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]’.
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.