As a child I hated Wimbledon. Why on earth were my parents glued to the TV when the weather was nice enough for the beach? But from the moment I picked up a racquet and discovered how hard it was to steer that ball between the white lines, I was hooked, and for most of my life Wimbledon fortnight has been an immovable feast during which the family have groaned ‘Oh no, Wimbledon again.’
I gave up playing the game after school, but started again in my forties, when I spent many a Friday evening slogging it out in Division 5b of the local ladies’ league. As darkness fell we were usually still out there, with aching legs and eyestrain, hoping a lucky net cord would put us all out of our misery.
The tennis might not have been great, but the will to win was intense, and so I understand how they felt tonight, Ferrer and Ancic, playing a tie-breaker at 9.15. I know how it was for the crowd too, the suspense of the game matched only by the worry that some referee would look at the gathering gloom and suspend play. But not tonight. Ancic got his man, and the crowd got more than its money’s worth.
In his interview Ancic looked pretty whacked. Still, he probably gets a day off tomorrow, and treatment from a professional masseur. Me? I had only a hot bath to look forward to and a trip round Sainsbury’s the following day.
For anyone who wants a bookish connection in all this, there’s a fantasy league tennis match going on between Dovegreyreader and Scott Pack’s team. (Having watched Ancic, think I’ll stick to the real thing).