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Jimmy counting on partner Mac

LONDON, JUNE 27. Former Wimbledon champion Jimmy Connors is pitching a proposal for a $one million doubles match that would include him, John McEnroe and Pete Sampras.

The most intriguing twist: Connors, 51, said he and long-time rival McEnroe, 45, would be partners. Teaming with Sampras would be someone ``from his generation or one guy from the younger generation that's playing today,'' Connors said.

McEnroe said he was interested, especially if the Sampras team is limited to one serve per point.

``Jimmy has proven that he has pretty much gone off the deep end by trying to put this match together,'' McEnroe said. ``I'm already off the deep by agreeing to consider doing it.''

Connors touted his plan in an interview with BBC TV. He said a hotel in Las Vegas is interested, and he hopes to schedule the match for next March or April.

``I'm counting on my partner McEnroe to cover a good part of the court for me,'' Connors said.

The partnership would be surprising, given the history of feuding between the two. ``We may not talk a whole lot,'' McEnroe said. ``But we'll try to get the job done while we're out there.''

Connors won seven Grand Slam titles, including Wimbledon in 1974 and 1982. He retired in 1992, played senior tennis for several years and then severed ties with the sport until recently. His last visit to Wimbledon was in 1992.

No. 1 fan: When the All England Club opens its gates on People's Sunday, 67-year-old Sylvia Lilley will be the first in line.

Lilley and her daughter were at the front of the queue on Saturday when Wimbledon organisers announced that rain had forced them to schedule matches on the middle Sunday for only the third time.

Fans will be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis. Lilley had been at the front of the line since 5 a.m. for tickets, thinking she would have to wait until Monday to get in.

``I don't mind sleeping rough if we can get tickets in the front row on Centre Court,'' said Lilley, who lives in Leicester, England.

On the first People's Sunday in 1991, Centre Court tickets cost $18. They'll be $64 now. ``That's inflation, I suppose,'' Lilley said.

Getting acquainted: Rain at Wimbledon gave the sports celebrities in the Royal Box plenty of time to get acquainted on Saturday.

Those on hand included U.S. Open golf champion Retief Goosen, golfer Ernie Els, nine-time Grand Slam champ Monica Seles, skater Jayne Torvill and Roger Bannister, the first 4-minute miler.

``They enjoyed meeting each other from different sports,'' All England Club member John Dunningham said. ``They had a lot to talk about.''

Can Taylor dent the Rod? Andy Roddick expects Taylor Dent to play better than the last time they met. Dent could hardly play worse.

Roddick beat him in straight sets, losing just four games in the third round at the Australian Open. Their rematch will come in the rain-delayed third round at Wimbledon. ``Australia at this point is pretty much a non-entity to me,'' Roddick said. ``He just had a terrible day. He just played horrible, and I played pretty well. I'm not expecting that. I'm expecting a very tough match.'' — AP

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