Three cheers for Wimbledon fortnight — two weeks of top-flight tennis to entertain us. It’s day one and I’m loving it already. Well, most of it. There are a few down sides.
I’ll start with what’s great about it: l The sheer brilliance of the players. Year after year I’ve sat, riveted to the TV, through many a five-set match lasting well into the evening. I’m so hooked I even tune in for the highlights, to watch the action all over again.
l Wimbledon’s unique atmosphere, which hasn’t changed for as long as I can remember. Unlike other venues, the All England Club doesn’t plaster the court with garish, distracting adverts and huge TV screens. I’ve noticed that some tournaments even play pop music loudly during breaks, as if the event were some kind of circus.
l The all-white rule. Call me old-fashioned, but it is so much nicer to watch tennis when the players are wearing white. They all look so much nicer. However good they may be, no-one should have to watch tennis played by men in black socks, navy T-shirts and orange shorts.
l Gorgeous players — I wouldn’t swoon about any of the current crop of major seeds, but you never know when unknown hunks will surface. No-one will ever come close to Italian Adriano Panatta, who stole my heart as a teenager. I was so deeply lovestruck, especially when a little bird found its way onto the court and he gently picked it up and rescued it.
l Two weeks of tennis is a welcome relief from wall-to-wall football.
l It helps with domestic chores. I sort out finances, do the ironing and peel potatoes in front of Wimbledon. I’ve deliberately saved some clothing that needs to be mended for Wimbledon.
And what’s not so great?
l Grunting. For all their on-field displays of aggression, footballers don’t grunt. Neither do rugby players nor gymnasts. Weightlifters grunt, but that’s understandable. I wish they’d shut up.
l The Royals and their hangers-on — Pippa Middleton and the like — looking smug in their grace and favour seats in the Royal Box. Why should they always get the best view for free? Half of them probably hate it .
l Unsportsmanlike behaviour. I hate seeing players smash racquets when they are playing badly. Djokovic did this in the French Open. And players used to walk off together, but don’t tend to nowadays.
l Trying to watch a match amid pressure, and a great many loud bored-out-of-our-minds sighs, from my family — who, I’m sad to say, are not really into sport — to change channels.
l The deflated feeling you have after it is all over.