Am I the only person who isn’t watching Wimbledon?
It may be the world’s greatest tennis tournament but I couldn’t care less about Andy Murray’s quest to win the men’s title again.
The two-week championships were ruined for me when I covered them as an Evening Standard news reporter. Instead of watching matches that kept me on the edge of my seat I regularly spent Wimbledon fortnight chasing news stories. The sillier they were, the more column inches you got in the paper. One year an American player called Anne White dominated the front pages of the tabloids for days on end. Not for her serving prowess or her backhand skill, but because instead of wearing a modest white dress she wowed the crowds in a skin-tight white cat-suit. I thought it was rather chic but the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club were not at all impressed.
When nothing much else was happening, the press pack would resort to writing about old favourites like royal visitors, ticket touts, corporate hospitality (yawn), rain (this was before that swanky new sliding roof) and the price of a punnet of strawberries. With sizzling temperatures right now, I don’t think anyone’s going to be writing about rain this year.
The rule back then was that if three or more journalists requested a post-match interview with a player the tennis stars had to talk to us. They’d pitch up at an unprepossessing bunker beneath the Centre Court and while the hacks from the red tops quizzed the players about their sex lives, the more serious-minded American press retaliated with questions about why they’d hit a volley at break point in the third set.
After four or five years of this I was so exasperated with the game that I pleaded for a change of scene and got switched to covering a murder trial at the Old Bailey instead. I’ve never watched a single Wimbledon match from that day to this – and I don’t intend to this time round. The rest of the country may be glued to action on the Centre Court, but count me out.