zaterdag 28 juni 2008

The Green Grass of Wimbledon

For me there are a few sportive moments every year that bring along some very excitement. Wimbledon is one of these. I love that tournament. The atmosphere, the elegance and the passion. Also most professionals when asked what their favourite Grand Slam is will answer: Wimbledon.

As a child I noticed that for once they weren't playing on gravel but on grass. So as soon as I got the opportunity I tried out myself what it felt like to hit a ball on grass. Gosh, rather hard. It seems like all the rules you have been taught about hitting against a yellow ball don't apply anymore. So my respect started to grow for those who managed to use their racket in an elegant way on a green surface. Me I had to face the truth: Wimbledon for dummies.

Steffi, Chris, Venus, Martina N, Martina H, Maria were some of the girls who managed to hold up that rather funny looking plate. The proof that they can beat the grass. Rodger, John, Pete, Boris, Ivan ans Björn they had white shirts covered with green spots but also that devine prize to give their cv some more color!!

At the time of John and Ivan my brother and I spend hours in front of the television to argue about balls in or out. And we ate strawberries with cream while watching the championschip point being hit. Every year again we seemed to look forward to that time that men and women dressed up in white played their very best game. I even cursied when I knew that the Duchess of Kent was present.

This year I am having a rather hard time. For the first time in long time I don't know who to cheer for. I am longing for that time that this tournament created new heroes. Once a name shows up that doesn't ring a bell I am relieved. So when Maria, dressed up and looking very posh, got hit by one of the rather unknown girl I was very excited. When an underdog has a lucky day and just seems to play on air and get all the balls where she wants them to end it is so nice to be a witness. You start to believe that when you really want something you can do it.

Wimbledon always can get under your skin. In one case it got very far. You could easily state that most tennisplayers will never hit anything else than a ball. Exceptions are the ones that have the urge to destroy theirs by throwing it away in all the directions of center court. But Wimbledon also seems to have a rahter bloody tale to tell.

Turns out that in 1907 one of their former winners commited a rather ghastly crime. An Irish lad called Leger Goold who won the title in 1897 ended up with a big debt and the only way out was killing. The body he hit in a trunk. For all the bloody details I suggest you check out The murderstory can be found under the catagory history. Worth while to read. Try to imagine Rodger or Andy (the English have to put their hopes on a Scotsman for the next few years) as murders!?

For the real diehards you can even find some information about the grass. Because people seem to complain more and more about the surface their idols play on. It seems that the courts are two percent slower. Eddie, the Wimbledon groundsman, seems to have a hard time defending himself and the grass. He blames the weather, tennisrackets and the players for that. Fortunately for him there is still the number one gentleman of the grasscourts: Rodger. He blames it on baseline where many more players spend their time. So I guess that we won't be albe to see an other Boris Becker rolling over the net after jumping after the great volley the opponent just sent over.

I might have to stop being rather nostalgic because Wimbledon will be able to stand time. It might change on the edges. The roof over center court will also banish an other typical image of Wimblon: green covered fields and tennisfans in raingear. But what can we do about it? Wimbledon is preparing for the Olympics of 2012. I just wonder one thing: will be that the year that you can win twice Wimbledon? I hope that by that time I have an other favourite player to cheer for.

Andy, Rodger, Santiago, Radik, Flavio,Nikolav, Roham will be the white knights who will try to entertain me in the years to come. Elena, Galina, Yanina, Georgie, Tiantian, Barbora and Jelena are a few of the ladies in white who will try to convince me that Wimbledon is here to stay and that grass can be more then a surface to play football, golf, hockey and rugby on. And when they fail I still can get my picnic basket out and get down there with strawberries and an old tennis magazine recalling the past!! Just let me be retired by then!!

Good luck white knights and ladies. I believe in you all but please be respectful for the grass!! And get some extra washing powder because I want to see you jump, crawl, make funny faces, curse, yell and run for miles on that lovely divine grass!! It deserves some respect!

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