Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Wimbledon, a British institution

It’s late June, and that only means one thing to the fine people of Britain: Will this be the year that Tim Henman finally wins Wimbledon?

Henman-fever really is something to see. It’s a combination of national pride and a desire to see the nice guy win. In some ways, it is not very British to be so ambitious and obvious to hope that this will be the year he'll do it. Every year, in the days leading up to Wimbledon, there are the inevitable stories and speculation: Will this be Tim’s year? And for the seven tournaments I’ve witnessed from these shores, the answer has been (sadly) No.

This year, however, there seems to be a lower temperature for Henman Fever. Either the fans have been disappointed enough times, or it’s a nod to the fact that Tim is in the twilight years of his tennis career, but there’s an up-and-coming British player, Andrew Murray, who is getting an equal amount of attention.

Murray won the U.S. Open Junior title last September, and he’s in Wimbledon on a wild card. (His mother, incidentally, taught tennis to my friend Gillian, who grew up in his hometown). It probably won’t be Andrew’s year, but I doubt, as much as I’d like to see it—that it’ll be Tim’s year either.

On a personal note, I find it funny that the torch is being passed from a Tim (my husband’s name) to an Andrew (my older son’s name).

Regardless, when Wimbledon is on it’s a great time of year to be in London. Strawberries are in season. It’s time to make Pimms on a regular basis. The BBC coverage—from dawn until nightfall—is unparalleled. I’d be in front of the telly all day watching tennis, if I could.

When we went to Wimbledon ourselves, in 1999 and again in 2000, we loved it. It was one of those wonderful moments in life when you take a minute, look around and think, “I’m really here! This is so cool!!” We ate strawberries. We studied the brackets. We saw some great tennis. I even caught an errant ball, which, to this day, I’m sorry I threw back to the ball boy.

Wimbledon is a great British institution. Be sure to eat strawberries and drink some Pimms while you watch it-- if you can. But most of all, enjoy it-- even if Tim doesn’t win.

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