Scaling stands started with Cash
LONDON -- The moment was fresh and spontaneous, definitely rebellious and wholly unorthodox. This was Wimbledon's Centre Court, and if there is a place in the sporting world more staid or revered, frankly, I don't want to see it.
Yet there was the new Wimbledon champion using the broadcast booth and, well, people's heads like his personal red carpet as he shouted "Outta my way" and proceeded to climb over bodies, seats and an awning en route to the waiting arms of his friends and family seated one tier above.
It was 1987, my first Wimbledon, and Australian Pat Cash climbing through the stands right below those of us sitting in the press section following his victory over Ivan Lendl was a moment I will remember as long as any match point or game-winning touchdown.
One year before, the movie "Crocodile Dundee" had been released with the climactic scene in which hero Mick Dundee, a croc wrangler played by Aussie actor Paul Hogan, can reach his true love's arms on a crowded subway platform only by walking on top of people's heads and hands.
The comparison was too good to be true. It was just great stuff at a place where even a rebel like Cash was expected to act like a gentleman.
As it turns out, they keep records of such things. Since Cash did it 26 years ago, four more men and six women -- in the words of the 2013 Wimbledon Compendium -- "scaled terraces to the Players' Match Seats Box to embrace their kin or supporters": Martina Navratilova (1990), Steffi Graf (1993, 1995), Jana Novotna (1998), Venus Williams (2000), Pete Sampras (2000), Goran Ivanisevic (2001), Lleyton Hewitt (2002), Maria Sharapova (2004), Amelie Mauresmo (2006) and Rafael Nadal (2008).
I'm no expert but I did see most of the climbs, and the addition to next year's compendium, 2013 women's champion Marion Bartoli, would have made the others proud when she scaled the stands Saturday after her straight-set victory over Sabine Lisicki for her first Grand Slam title.
That, too, was great stuff. But I'm still partial to Cash. You know, your first one and all ...