Whhoooa! goes the cry from the crowd. Then applause, was that from court 6? Absorbing the atmosphere, anticipation grows.
Fri 7th July
Immersing myself in the full Wimbledon experience. An early start to the day with breakfast in Southfields village. Watching the growing numbers emerging from the tube station, in bursts as each train dispenses expectant spectators onto the street. Joining the throng for the walk to Wimbledon, my longer legs taking me past the majority ambling along. It’s very hot and sunny even at this early hour. The hat sellers are doing a brisk trade from driveways along the route.
Wimbledon comes into view, anticipation grows as I approach the gates. First a visit to Court Two; Kvitova vs Sasnovich. My watching learning points for today are serving action, footwork and wide stance. It helps that I don’t really mind who wins; makes it easier to concentrate on technique. Its a scrappy first set and I depart at its conclusion.
After wandering around the whole grounds, peeking in here and there, its time to regather energy for the afternoon. I find a quieter spot for tea and a couple of biscuits. This place demands standards and I am mindful not to slurp. The murmur of many voices merges into indistinct but clearly happy voices. The occasional ‘out!’ and ‘yeah!’ from officials and players respectively can be heard above the murmur. Whhoooa! goes the cry from the crowd. Then applause, was that from court 6? Absorbing the atmosphere, anticipation grows.
Nearby a man walks past with a tray of chips and what might be a burger, followed by another bearing two cups of coffee with lids. Plastic cups encouraged to be recycled but 50 50 is my guess to end up in the back of cupboards around the world.
Behind Court 5 two guys stop for a smoke, joined by a 3rd, their smoke drifting visibly behind them toward the court. They look out of place and a little awkward, in a boys behind the bike sheds kind of way.
Now for the main event. Friday on centre, it’s baking hot.
On court, Murray is doing his best to defy age, one last rage against time before surely he sits amongst us. The heat is not helping Murray as the crowd are after lunch drowsy. Unable to rouse themselves to the heights and fervour of the previous evening under the roof. Those in the sun using all their energies to fan themselves with whatever is to hand.
In the shade the crowd seems more lively. The man beside me is living every point, “oh no!” ” aagh!” and “we need this one” – for the moment at least, one with Murray and his team. Behind I hear, ‘come on, come on!’ At my other side more muted support, no less intense, analytical, gesturing with his hand to play that backhand himself. Elsewhere, shades on, leaning forward, elbows on knees, hands supporting chin, the coach within busily at work.
And together we are one, each in our own way wanting to help our Andy across the line. Being in the arena we are part of the event, a much richer experience than watching on tv. In the end it’s a magnificent fail. We stand and applaud in appreciation of the efforts of both players. Later on the highlights show, Henman of the hill, sums it up perfectly. “Murray didn’t lose this, Tsitsipas won it”
And I dream
Weds 19th July
I press enter for the MT700 British Masters Closed Grass Court Championships, over 60s singles and doubles. Dreaming, hoping, not expecting that I might make it onto the Wimbledon grass myself. A whole week to wait until the closing date.
And I dream