Report: Ecclestone considered buying Wimbledon 20 years ago

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Formula 1 chief Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that he considered buying the Wimbledon tennis championships along with the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) back in the 1990s.

In a report broken by The Telegraph, it emerged that Ecclestone was approached by Russian billionaire Ion Tiriac to take over Wimbledon and run mens’ tennis when watching a game at the British venue 20 years ago.

“I was sitting here with Bernie Ecclestone, we were watching Goran Ivanisevic playing on No. 1 Court and there were three rain breaks,” Tiriac said at the Lawn Tennis Writers’ Association Awards earlier this week.

“[Ecclestone] said, ‘How much do you think Wimbledon makes?’ I said: ‘Maybe 50, 60 [million]’.

“He said: ‘We should buy it out, £600m, you and me. We can get a roof on the court in two months’.”

Ecclestone confirmed to The Telegraph that the story was indeed true, but that the buyout never came to fruition.

“At the time, we were looking to try and take over the ATP and run the tennis,” Ecclestone said.

“We were very serious. I don’t think in the end we made any sort of offer. We were looking to see if it was possible and how we would do it.

“Until we got everything lined up properly, we couldn’t make a bid. We needed to make sure all the other people were on board.”

Wimbledon did eventually get its centre court roof in 2009, whilst Ecclestone has been involved in sports outside of F1.

He was once a part-owner of English soccer club Queens Park Rangers, but sold his shares to former Caterham F1 Team owner Tony Fernandes back in 2011.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).