Wednesday, 24 June 2009

The highs and lows of SW19

A real mixed day down at Wimbledon. First, a high. Ana Ivanovic survived two match points to progress through to Round 2. And no, I don't run that blog, but it is awfully useful for an obsessive like me. I watched the game thanks to the BBC website, and Ana was utter shite. She won't be around much longer. At Wimbledon, I mean. I'm not planning to kill her.

Next, a low. I don't like using this word (actually, I do, I love it) but some cunt from the Mirror thought he'd try and provoke a reaction from defeated Brit Anne Keothavong. He got it, sadly, and he got his story. I have to wonder who organises these press conferences - if I was in charge, I would have interjected immediately, and told him to ask something else, or leave. Every professional wants to win - none of them lose deliberately, and to heap that much pressure on a young girl's shoulders straight after a defeat is unacceptable, in my opinion. She's done well this year, and she just had a bad game. By going out there and giving her all, the only person she would let down is herself. I hope the guy is satisfied.

Another low is that 6 British players got knocked out today. Don't blame them, blame the grass roots of the game on these shores. And remember that Tim Henman had his own tennis court, and parents rich enough to fund private coaching for him, Greg Rusedski is Canadian, and Andy Murray has grown up in Spain. I don't have time here to analyse what the tennis bods need to do to change things, but change is needed, no matter how many tournaments Murray wins.

Finally, I have to finish on another low. I'm calling you out Celina Hinchcliffe. Not just you, though, every journalist who has ever done this. Watch this video between 0:37 - 1:00. Make sure you notice Ana's eyes glaze over, her smile get a little forced, and her standard reponse to this question. Yes, she has a standard response to this question, because she's heard it 6.7m times before from journalists. Yes, she's gorgeous, and she has male attention. I know that. You know that. She knows that. We all fricking know it. So do you think you could stop asking her about it now?

As she has pointed out to every journalist a million times before, she think it's nice, "every girl likes a compliment", but she wants people to notice her for her achievements on a tennis court. God knows why, she's shit at the moment, but that's what she wants. If there's any sports journalists reading - if you get to interview Ana, please ask her what her favourite biscuit is. Or whether she likes the film Casablanca or not. Anything, apart from "How does it feel to be fit?"


  1. Sports journalism has been poisoned by celebrity 'journalism'. It's either fawning nonsense, pre-arranged rubbish with advisers, agents and sponsors breathing down the journo's neck, or aggressive idiocy derived from shouting personal questions outside film premieres.

  2. Completely insensitive question to be fair - British players are pressured enough at Wimbledon as it is without journalists suggesting they've let people down by not getting very far.

    The woeful state of British tennis is certainly something that needs addressing, and you're right in that its the grassroots that needs sorting out if we are to improve things. In my mind, whats needed is sustained investment in tennis coaching and academies, much like money is being put into grassroots football. The talent will almost always be out there - you can't tell me we aren't capable of finding a dozen tennis players who could one day compete at tour level. The problem at the moment is that such talented players are not getting the support they need from a young age to make it as pro players, and consequently only a handful even get anywhere near the level where they can enter the big competitions.

    If we see a sustained period of investment in tennis, I see no reason why we can't end up like Spain or France, with a dozen or so players in and around the top 200 in the world. I was watching Andy Roddick's match against the Frenchman Jeremey Chardy yesterday and I remember the commentator remarking how Chardy had been able to quietly move up the rankings due to the fact that theres so many Frenchmen in the top 100, and therefore he's been able to concentrate on developing his game without too much pressure. Only when we devote similar levels of investment to grassroots tennis will we move towards a situation where British players can progress at their own pace. Maybe then we won't have a ridicuolous situation where the media overhypes any talented or promising player (See Henman and Murray for the former, and Laura Robson for the latter) and where semi-decent players are made to feel bad for not quite being good enough to progress through grand slams.