Some time during the 2004 Summer Olympics, I became a tennis fan. The Mister played tennis in high school and did a few more “official” junior tournaments, up until the point he blew out his shoulder. (Turns out, it’s not a good idea for a 16-year-old to have a 120 mph serve without resting properly. Who knew?) Later, he would still watch tennis, and I’d half-pay attention, but I didn’t really know the rules or any of the players. Then, the afternoon when Olympic tennis was on in 2004, I got sucked in. Match after match, country after country – the rules started to make a bit more sense. I was invested. Since then, it’s become about the only sport I watch, which is something my American football-loving mother may never understand.
Now, I’m still only aware of the basics – how the whole game-set-match points system works, which tournaments have what playing surface, etc. – and since we no longer have the Tennis Channel (yes, it exists!) I pretty much only catch later rounds of the major tournaments on TV. I still pay attention to the tournament standings online (or in the newspaper, when they bother to print the results), but I don’t catch as much as I used to.
Still, Wimbledon is my favorite tournament. I’ll admit to being a hopeless Anglophile, so yes, its English grass court setting has something to do with that. Also, I’ve confessed to my love of white shirts before, so the all-white dress code appeals to me. There’s just something about it that makes me go, Mmmhmm. Is this a little shallow? Yes. Do I care? Nope.
Wimbledon began its opening rounds this week, making it a great lead-in to the London 2012 Olympics. Predictably, American James Blake is already out, as the man has habit of choking in larger tournaments. I always hope he’ll get his act together and do as well as he used to, but he also just became a father, and even World #1 Roger Federer had a bit of an off-time when his wife had twins. Ah, sleep deprivation. I do not treasure those memories. Andy Roddick’s still in, and he won the entire Queen’s Club tournament leading into Wimbledon.
However, I’m rather indifferent to my American brethren. They’re fine, and I wish them well in sort of a patriotic sense, but my support generally goes towards Spain’s Rafael Nadal and Scotland’s Andy Murray. Nadal is currently #2 in the world and just won himself another French Open. Dude is fast. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen him be about as far away from the ball as possible, yet he somehow manages to return the shot and score a point. It’s amazing. He’s…also nice to look at. Look at those arms. Yep.
Usually, I’m rooting for Nadal in most of the majors, but when it comes to Wimbledon, I want Andy Murray to get it. The poor guy gets so much pressure heaped upon him in the British press with, “Maybe this will be the year someone from here will win!” and he’s come close a few times, but hasn’t won the title yet. Fred Perry (he of the shirts) was the last UK resident to win the title, back in 1933. Maybe I’m biased (okay, I am), but I feel like they’re overdue, and Murray is an excellent player. If he managed it this year, between that and the Olympics, the UK might be drunk for the rest of the summer. Gotta make up for that Euro Cup loss, right?
Look, I know this is a lady site, and I feel guilty that I don’t have as much of an investment in women’s tennis. I watch it. I’m fond of Caroline Wozniacki, and some of Maria Sharapova’s court outfits are ridiculously awesome, but I don’t know why it’s not the same for me. I watch the women play for the sake of watching tennis, and it’s interesting, but I don’t particularly root for anyone. Same goes for watching doubles, if those actually make it onto TV.
So what about the rest of you? Any tennis fans reading? Who are you rooting for? Any English residents picnicking on Henman Hill? Let’s nerd-out in the comments.
In the meantime, I leave you with highlights from the best final, Wimbledon or otherwise: the 2008 match between Rafa and Federer. It is madness: