I am usually hard on the BBC because they were hard on me. However, I am absolutely loving the lead-up to the Ladies’ Singles final today at Wimbledon. The music, the VTs, the live shots and the pre-match interviews have all been fab-u-lous to quote Craig. Sue Barker’s anchoring the broadcast has been seamlessly bright, breezy and intelligent. She’s interviewing four of the best commentators and former champions Martina Navratilova, John McEnroe, Lindsey Davenport and Tracey Austin.
It must be very unnerving to walk out together onto Centre Court for Serena and Aggy. I am backing Aggy because she reminds me of my favourite player of all time Chris Evert. I adored Chris Evert. She was the most elegant and ruthless player of all time. Chris’s weapon was her return and her relentless shots in one corner until her opponent made an unforced error. Chris was and is such a pretty woman and it was heaven to see her at Wimbledon in 2012 as a commentator. Chris didn’t win as many Wimbledon titles as she should have because of one woman: Martina.
When I was a kid living in the only Spanish Hacienda in Sheffield called Casa Feliz, I recall watching an Evert/Navratilova final at Wimbledon. I had my own bedroom and en suite that both had locks on the door. My brother wanted to get in because I was whooping and cheering fit to burst. But I kept that door locked. He had a telly of his own and didn’t need to share the experience with me. I’ve never been a joiner.
Martina is such a fabulous human being. When she was playing her best and beating Chris every time at Wimbledon, I loathed the woman. She was too tough for me and too brutal a player. Looking at playbacks now, the technique with wooden rackets was like tickling the tennis ball compared to the heavy hitting from the baseline that dominates today. Wimbledon learnt to love Martina. I recall she talking to Sue about her waxwork at Madame Toussauds. She sent the wax modeller her bra so they got her vital statistics correct.
Martina has mellowed with age and is so much prettier now than she ever was at the top of her tennis game. She’s also a tryer and I admire that. She will do I’m A Celebrity and Dancing With The Stars just to challenge herself. Hell, she made a comeback at Wimbledon in the singles and the doubles and still won titles in her fifties. I also recall a player called Jennifer Capriati who was a Chris Evert protegee. She was so major and came back after a few desperate years of alcohol, drugs and shoplifting. I last saw her in Monaco for the Lauris Sport Awards. She was with her family, healthy and happy. Hope she still is.
But back to Chris and Martina. I read a book a few years ago called The Greatest Rivals that is the definitive book about sportswomen. It tells the tale of how Chris was Queen of the Courts and was subsequently hijacked by Martina. She came back by pumping iron and getting match tough. People always focus on Wimbledon but Chris Evert was the most successful player of all time at the French and US Open. It looks like Serena will destroy Aggie based on the first two games but let us all hope for a three setter.
Why incidentally does everyone and their Uncle Jack wear Hollywood blackout shades these days? I find it is hubris. I wear shades on my head rather in the spirit of Anne Boleyn’s French hood but rarely put them on unless I’ve had a particularly punishing evening on the Prosecco. Johnny Mac has just got it so right calling Aggy ‘crafty’. She’s an intelligent player and could find a way to defeat Serena. But I do have the feeling that this is Miss Williams’ year once again.
People are generally surprised that I like a sport. I like sport when it is single combat. Team games bore me to sobs as La Farmer would have it (frequently). Don’t you find the Williams family slightly bovine? The mother Oracine looks like Eddie Murphy in drag. The father is clearly insane but in the spirit of a court fool usually tells the truth and predicts the future. This is shaping up as the most fabulous Ladies’ Singles at Wimbledon since Chris and Martina played. Advantage Miss Williams.
It’s now time for me to take off the red shoes and relax to watch the match without distraction…not that you ever would be that darling. Until next time.