So, Wimbledon has been garnering rather more than its fair share of headlines over the past few weeks. I could fill plenty of time digging into the whys and wherefores of what has transpired here but will save that for another day. All you really need to know is that The All England Lawn Tennis Club (Wimbledon) is at loggerheads with the main two player bodies (WTA & ATP).
In light of the invasion of Ukraine, Wimbledon forbade any Russian players from competing in this year’s championship. In retaliation for this, both the WTA and ATP declared that no ranking points could be earned at the tournament by any player. This led to some players likening the tournament to nothing more than a glorified exhibition. Spoiler alert; if you were labouring under the misapprehension that I’d come up with an equitable solution to diffuse this whole situation, you are about to be disappointed. I struggle to resolve disputes as to whether pineapple should be allowed on pizza!
All this gets me hankering after the Wimbledon controversy of old. More specifically, the summer of 1981 when John McEnroe was making all the headlines. It was the first day of the championship and I was feeling poorly, so absent from school. Way back before satellite TV, having live sport to watch was a huge thrill. The time whizzed by when usually sick days seemed to drag on for an eternity. Who needs Pimms or strawberries & cream when you’ve got Jaffa Cakes and Vimto?
Anyway, back to John McEnroe. As many of you will already know, Big Mac took umbrage at a decision that one of his serves did not touch the line. He marched over to the umpire and proceeded to scream ‘you cannot be serious’ at the top of his voice. Obviously, as a nine year old, I considered this absolutely fantastic behaviour.
I decided to have a look back at the incident in question. It’s great footage and begs the question; why aren’t more players working the headband look? Of even more interest is the other insult hurled by McEnroe on that notorious day. ‘You are the pits of the world’. It’s a criminally-underused line in my opinion and I intend to bring it back into circulation. From this day on, if an errant shopping trolley refuses to obey my orders, I know exactly what I am going to say.
When I was younger, I was mystified as to why so many of the visitors seemed happy just to stroll around the entire complex when they could be glued to the elite-level sport taking place all around them.Of course now, I totally get it. Wimbledon looks fabulous. Every corner of the site is beautifully manicured with that timeless colour scheme of green and purple visible at every turn. For those wondering, it’s mainly Hydrangeas and Petunias providing the contrast to all that lush green grass and foliage. If you get a chance, take a look at the creeper-clad walls of centre court. It looks as much a living entity as it does a legendary sporting arena. Irrespective of whether you get access to any of the major show-courts, just being able to stroll through such beautiful surroundings, taking in the hum of the crowds, seems like a delightful prospect.
One last thing. If you do manage to catch some of the Wimbledon coverage this year, in particular the men’s final, pay close attention to the trophy itself. That oval object, proudly sitting upon the very top, is actually a pineapple.What’s more, nobody is entirely certain as to why it’s there. What can I be more certain of? Well, if it’s good enough for Wimbledon, it’s good enough for my pizzas too!
By Alan Smith 06 June 2022