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Berry good price or rip-off?

The price of strawberries is up at Wimbledon this year. But Wimbledon officials insist customers are getting good value for their money.

After holding the price at $2.55 a box, the caterers have increased it to $2.63. That price, they say, compares with $4 at Royal Ascot races, $4.16 at the Queen's Club tennis tournament and $4.24 at the Chelsea Flower Show.

But some Wimbledon fans expected the prices to fall.

"There's supposed to be a glut of strawberries in the country at the moment," said Gwen Cooke, from Reading, west of London.

"When I heard how much they were I nearly changed my mind about buying some," she said. "But, I suppose, there's a captive audience here because of the tradition."

Martina pulling for Boris

Martina Navratilova knows who she would like see to win the men's title at Wimbledon. And it's not fellow Americans Andre Agassi or Pete Sampras.

The nine-time women's titlist favors Boris Becker.

"I know Boris would dearly like to win Wimbledon again, and I think he could," said Navratilova. "I'd like to see him win anyway. I like his approach to life. He's a gentle human being."

Although Navratilova has retired as a singles player, she is here again in the women's doubles, teaming with Steffi Graf.

The left-hander has won seven women's doubles titles at Wimbledon, while Graf teamed up with Gabriela Sabatini to win in 1988.

No scalpers allowed

Wimbledon says it appears to be winning its annual battle against ticket scalpers.

Fewer than usual were seen around the grounds of the All England Club when the championships started, and tournament organizers said they had obtained injunctions against two agencies forbidding them from selling non-transferable tickets.

"The message seems to be getting through," Wimbledon spokeswoman Sue Youngman said.

Beer for Braasch

After his Centre Court loss to Sampras, Karsten Braasch was asked by a British tabloid reporter about his drinking habits.

"I'm not drinking more than anybody else here," the German replied. "I enjoy a beer in the evening while having dinner. It's not that it's something outrageous. It's just that I'm a normal person who sometimes likes to have a beer. It doesn't mean that I get pasted twice a week."

No long lunches

Wimbledon fans mourned the loss of their long lunches on the lawn where they once lolled in the sun. The tradition of lawn lunches fell victim to an improvement project that includes construction of a new Court One. Where once there was an expanse of grass, now there is a crater with cranes towering above.

No respect

Some of the doubles pairs are upset at continually being in the background, especially at the Grand Slam events.

"We're treated like second-class citizens," said Rick Leach, who has won doubles titles at Wimbledon and the Australian and U.S. Opens.

"You go to somewhere like the States and you usually get shuffled to an outside court unless you're playing one of the top singles guys."

Danie Visser, an Australian and U.S. Open doubles champion, can't see why doubles players don't get the same acclaim as singles stars.

"It bothers you that doubles isn't given the same attention as singles," Visser said. "It's more spectacular than singles."

Patrick Galbraith, seeded three at Wimbledon along with Canada's Grant Connell, has won 19 doubles titles in his career without making any major waves as a singles player.

"The only people who come and watch doubles are true tennis fans," Galbraith said. "Sports fans will look for names they know."

_TIMES WIRES

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