I am rubbish at tennis, always have been, but I do love to watch it. Last year’s incredible final with Andy Murray’s long awaited win will forever be etched on my memory – I could hardly stand to watch and was in and out of the house, half sunbathing, half keeping check on the score. History was being made. Today it feels hard to believe we will see the like again for a very long time.
I don’t know if it’s because I went to school in Wimbledon and was subsequently a ballgirl at the Queen’s tournament (we followed a young Pat Cash around the grounds giggling and ate a lot of crisps) or if it’s because after visiting the SW19 tournament, and experiencing the glamour and excitement first hand, I caught the tennis bug.
Back in the day when you could gain entry to the All England Club using a ticket handed over by spectators leaving the ground, it was Chris Evert Lloyd and Stefan Edberg we went to see. They were the lookers – not difficult – and when once in a while they actually went on to win, the novelty value alone was worth the hike up the hill in our school uniform.
We adored Bjorn Borg for his quiet brilliance and lion-esque appearance and sniggered at John McEnroe with his inability to keep his cool, his frizzy hair and pale skin. I couldn’t help having a soft spot for Jimmy Connors; something about his ridiculously straight ‘one-style only’ hair and grumpy demeanour, (oh dear, suddenly I’m realising this might be my ‘thing’) and was secretly pleased that he’d stolen Chris Evert Lloyd from her boring transatlantic accented husband John Lloyd.
But mostly I loved Chrissy Evert (as she sensibly reverted to post inevitable divorce) because she looked so pretty. No matter how many sweltering finals she lost to Martina Navratilova, she won the fashion contest hands down. Not really the point I know, but surely a consolation? At the risk of sounding like John Inverdale, the minute Martina showed up on court in shorts and glasses, there was no competition. She may have been adhering to the ‘predominantly white’ rule, but they’re a traditional lot in Wimbledon and although it wasn’t well received the shorts became this record breaking champion’s signature look. The spandex catsuit that Anne White sported in 1985 however, only appeared the once. I mean really, can you imagine that much nylon worn that snugly in that many sweaty areas?
Does anyone remember the year Maria Sharapova actually won the tournament or do her outfits spring to mind far more easily? It isn’t a coincidence that she’s attractive of course but her more imaginative take on tennis whites are certainly what keep my (only vague) interest in her.
Despite Maria prematurely exiting the tournament this year, her boyfriend, the not very ugly Grigor Dimitrov, (who officially I’m sulking about because he’s just knocked out our Andy) is still in. Now I’m wondering a) will she be there to watch his semi final or might she still be moping? and b) if she does, what will she wear? Because after all, this is his big moment and she doesn’t want to be a distraction an’ all but if you are the girlfriend/wife in the players’ box then you will be looked at and you will be photographed doing any one or more of the following things:
4. throwing your hands up in despair
5. performing a Mexican wave.
It’s a minefield I tell you. This is why girlfriends and wives (let’s call them GAWs) historically sit very still behind their designer sunglasses. We only ever see them from the boobs up so they could be wearing the back half of a pantomime horse from the waist down for all we know, but one thing’s for sure, the hair is styled to perfection so not even the South West London weather can ruffle it. I personally couldn’t be a tennis GAW (although I smiled at Tim Henman once when he walked past me at my sister’s health club so I was as good as…) because I pull stupid faces constantly, my hair kinks up at the mere sight of the kettle boiling and I have to eat fattening foods during nerve-wracking matches – GAWS don’t eat EVER.
The arrival of the Williams sisters changed the look of women’s tennis forever with their extrovert on-court attire. The players have always worn good luck charms and hairbands but Serena is never seen without a full manicure and sister Venus wears dresses so clingy they leave little to the imagination. Far from restricting the players to a dull uniform of all white, the All England Club’s strict rules on the kit worn there seems to bring out the style mavericks. I love it! And look at all the Wimbledon inspired bits and pieces you can buy on the high street at the moment. Love the gear, no idea. Now where did I put my sunglasses?