6 June 2019

Wimbledon's dramatic return to the past - and you could be there

This summer the All England Club is inviting you to go back in time for a unique immersive performance experience and relive one of the greatest Wimbledon finals of all time. We speak to the team behind the event and find out how Local Tennis Leagues players and friends can save an amazing 20% off the ticket price

You may have seen the film, you may have watched the match on television or you may even have been lucky enough to have been there, but we can guarantee you won't have experienced anything quite like the live recreation that the AELTC have in store for you later this month.

When Bjorn Borg met John McEnroe in the 1980 Wimbledon final it was a era-defining event. Since 1976, when he first won the Championships, Borg had dominated on the grass at Wimbledon but, just as flares and cheesecloth were giving way to drainpipes and and New Wave T-shirts, there was a new kid on the tennis block. If you don't recall what happened, perhaps we won't spoil it. Safe to say, the match was an epic and not until Nadal beat Federer at Wimbledon in 2008 was there a rival for best Wimbledon final ever.

These sort of sporting moments are the inspiration for the new company Rematch. "Our mission is to create immersive events around iconic sporting events, an experience where you travel back in time to iconic moments which transcended the sport itself into wider cultural significance," says co-founder Les Seddon-Brown who previously has brought music and live performance to the surfing festival, Boardmasters.

"Immersive events are in demand," he says. "People want more than just a theatrical performance. The audience is craving something deeper." What, thought Les and co-founder Richard Ayers, if they could bring to life moments like Roger Bannister's four minute mile or Ali's Rumble in the Jungle?

Borg and McEnroeWhile the All England Club, the people who bring us the Wimbledon Championships, is renowned for upholding tradition - woebetide the player who doesn't wear white - it is one of the most innovative organisations in tennis. For some years now a holograph of McEnroe has greeted visitors to the Wimbledon museum, so perhaps we shouldn't be so surprised to learn that when Les took his idea to the AELTC he was given an immediate thumbs up.

"They were looking for just this sort of experience. With an organisation with great heritage the audience grows with them. There always comes a moment when they want innovation and they are very good at knowing when that is."

The combination of the All England Club and Rematch's performance skills make this a genuinely unmissable event. Instead of simply watching a film, the Borg-Mcnroe match will be recreated as an immersive experience combining live performance with archive footage and interactive opportunities. The audience is encouraged to dress in the style of the era, adding to the atmosphere and the other great moments of the Championships of that year will be celebrated too including Evonne Goolagong’s surprise win over Chris Evert and the introduction of "Cyclops".

Wimbledon rematch 1980Save 20% on all ticket prices Use 


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"There is a mix of interactive installations that you can touch feel and play with a cast of  40 actors  all playing multiple roles. They will roam around the space and talk to the audience. All that happens over the first one or two hours of the performance. There are a couple of bars, and two main areas split between the Wimbledon areas and the wider 80s culture areas which celebrate the music and fashion of the time. There will be chance to play the video arcade games of the day and  we have included an 80s living room set complete with old VHS players," says Les.

The event leads up to a theatrical re-imaging of the final itself directed in such away as to reveal the character and drama behind the tennis. 

Rematch is a labour of love. Les himself admits to being steeped in tennis. His mother was for many years a veteran's Champion in Belgium and growing up in Romania in the Eighties by chance his next-door neighbour just happened to be Bjorn Borg. "I knew all about Borg from a very young age." 

Have the star protagonists been invited? "We have invited as many of the players as we can. Of course both Borg and McEnroe have many commitments but it would be wonderful to have them come down," says Les.

Adding to the innovative feel, this will be the first event to be staged at the new Troubadour Wimbledon Park Theatre (itself a re-imaging of a former television studio and long-time home to the X-Factor finals.) There will be four performances over three days, making it the perfect appetiser for this year's Championships.


Above, memories of 1980:  Finalists, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Evonne Goolagong and Chris Evert, Bob Marley - in London that summer - and the era of the Sony Walkman 

80s performance mapWimbledon Rematch 1980 is the AELTC’s first ever event outside the Championships in the UK and takes place across 4 separate sessions on Friday 28, Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 June 2019.

Evening sessions on Friday and Saturday start at 18.30pm and end at 23.00pm

Matinee sessions on Sat and Sun start at 12.30am and end at 17.30pm

Venue is the newly refurbished Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre, London.

Closest tube: Wembley Park Theatre.

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