October 2, 2022

Open Court

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Wimbledon Flashback: The Black Bill Affair (2014)

WIMBLEDON – The return of the all-white fortnight brings us back to … 2014, when the black underside of a visor caused a whole lot of kerfuffle.

There are a couple of familiar faces in this little epic – both of whom gained a fair bit of notoriety later for far less humorous situations.

In the case of Peng Shuai, an international incident blew up shortly before the Beijing Winter Games, and remains unresolved even if the news of the day tends to predominate.

It was the first round of the 2014 Wimbledon ladies’ doubles, with the No. 1 seeds Peng and Hsieh Su-Wei (who had just won Roland Garros a few weeks before) playing Darya Jurak and Megan Moulton-Levy.

Arnaud Gabas (who later made a lot of headlines after having his orbital bone fractured by an errant but damaging swat of a young Denis Shapovalov’s racquet during Davis Cup) was the chair umpire.

Now, the rules are fairly clear about the meaning of “predominantly white” attire at Wimbledon.

That has to include visors, although they aren’t specifically mentioned (even if most of the women wear them).

So Hsieh wasn’t going to be allowed to play, if she didn’t swap out the adidas visor with the black underside.

Hsieh, who is notorious for wearing multiple different logos on her unsponsored tennis body, apparently didn’t have another legal visor to swap it with. Of any brand.

The supervisor was called out.

Much discussion ensued.

Here’s what it looked like, from your roving field-court reporter.

In the end Peng (who apparently did not have another visor with her, despite the big bags all players carry onto court – or didn’t want to give up a lucky one), was allowed to sprint all the way back to the locker room to get another one for Hsieh to wear.

They allowed her to do this, even if there might have been some time violations involved. And she did.

Finally, they played.

Peng and Hsieh won it, 6-2, 7-5. Eventually they lost in the quarterfinals to Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic. And by the end of the year, after they made the final of the WTA Finals, they split.

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