Monday, July 8, 2013 at 6:38 AM
Remarkably enough, though, Roger was/is not the story. For going into today’s final, all anyone in the media was reporting on or talking about was the prospect of his opponent Andy Murray becoming the first Briton to win this British Grand Slam since 1936 (a Cubs-like losing streak of 76 years).
Alas, like a good Brit, he gave it a good try but came up short, losing in four sets 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.
Never mind that, had he won, all of my Scottish friends would have prevailed upon me to point out that, even though Wimbledon is played at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Andy is in fact Scottish, not English.
(“Serena and Roger Triumph at Wimbledon, “ July 9, 2012)
Well, what a difference a year makes. In fact, after Andy avenged that crushing defeat by winning gold at the London Summer Olympics as well as top prize at the U.S. Open last year, everybody knew it was only a matter of time before he won this – the most prestigious of all four Grand Slams of Tennis.
And so it was that Andy (26) ended Britain’s long national humiliation by defeating the world’s reigning No. 1 player, Novak Djokovic (26), in straight sets (6-4, 7-5, 6-4) for this year’s Wimbledon championship.
Congratulations to Andy. You absolutely deserved this win, you played incredible tennis. Congratulations to his team. I know how much it means to them. I know how much it means to all of you guys and the whole country. Well done!
(ESPN, July 7, 2013)
Hell, I could not have said it better myself. Except that, given my sympathies with Scottish nationalists, I would have said “the whole Kingdom” – tongue firmly planted in cheek. After all, England and Scotland are still two separate countries.
Which compels me to raise two points of potential contention:
- Henman Hill
‘Henman Hill’ … is an area in the grounds of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club where, during the annual Wimbledon tennis championships, crowds of people without show court tickets can watch the tennis matches live on a giant Television screen at the side of No. 1 Court.
Tim Henman of course is the recently retired English player who never made Britain prouder than when he failed, heroically, to even make the Wimbledon finals, crashing out in the semifinals four times in his career (1998-99, 2001-02). And I suspect longsuffering Britons named this hill in his honor because they felt he had come as close to winning their national championship as any Briton ever would … in their lifetime.
But if the All England Club Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club really wants to honor Andy for making Britain truly proud, it should officially rename Henman Hill, Murray Hill – for the Brit who actually, finally won!
It’s only a matter of time before the English attempt to co-opt this Scotsman’s national pride by offering him a knighthood. Indeed, UK Prime Minister David Cameron – who watched this match with Scottish “First Minister’ Alex Salmon from the “royal box” – has already called for a day of national celebration as a first step down this well-trodden path.
But, if Andy wants to make his fellow Scots truly proud, he would make a public show of rejecting it.
Because it’s one thing for a Scotsman like Sean Connery to accept this monarchical honor (dressed in full Scottish kilt no less). After all, his claim to fame stems from playing an English spy (James Bond 007) on Her Majesty’s secret service. It’s quite another for one like Chris Hoy to accept it. After all, his claim to fame stems from his own heroics as an Olympic cyclist.
So shame on you, Sir Chris. Not least because even famous Englishmen like Stephen Hawking, Danny Boyle, and David Bowie had the presence of mind and enough self-respect to utterly reject offers of knighthood as the frivolous, ingratiating and self-sustaining trapping of a fairytale institution.
The Women’s Championship
After both Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams were upset in the early rounds, I lost all interest in the women’s draw. But it would be remiss of me not to note that Marion Bartoli (28) of France defeated Sabine Lisicki (23) of Germany in straight sets (6-1, 6-4) for the women’s championship.
Even though Bartoli made it through to the finals without losing a single set, sports analysts are all writing off her ultimate triumph as an upset. The only reason for this, though, is that they all crowned Lisicki, quite prematurely, as the new Steffi Graf after her stunning victory over Serena in the fourth round.
Apropos of which, it’s too bad most of the reporting on Marion’s win is about an English commentator speculating that her father must have told her that, because she is relatively short and fat (think the ugly duckling), she’d have to work twice as hard as someone like Maria – who is tall and thin (think the beautiful swan). Never mind that Marion’s brain - with its genius IQ of 175 that makes Einstein look like a dummy – will serve her well long after Tennis; whereas Sabine’s beauty will probably fade long before she retires.
I’m sure Venus and Serena fully expected to hear racist comments about their participation in this purportedly genteel sport. This might account for their reportedly antisocial (or guarded) disposition early in their careers. But I suspect Marion was not only surprised, but even crestfallen to hear such sexist comments about her participation.
Roger and Serena…
* This commentary was originally published yesterday, Sunday, at 6:18 pm