As NBC celebrates the 30th anniversary of "Breakfast at Wimbledon,” tennis fans can thank NBC executives who agreed to give up their Saturday morning cartoon block and a "bathroom emergency” for getting the tradition started.
Coverage begins at 8 a.m. Saturday with the Williams sisters battling for the women’s championship. Ted Robinson hosts the coverage, joined by analysts John McEnroe and Mary Carillo and reporter Jimmy Roberts. In 1979, NBC sports executive producer Don Ohlmeyer saw live coverage of the finals as opportunity to take advantage of the growing popularity of the sport with the emergence of stars like John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and Bjorn Borg. A young associate producer, Bob Basche, suggested that a 9 a.m. EDT start would be like having "Breakfast at Wimbledon” and the title stuck. Among the 1979 cartoons that fell to the wayside were "Yogi’s Space Race,” "Godzilla Power Hour” and "The New Fred and Barney Show.” The bathroom break was necessary because Wimbledon organizers had insisted the players walk onto the court at 8:50 a.m. and the first serve be at 9 a.m. With the broadcast scheduled for 9 a.m., this wouldn’t allow viewers to see the walk-on or, possibly, the first serve. NBC analyst Donald Dell, who also represented Roscoe Tanner, persuaded Tanner to delay in the locker room with a "bathroom emergency,” allowing NBC to get both players coming onto the court.