Photo: Paul ZimmerAndy Murray (GBR)
Andy Murray and Venus Williams carried the Olympic Torch at Wimbledon on Monday as the countdown to the London 2012 Olympic Games nears its conclusion.
The Olympic Torch, which was lit in Greece, arrived in the UK on 18 May and immediately embarked on an 8,000-mile journey around the UK and Ireland, encompassing 1,000 cities, towns and villages in the 70 days leading up to the Games.
A very precise ritual for the lighting of the Flame is followed at every Games. It is lit from the sun's rays at the Temple of Hera in Olympia, in a traditional ceremony among the ruins of the home of the Ancient Games.
After a short relay around Greece, the Flame is handed over to the new host city at another ceremony in the Panathenaiko Stadium in Athens. The Flame is then delivered to the host country, where it is transferred from one torchbearer to another, spreading the message of peace, unity and friendship.
It ends its journey as the last torchbearer lights the cauldron at the opening ceremony in the Olympic Stadium, marking the official start of the Games. The Flame then stays lit until it is put out at the closing ceremony, signifying the end of the Games.
The Olympic Torch has been carried across the UK and Ireland by 8,000 torchbearers, ranging from celebrities and athletes to inspirational figures within communities. However, it is yet to be announced who or how the last torchbearer will light the cauldron.
British tennis player Elena Baltacha carried the torch in Kent last week, while wheelchair tennis player Peter Norfolk, who won the quad singles gold medal in Athens and Beijing, was a torchbearer in Liverpool.
On Monday, Murray had the honour of carrying the torch around Centre Court, which was his first visit back to the arena since his four-set loss to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final.
Williams, a five-time Wimbledon champion, also carried the torch at The All England Club. The American is a decorated Olympian with one singles and two doubles gold medals from Sydney 2000 and Beijing 2008.
Former British tennis player Sue Barker, who is now a sports broadcaster for the BBC, will be a torchbearer on Monday too. Barker won the Roland Garros title in 1976 and reached the semifinals at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
Tim Henman was the final torchbearer of the day, lighting the cauldron at Tooting Bec Common in the evening. Henman won a silver medal for Great Britain in doubles in Atlanta in 1996, teaming with Neil Broad.
For more information about the Torch Relay, including a full list of torchbearers and a map of the route it will take, visit: London2012.com