love: wimbledon


I don’t come from a sporting family. My dad loved Formula One, and didn’t think any sport worth watching that didn’t have a machine involved. My mum would get caught up in the pageantry of the odd World Cup or the Olympics, and my brother played and followed rugby. But we all paid attention to Wimbledon, and it was as much about the ritual as the game–although I’ve come to love the game, in all its elegant simplicity, much more in recent years. Although I know it’s statistically unlikely, I remember Wimbledon as happening in hot weather, sitting inside on the floor in front of the TV with the curtains closed, getting caught up what actually seemed to me to be drama, unlike any other sport that laid claim to that. When we were eleven, my best friend Lucy and I worshipped fifteen-year-old Jennifer Capriati and used her multiple earrings as evidence that we, too, should be allowed to get our ears pierced. I rooted for young players, good-looking players, flamboyant players, humble players, players who were polite to the ball kids and players who yelled at the umpire, players who threw their rackets to the ground and players who jumped in the air.

I never had a British player to root for, really–I know tennis players grow up, but Henman to me never quite outgrew  the petulant boy who whacked a tennis ball at a ball girl, and his sheer middle-England namby-pambyness and all the “Henman Hill” nonsense made me secretly happy when lumbering Sampras shellacked him every year. But this year… we were up at nine and it was over in straights that felt like they went to five sets. Well done, Andy – hope you are good and drunk somewhere right now, and you get to enjoy this for a little while, no matter how much you pretend you don’t (good Scottish lad that you are.) I’ll be catching up on the Guardian’s play-by-play… not quite ready to let it go for another year.