the Wimbledon Championships?

A: Players wishing to enter the championships must submit their entry on a special form, which must be submitted six weeks prior. The Committee of Management, with the assistance of the referee, uses computer ranking lists to determine which players will be admitted directly into the championships, those who have to qualify, and those who are rejected. About 500 entries, including juniors, are accepted. The qualifying competition takes place in the week before the championships in Roehampton, London.

Q: What do the championship events include?

A: Gentlemen's singles; ladies' singles; gentlemen's doubles; ladies' doubles; and mixed doubles. Plus there are four championship events for boys and girls 18 and younger.

Q: Who is the youngest champion at Wimbledon ever?

A: Martina Hingis of Switzerland. She won the ladies doubles championship in 1996 at age 15.

Q: How much money do the champions receive?

A: It varies from competition to competition, but in the gentlemen's singles game, the winner receives $435,000; the ladies are awarded $351,500. So there are discrepancies not only in the corporate world, but on the court as well. Besides money, each champion also receives an elegant trophy made of silver that is put on display for several months in the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum.

Q: This June looks to be one of the wettest on record in England. What happens when it rains?

A: The grass courts are covered on the referee's decision. The sooner the courts are covered, the less time is needed for them to dry out and resume play.

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