Over for another year

by Suw on July 6, 2003

Well, Wimbledon has drawn to a close, and I revert once again to my normal self, remaining happily ignorant of most sporting events, much to the relief of pretty much everyone about me.

Yesterday’s Women’s Final was a lacklustre affair. Venus Williams was carrying injuries that seriously impaired her ability to play; Serena was playing on autopilot. Neither were in top form and, although there were glimpses of what the match could have been with some strong rallies, it wasn’t the most riveting match I’ve ever seen.

I’d hoped for something a bit more exciting from the men today. From what I saw of the two semi-finals, with Philippoussis and Federer both seeing off their opponents with some very decisive tennis, I had thought that we would be in for a real treat.

Instead, we got a match with only two breaks of serve (Federer got both in the second set) and two tie-breaks. Mostly, games went with serves and although the tennis was good it was unexciting. Every now and again there’d be a big rally that would really get the adrenaline going, and which hinted at the kind of tennis we could have enjoyed if only the two players had managed to get really into top gear. Instead, we got a final which was pretty much devoid of that pant-wetting, rollercoaster of emotion and excitement that was evident earlier in the tournament.

In fact, the best bit of the whole match was Federer’s endearing show of emotion as he talked to Sue Barker in the on court interview after collecting his trophy. The first Swiss man to win Wimbledon – no wonder he was a bit overwhelmed.

The idiot sports journalists have delighted in slagging Henman off lately, which I think is absurd considering that he’s been in the top ten in the world for the last eight years. Is being one of the top ten tennis players worldwide not good enough for them? Is that somehow not an achievement? I think Tim’s done amazingly well, he’s by far our best player and he’s brought so much to the game, especially when you compare him to those that came before.

Even if Henman never wins Wimbledon (and I for one do not believe that the dream is over for him. He played great tennis this year – some of his best, I would say – and if he can keep the momentum going and can continue to improve then next year will be another real chance for him) the one thing that he does inject into proceedings, and the thing which was for me completely absent today, is a sense of excitement and involvement. I wanted Federer to win, but the tennis didn’t have me yelling at the telly, sitting on the edge of my seat, almost too excited to look, but too fearful to look away. Rather, I sat quietly and caught up with some of the New Scientists I haven’t read over the last few weeks.

There must be an awful lot of people out there who are like me. We watch Wimbledon every year, turn into rabid tennis fans for two weeks, then revert to type once it’s over. We wouldn’t do that without Tim, Greg and the other Brits who are coming up through the ranks. I certainly wouldn’t have got so excited over this year’s tournament if Tim hadn’t been in it. It doesn’t matter that I’m a fair-weather fan – what matters is that Tim and Wimbledon have the capability to draw in the fence-sitters like me, the excitement is enough to captivate and inspire us, and that is why Tim is so invaluable to the sport and deserves everyone’s respect.

Still, the crowds are all now leaving. Navratilova has won her 20th title in the mixed doubles playing with Leander Paes, equalling Billie Jean King's record. Jeremy Bates and Nick Fulwood have won the men’s over 35s doubles. The ball boys and girls will go back to normal life for another year. The courts will be given over to everyday use.

But in another 50 weeks, we’ll start the mania all over again. And it won’t come a week too soon.

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