Well, it was all gloriously chaotic in my house this evening, as I tried to keep up with Spain v Croatia going to extra time at the same time as I was watching Andy v Basilashvili, and my Sky Planner got completely confused when the BBC decided that Andy’s match should be moved to BBC 1 and EastEnders and Holby City should be moved to BBC 2. And then it somehow went to a 4th set and so it clashed with the whole of France v Switzerland, and everything got even more complicated, and now that’s going to extra time as well, after Switzerland equalised in the last minute, just as Andy was serving for the match for the fourth time … as if the first couple of days of a Grand Slam event aren’t complicated enough as it is, with so many matches going on at once. Pass the Pimm’s. And the vodka!
Isn’t it absolutely brilliant to be doing this again? Yes, we’ve had the other 3 Grand Slam events, even if the 2020 French Open was bizarrely played in October and the Aussie Open was moved to February, and we’ve had plenty of other tournaments too, but having a year without Wimbledon was tough.
I really wanted today to be a perfect day, but … well, Rafa had already pulled out injured, it rained, Jo Konta had to pull out because of the infernal virus rules, and Stef lost in the first round. Oh well, maybe perfection was asking a bit too much. But it’s back!
In 1989, I read a magazine article which described Wimbledon as “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. 32 years later, that still sticks in my mind.
If you ignore the Shakespearean connection, it sounds so gloriously romantic. And Wimbledon is. The grass courts. The white clothes. The Royal Box. There’s no other tournament like it. I’ve even got a Wimbledon song. Eternal Flame, by The Bangles. No, there’s no connection between that song and Wimbledon for anyone else. It’s just me. But it’s my Wimbledon song.
There’ve been a lot of “Wimbledon moments” in my life. There’ve been a lot of tennis moments generally. The US Open moments have often come in the wee small hours of the morning, and I never get much sleep during the Australian Open either. And I’ve got this weird tradition of going to Blackpool on the morning of the French Open men’s singles title. I once rushed back from London on a Sunday morning to watch the Monte Carlo final. I once sat in a hotel room in America watching Indian Wells. In fact, I once spent an entire afternoon sat in a hotel room in Blackpool watching Wimbledon, apart from the bit when I walked out in tears before it was going wrong. I went back in a few minutes later. The match turned round. It all ended happily. I did tell Mum and Dad that it was a stupid choice of date for a weekend away. And I even nearly missed a flight home from Tel Aviv because I was watching Rafa v Roger in my hotel room (Rafa won).
I do things like this all the time. But Wimbledon is special. And the fact that the evil virus forced Wimbledon to be cancelled for the first time since the Second World War really seemed to say a lot about last year. It’s … well, I think it’s the most important part of the British summer. And we’re going to be missing a lot of things about summer for a second year in a row, thanks to the evil virus. Holidays abroad are pretty much off the cards. Music festivals won’t be happening. A lot of people’s wedding plans have been mucked up. But Wimbledon’s back. And if, please, we could have a wonderful, wonderful tournament, to cheer us all up … ? Sascha, Daniil, one of you … come on, could this be your year? Oh, and if England could win Euro 2020 …
2020 was The Year Without Wimbledon. Let’s hope that there’s never another. One year without Wimbledon was quite enough.