British Summer means two things: complaining about the weather and tennis.
Every summer, the British public retreat indoors for two weeks, away from the little bit of sunshine we are bless with, to watch people hit balls over a net for hours on end. And we love it (is that tennis pun?).
It’s Wimbledon season and suddenly everyone is a tennis expert. Who cares about the other fifty weeks of the year? When the world’s best player descend upon London, we are fixed to our screens, entranced by the ball going back and forth between grunting figures in all-white.
Hands up, I am guilty of this. Although I adore watching tennis, both on TV and in real life, I never actively seek out coverage or follow the world’s rankings. At the end of June, I get swept along by tennis fever along with everyone else and names that would be unknown to me usually are filling every conversation – Kerber, Raonic, Djokovic, Konta… Forget the football players raking in their millions, the players on the court steal the limelight.
Why do I get so caught up in this? Okay yes, I know that whenever there’s a big sporting event, it seems to sweep across the nation and everybody becomes a fan. Just look at the Olympics, the Six Nations, the World Cup… It’s hard not to want to be involved in the drama and the atmosphere to support your team with every other temporary fan.
But Wimbledon holds a special place in my heart that no other big sports event ever will. Be prepared, this is one of the rare occasions I will get soppy.
I can’t quite put my finger on it but tennis culture has this indescribable dignity that feels so stereotypically British. It’s the hush that falls over the crowd at important moments. It’s the head-to-toe white sports kit. It’s the shots of the spectators dressed like they’re going to a wedding rather than a match. It’s the presence of the royal family.
It almost makes you want to shout about how it’s all just ‘jolly good fun’, don a bowler hat and drink a cup of tea.
There’s also a personal connection I have to Wimbledon because on the day of the Men’s Final, my mum and I have started celebrating it by drinking Pimms, and eating finger sandwiches and, of course, strawberries and cream for dessert.
I love being able to share something like that with her and being able to spend time doing something completely and unashamedly indulgent together. There’s something to be said for tradition; it guarantees that you make time for each other amidst everything else.
Maybe that’s why I get so caught up in Wimbledon – because, to me, the big finale means something more than just who wins that year; it’s an excuse to be with one of my favourite people.
Or maybe it’s just the fruity booze.