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Anyone for Tennis? 7 Wimbledon Questions Answered

The Championships, Wimbledon are in full swing at London's All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. As Roger Federer and Venus Williams defend their singles titles at the only grass court Grand Slam tournament, we thought we'd answer some questions about the world's oldest tennis championship.

How long has Wimbledon been around?
The All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club hosted the first tournament in 1877. There was only a men's draw that year, and Spencer Gore bested a field of 22 players to win the first title. Two hundred spectators shelled out a shilling apiece to watch Gore triumph in the finals. In 1884 the tournament expanded to include men's doubles and ladies' singles. Maud Watson beat out twelve other women to claim the inaugural ladies' championship.

British players dominated Wimbledon early in its life; the first foreign champion didn't come along until American May Sutton won the ladies' championship in 1905. Since then, though, things haven't been quite so rosy. There hasn't been a British champion since Virginia Wade won the ladies' draw in 1977, and since then no other British player has even made the finals.

The professional tennis version Wimbledon that we know has really only been around since 1968, though, since the field was closed to professionals for 90 years. After decades of amateur competition, Wimbledon first allowed professional players in 1968, when Rod Laver and Billie Jean King won the singles' titles.

Why are the players wearing so much white?

Because they have to. The All England Club's dress code dictates that players have to wear predominantly white clothing throughout the tournament, a rule unique to the Wimbledon among its Grand Slam brethren. The rule has predictably been the cause for some consternation among players, notably a young Andre Agassi, who didn't like the suppression of his inimitable bright-colors-and-flowing-mullet style. Agassi went so far as to completely skip the tournament from 1988 to 1990, citing the dress code as part of his reason for anne-white.jpgstaying away, although pundits speculated his real hesitance had more to do with his game being ill-suited for grass courts.

Another dress code controversy sprung up last year when Tatiana Golovin took the court. Although her outfit was the prescribed white, she had on bright red underwear that showed on many shots. After a delay, the knickers were deemed short enough to be considered underwear and not part of her actual ensemble. American Anne White, on the other hand, didn't get so lucky at the 1985 Championships. She started a match in a stunning all-white lycra body suit. When the match was later stopped due to darkness, she was told to wear more appropriate threads for the next day; she lost the third set in her more traditional duds.

Who's been the most dominant at the Championships?
Hard to say for the gentlemen, although there are a lot of great choices. Roger Federer is gunning for his sixth straight title this year, which would break the Open-era Wimbledon record he currently shares with Bjorn Borg and tie the all-time record William Renshaw set between 1881 and 1886. For shear bulk, though, Federer will need two more titles to match Pete Sampras' record of seven career Wimbledon championships.

Things are a lot clearer on the ladies' side: Martina Navaratilova owned Wimbledon. Her nine singles titles are a record, as is her run of six straight between 1982 and 1987. Even more impressively, Navratilova added another seven ladies doubles titles and four mixed doubles titles. She was also ageless; her final mixed doubles title came in 2003, when she was 46 years old. Only Billie Jean King, who had six singles titles, 10 doubles titles, and four mixed wins can match Navratilova's 20 combined Wimbledon championships.

wimbledon-strawberries.jpgWhat should a spectator munch on?
Wimbledon's longtime favorite snack is strawberries and cream. In the tournament's early days, strawberries were a very limited seasonal item with availability that happened to coincide with annual tennis event. As the years passed, strawberries and cream became a treasured part of the fan experience. According to one estimate, each year tournament spectators chomp through 27,000 kilos of strawberries and 7,000 liters of cream. Like everything else at Wimbledon, the snack is steeped in tradition: according to the New York Times, the berries are of the Elsanta variety and are picked the day before they're served, and the accompanying cream must contain at least 48% butterfat.

What's the story on the trophies?
The men's trophy has been around since 1887; it's a silver gilt cup with pineapple on top. Its inscription isn't going to win any points for humility: "The All England Lawn Tennis Club Champion of the World." Each gentlemen's champion gets a 8-inch replica of the 18-inch trophy as a memento of his win.

The winner of the ladies' singles draw gets a sterling silver salver, or flat tray, that's known as the Venus Rosewater Dish. According to Wimbledon's website, the trophy, which has been awarded since 1886, depicts various scenes from mythology, including a large central figure of Temperance and an outer ring of Minerva overlooking the seven Liberal Arts. Ladies' champions receive a take-home replica of the Venus Rosewater Dish.

Of course, the champions don't just win this hardware; they also get cash. This year, both the singles champions will pick up 750,000 pounds for their efforts.

What are the words above the players' entrance to Centre Court?
Players take the court at the All England Club's most famous court beneath an excerpt from Rudyard Kipling's "If" that reads "If you can meet triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same"¦"

Do the players have to bow and curtsy to the Royal Box?
Not always. Until 2003, a rule required players to bow or curtsy to the royal family's box upon entering or leaving Centre Court. In 2003 the rule was modified so that players only had to bow or curtsy if the Queen or Prince Charles happened to be making an appearance in the box that day. That ruling effectively meant no bowing or curtsying; when the rule went into effect, the Queen and Prince Charles hadn't attended Wimbledon since 1977 and 1970, respectively. Interestingly, the rule was the brainchild of the president of the All England Club, who just happened to also be a member of the royal family, Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent.

Ethan Trex grew up idolizing Vince Coleman, and he kind of still does. Ethan co-writes Straight Cash, Homey, the Internet's undisputed top source for pictures of people in Ryan Leaf jerseys.
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10 Gorgeous Pilgrimage Sites You Need to See

By Steve Wiegand

1) Jagannatha

location: Puri, India
most frequented by: Hindus
Festivals are an important part of Hinduism, and Ratha Yatra is certainly one with a lot of pull "¦ and pulling.

The celebration takes place in June or July of each year in Puri, a city on the southeastern coast of India. Why Puri? It's home to the 12th-century Jagannatha temple and three roughhewn (and highly sacred) wooden statues. They represent Jagannatha, an incarnation of the Hindu Lord Krishna; his brother, Balarama; and his sister, Subhadra. Hindus believe that around 5,000 years ago, devotees of Krishna pulled the chariots of these three siblings to the family's nearby childhood home. Each year, as many as 1 million faithful visit the temple to re-enact the event, dragging the statues in giant chariots. And we do mean giant: The largest is 45 feet high and sports 16 wheels. Devout Hindus believe if they help transport the chariot bearing Jagannatha, they will be granted the opportunity to serve him in the spiritual world.
450px-Temple-Jagannath.jpgDuring Ratha Yatra, some of the more enthusiastic pullers have been known to deliberately throw themselves under the chariots' wheels. Fortunately, the frequency of this practice has waned in recent years, but the popularity of the festival certainly hasn't. In fact, those who can't make it to Puri for Ratha Yatra can participate in smaller versions in cities all over the world, from Kuala Lumpur to New Orleans.
And if you think Jagannatha bears significance for Hindus only, you're wrong. Turns out, the statue is credited with giving the English language the word "juggernaut." In the 17th century, British travelers returning from India brought back lurid (and highly exaggerated) tales of the festival in Puri, describing hordes of people being squashed by the chariots. "Juggernaut" is an Anglicization of Jagannatha, and the word has since come to mean "a massive, inexorable force that crushes everything in its path." That certainly describes a four-story-high chariot.

2) Cathedral of St. Mary of Zion

Ark_of_the_Covenant_church_in_Axum_Ethiopia.jpg

location: Aksum, Ethiopia
most frequented by: Ethiopian Orthodox
Anyone who's seen "Raiders of the Lost Ark" knows that the Ark of the Covenant is the chest containing the stone tablets on which the 10 Commandments were inscribed. Aside from that, you can forget all the other Indiana Jones nonsense. The most prominent story of the Ark comes from Ethiopian tradition. According to that legend, the biblical Queen of Sheba was actually Queen Makeda of Ethiopia. After adopting Mosaic laws for the Ethiopian people, she sent her son Menelik and members of his staff to steal the Ark and bring it to Aksum. There, ostensibly, it remains—housed in the Church of Saint Mary of Zion, a relatively modest 17th-century stone building. Who gets the honor of guarding the holy relic and, consequently, being the only human on Earth allowed to actually see the Ark? That job goes to an especially holy monk, who's tasked with the duty until death. In accordance with tradition, he names his successor with his dying words. So, if you want to know whether or not the Ark is really there, you'll have to take the guardian's word for it.
There are more than enough people, however, who don't need any visible proof. Every year, thousands of tourists and pilgrims visit Aksum, a small mountain town about 300 miles north of the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, to see the shrine protecting the Ark. Aksum is considered one of the holiest sites for followers of Ethiopian Orthodoxy, which counts itself among the oldest forms of Christianity.

3) Sri Harmandir Sahib

Golden_temple.jpg

location: Amritsar, India
most frequented by: Sikhs
Most Westerners know Sri Harmandir Sahib simply as "The Golden Temple," so named for its structures adorned with gold and gold paint. But to the world's roughly 20 million Sikhs, it's their religion's most sacred site. In fact, followers pray daily for a chance to visit the temple at least once during their lives.
Sri Harmandir Sahib is in Amritsar, a city about 240 miles north of New Delhi. Built in the late 16th century, the temple's impressive architecture was designed to represent the magnificence and strength of the Sikh people. Sikhism itself is an offshoot of Hinduism founded about 500 years ago by Guru Nanak, a government accountant who rejected both Hinduism and Islam.
The temple at Sri Harmandir Sahib occupies a small island in the middle of a pool and is connected to land by a marble causeway. Every year, it attracts millions of pilgrims. In 2004 alone, more than 2.5 million Sikhs visited The Golden Temple to take part in a five-day celebration marking its 400th anniversary. Sadly, however, the temple has also attracted its fair share of violence, including attacks and conquests by Mongol, Arab, Afghan, and British armies. Perhaps the most notable incident occurred in 1984. Sikh separatists, feeling oppressed by the Hindu-dominated Indian government and seeking an independent state, occupied the temple and refused to leave. When Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered soldiers and tanks to attack, more than 1,000 people were killed, and some of the buildings around the temple were badly damaged. Gandhi received scores of death threats and was assassinated a few months later by Sikh terrorists.

4) Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe

800px-Basilica_of_Our_Lady_of_Guadalupe_(new).JPG.jpg450px-Basilica_of_Our_Lady_of_Guadalupe_(old).JPG.jpg

location: Mexico City, Mexico
most frequented by: Roman Catholics
The story of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe begins on a frosty December day in 1531, only a decade after the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortéz toppled the Aztec empire. A 50-year-old Indian peasant named Juan Diego was trudging along between his village and modern-day Mexico City when he encountered the Virgin Mary, who told him to build a church on the site where they were standing. Not one to ignore an order from the mother of Christ, the peasant relayed the request to the local bishop. A bit suspicious of Diego's claim, the bishop demanded proof of Mary's request. In response, the Virgin (who conveniently appeared to Diego again) supplied the peasant with a bunch of roses in the dead of winter. Needless to say, the bishop was pretty impressed with the bouquet, but even more so by the likeness of Mary that was mysteriously imprinted on Diego's cloak, and a church was promptly built.
Today, the site houses the old Basilica as well as a newer one, and millions of Catholics travel the world for a chance to walk inside. Pilgrims praying to the Virgin Mary there have reported miraculous cures, particularly for alcoholism. (Why alcoholism? We have no idea.) Diego's cloak is also on display at the site, though it's an object of controversy. Scientists argue about the authenticity of his cloak, and historians quibble over the authenticity of Juan Diego himself—some doubting such a man ever existed. The arguments, however, had a hard time competing with former Pope John Paul II's stamp of approval. He visited the Basilica several times, and on a 2002 journey there, he made Juan Diego a saint.

5) Shatrunjaya Hill

youarehere..1171469520.shatrunjaya_temples.jpg

location: Palitana, India
most frequented by: Jains

Shatrunjaya Hill just might have been what Led Zeppelin had in mind when the band wrote "Stairway to Heaven." The site has no fewer than 3,950 steps—enough to make you think you can reach heaven (either by looking up or keeling over) by the time you actually get done climbing it.
Located in the western Indian city of Palitana, Shatrunjaya (or Satrunjaya) Hill is the primary pilgrimage destination for followers of Jainism and home to 863 temples dedicated to the Jain religion. Founded in India about the same time as Buddhism, Jainism teaches the path to spiritual purity through a life of discipline, austerity, and non-violence. In fact, this aversion to violence has led many among India's Jain community (which consists of about four million people) to shun most occupations outside of commerce and finance. Jains not only frown upon killing people, but animals as well. For that reason, none of the temples at Palitana contain ivory (since that would mean dead elephants) or even clay (since it contains dead insects and micro-organisms). Instead, they're constructed of marble, bronze, or stone. So if you're going, don't wear anything made of fur, leather, or any other part of a dead animal.
Oh, and about those steps up the Hill to the temples: It can take as long as three hours to climb up them, depending on your level of fitness. The elderly and ailing go up in a dholi, a small seat attached under a bamboo pole, carried by two men who take a few jouncing steps at a time. If ever an employee deserved a great tip, it would be one of these guys.

6) Destination: Sri Pada

sripada.jpglocation: Sri Lanka
most frequented by: Everyone! (It's multi-denominational)
Sri Pada is the only mountain in the world sacred to four major religious groups. Oddly enough, it also happens to be nestled in Sri Lanka, a country ravaged by civil war for the past 20-plus years.
Sri Pada is a modest, cone-shaped peak on an island in the Indian Ocean. At the top of the mountain, you'll find a 1,600-square-foot platform on which there's a depression the shape of a human foot—a very large foot, about 1 yard wide and nearly 2 yards long. (See how carefully we avoided measuring the foot in "feet?") Buddhists believe the footprint to be Buddha's. Hindus think it belongs to the god Shiva. Christians claim St. Thomas left it there before he ascended into heaven. Muslims believe Adam made it after he descended from heaven (hence the mountain's nickname, Adam's Peak).
Despite the ongoing civil war in Sri Lanka between the Sinhalese government and Tamil separatists, hundreds of thousands of travelers of all religious stripes make the pilgrimage up the mountain each year. The climb up Sri Pada, which can take three to four hours, is marked by crumbling steps, hundreds of colorful butterflies, lots of leeches in the surrounding forests, and tea houses for breaks along the way. In some places, there are iron chains to help out climbers who wish to pull themselves up. It's said that Alexander the Great left them behind when he visited the site in 324 BCE. There's no record regarding who Alexander believed created the footprint, but if we had to take a guess, we think he probably told people that it was his own.

7) Mecca

250px-Makkahi_mukarramah.jpglocation: Mecca, Saudi Arabia
most frequented by:
Muslims
A trip to Mecca isn't likely to be confused with anything but a pilgrimage. Located in a drab, sandy valley about 50 miles from the Red Sea (where summer temperatures can easily reach 115 F), it's hardly a vacation destination. Regardless, it's a must-see for followers of Islam "¦ and we do mean "must." Mecca is the birthplace of the Islamic prophet Mohammed and therefore the holiest city to Muslims. In fact, one of the religion's "Five Pillars" requires followers to attempt a hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, at least once during their lives if at all physically and financially possible. Not ones to take pillars lightly, more than 2.5 million devout Muslim pilgrims flock to the city each year.
The hajj takes place during Dhu'l-Hijja, the last month of the Muslim calendar year (which is based on lunar cycles, meaning the hajj dates change annually). While there, pilgrims follow a pattern of devotional duties. One such ritual involves circling the Ka'ba, a cube-shaped building said to be the first place Mohammad preached and the holiest shrine in Islam. In addition, pilgrimages include the ritual kissing of the Black Stone.
800px-Makkeh.jpgAlthough not a formal object of Islamic veneration, the Black Stone is believed to be a meteorite and is revered by pilgrims as a traditional symbol of Mecca. According to Muslim legend, it was originally a white stone given to Adam after he was expelled from Paradise, and since then, it's turned black from absorbing the sins of all those who have touched or kissed it.
Sadly, pilgrimages to Mecca are sometimes marred by tragedy. In 1990, a human stampede in an underground pathway resulted in nearly 1,500 deaths. And in 2004, another stampede killed 251 worshippers. More recently, cases of polio discovered in the city led health officials to fear a situation in which returning pilgrims could spread the disease around the world. But Mecca's potential dangers are less of a threat to non-Muslims. Members of all other religions are banned from the city to prevent its sanctity from being "polluted."

8) Western Wall

290px-Israel-Western_Wall.jpglocation: Jerusalem
most frequented by:
Jews
In Hebrew, it's known as ha-kotel ha-ma'aravi. In English, it's usually referred to as the Wailing Wall or the Western Wall. But whatever you call it, it's old "¦ as in 2,000 years old. The Wall is all that remains of Jerusalem's Second Temple. King Solomon built the First Temple around 960 BCE, but after the Babylonians destroyed it and expelled the Jews from the region, construction began on its replacement. The Second Temple's luck wasn't much better. In 70 CE, the Romans flattened it—all but the Western Wall. Some historians claim Emperor Titus left this small section standing to remind the Jews who was in charge. The Jewish faithful, however, choose to view it as God's way of showing them that He hasn't forgotten about their whole "chosen" pact.
Westerners, observing Jewish worshippers crying over the destruction of the temple, dubbed it the Wailing Wall. But the appellation belies the site's much greater religious significance. For Jews, the Wall symbolizes God's presence, which is why millions of people come from all over the world to pray before the structure and insert written prayers into its crevices.
Unfortunately, as in just about everything else in the Middle East, the Wailing Wall is a point of controversy between Muslims and Jews. That's because the site is also home to the Dome of the Rock, one of the holiest sites in the Islamic religion. Muslims believe it's where Mohammed ascended into heaven with the messenger archangel, Gabriel.

9) Mount Athos

800px-Athos_7.jpglocation: Greece
most frequented by: Eastern Orthodox
Depending on your views on gender equality, this one's either going to entice you or make you really, really angry. It's for men only. The Byzantine emperor Constantine IX officially banned women from Mt. Athos in 1045, but he didn't stop there. He also prohibited female animals and children, as well as eunuchs. These days, the eunuch ban isn't strictly enforced (how could it be?), and you might be able to find a hen or two walking around. The rule excluding women, though, is still very much in place, despite the ardent efforts of feminist groups, not to mention the European Union, to pressure the Greek government into lifting the ban.
800px-Stavronikita_Aug2006.jpgMt. Athos, a self-governed region on a peninsula in northeastern Greece, is the Rolls-Royce of meditation retreats. The 6,670-foot peak is populated by 20 monasteries sprinkled across dazzlingly beautiful marble cliffs and ancient evergreen forest. There, monks practice Heyschasm, a lifestyle in which followers seek hesychia, or "divine quietness," a practice common to the Eastern Orthodox Church. As for the religion itself, it arose after a split with the Church of Rome in 1054, largely due to questions concerning the authority of the pope.
To visit one of the monasteries, men must obtain permits in advance, and crowds are limited to 100 per day. Once there, serious contemplation and meditation are encouraged; gawking tourism is not. Visitors are allowed to eat and room with the monks, as well as participate in daily work routines. More than 350,000 men travel to Mt. Athos annually. In recent years, England's Prince Charles has been a regular visitor.

10) Destination: Bodh Gaya

450px-Mahabodhitemple.jpglocation: Bodh Gaya, India
most frequented by: Buddhists
For years, Siddhartha Gautama tried to find an end to human suffering through, well, human suffering. He nearly starved to death following a life of extreme self-denial. When that didn't work, he decided to try sitting under a tree and meditating. Luckily for him, after a few weeks, Gautama found Enlightenment—the understanding that suffering comes from desire—and thereafter became known as Buddha. Thus began one of the world's great religions.
In a nutshell, that's why an average of more than 2,000 people per day visit the small town in northeast India known as Bodh Gaya. For Buddhist pilgrims and tourists alike, there are two main attractions: the Mahabodhi Temple, a pyramid-shaped building first erected in the 3rd century BCE; and the Bodhi Tree, said to be a direct descendant of the tree under which Buddha attained Enlightenment.Buddhists regard Bodh Gaya as the first place Buddha began teaching his reap-what-you-sow idea of karma. Ironically, the city has the unsavory reputation as the center of one of the poorest and most lawless regions in India.

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Roz Savage: First Woman to Row Solo From California to Hawaii

Early on the morning of September 1, Roz Savage became the first woman to row, alone, from California to Hawaii. The voyage of 2,600 miles took her 99 days, 8 hours and 55 minutes. During the trip she was in surprisingly regular contact with the outside world, equipped with high-tech gear including a satellite phone, iPod loaded with audiobooks, water-proof speakers, video/still camera, and a solar panel rig to power everything (read more about the boat and the gear). In total, Savage packed a reported $80,000 of electronic equipment on the journey, which made it possible (at a cost of $1.50/min via the satellite phone) to update her blog, including photos and even videos, from the middle of the Pacific.

But the media coverage from her boat didn't end with text, photos, or even video. Savage managed to record forty podcasts (iTunes link) from the water as well. They're well worth a listen (despite the occasional satellite phone connection problems), and are sponsored by Audible (who also provided her with the audiobooks she listened to on the journey). It's an amazing thing being able to keep in touch, at least via this technological remove, with a person who's on a solo journey across the ocean.

Here are some highlights from Savage's blog:

Day 34: No Emergency Exit

Further to the watermaker issue, somebody suggested that maybe I should abandon my voyage. With apologies and all due respect to that person, this really made me smile.

As I said in the podcast yesterday morning, this is not like a big city marathon, where I could just decide, "Hey, this isn't going so well, maybe ocean rowing isn't the sport for me after all" - then pull over to the side, stop running, and catch a bus to the finish.

Abandonment of my voyage simply is not an option. ...

Day 89: A Watery Walkabout

I've come to regard my little rowboat as my own personal floating nun's cell - a place for quiet contemplation. (In fact my existence generally has been quite nun-like: Poverty and chastity are pretty easy out here - but I'm afraid obedience is not my strong suit, no matter where I am!) ...

Day 94: Fundamental Issues

I've been at sea for over 3 months now, and it's starting to take its toll on my body. I've been fortunate so far - but this week I've started to fall apart. Nothing major - fingernails lifting from fingers (apparently due to some fungal thing), aches in the back, sunburned skin - but worst of all is the saltwater rash. It may sound like a trivial complaint, but grown men have been reduced to tears and/or excessive use of painkillers by this undignified ailment. ...

Savage plans to continue to row around the world in two more legs, over the next two years. But for the moment, she's relaxing and healing up in Hawaii. Check out her website for tons of information on this truly amazing voyage!

(Image of Roz preparing to stow her oars in Hawaii courtesy of Roz Savage's SmugMug site.)

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