Strawberries and cream, Pimms O’ Clock, ball boys bedecked in Ralph Lauren – these are some of the quintessential Wimbledon images that we will miss this year with the cancellation of the 2020 Championships.
These next two weeks, when we were meant to be glued to our screens watching Claire Balding and Sue Barker’s titillating commentary, scenes of crowds doing the Mexican wave on Henman Hill and – oh yes – a bit of tennis, we will instead be reminiscing about the good old days when sport was still a spectator event.
Of course the cancellation of this year’s Championships is indeed trivial compared to the many lives lost during the pandemic and economic downpour forecast as a result. Nonetheless, for many avid tennis fans (myself included) this has been a big blow. As many of the other tennis lovers out there will agree, Wimbledon is our Mecca. For that fortnight all plans are cancelled whilst our eyes continuously ping-pong from one side of the TV to the other, following the ball as it is hit, sliced and smashed over the net. Some of us even sacrifice a full two days to camping outside the venues in the hope of watching, first hand, Nadal and Federer glide and pirouette around that perfectly manicured lawn, sweat dripping from their bandanas.
This year instead we must find solace in other forms. No longer may we chuckle at Kyrgios getting yet another racket violation for flinging the aforementioned at a ball boy and hurling abuse at lippy fans. No longer will half of West London’s middle class twenty-somethings sacrifice a holiday at Daddy’s Caribbean time share in order to scoop up a small fortune by selling overpriced merch. No longer will ‘serving for the Championship’ be announced by a starched umpire with an over-inflated ego.
Some may find respite in re-watching previous tennis matches on YouTube or flicking through tennis archives on Instagram. And yet there is hope of finding true respite – by picking up an actual tennis racket.
It must be puzzling to an outsider that most of tennis’s biggest fans are actually unable to hit a ball without it rolling into the net or taking off at supersonic speed and landing in the next court over. Yes we may be able to rattle off to you some of McEnroe’s most famous one liners or list in chronological order past Championship winners, yet most will play tennis as if they have two left hands (no offence to the left handers out there). With tennis courts being one of the few sports venues open to the public in lockdown many have been given the gift of time to crack the allusive sport that is tennis. Indeed, Playfinder (an online booking service for tennis courts) has seen a 65% increase in bookings. Whilst I cannot promise that you will become the next Andy Murray overnight, perhaps this opportunity will give you the chance to shift that ‘lockdown stone’ and find a new dimension to your love for the sport.
Image Rights: Wallpaper Flare