Squash: Wimbledon puts accent on mass appeal - Willstrop

Rafael Nadal wipes his brow in the Wimbledon Mens' Final  against Novak Djokovic. PIC: PA
Rafael Nadal wipes his brow in the Wimbledon Mens' Final against Novak Djokovic. PIC: PA
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Wimbledon fortnight seems to have captured the imagination of the public and press like never before; having not been in the country during the fortnight for the last four years, the BBC coverage appears to have gone into overdrive.

On arriving home one day last week I switched on to see a live doubles match at 7pm! Jeepers, what this squash player would give to see his sport get five minutes on the Beeb – 3am would suffice!

Even EastEnders made way for Sue Barker and the over-subscribed team of disparate commentators. And while we are on that particular subject, where have all the Americans come from? Are we paying too much for licence fees – can ESPN not afford their countrymen and women?

I wish they could because the last thing we need is more Americanised jargon, like when Maria Sharapova was described on the radio as “giving away too much real estate” in one of her matches (I think the commentator meant space but I couldn’t be sure).

Why is it that Americans have to have their own take, their own word, for everything? I thought listening to Boris Becker was stultifying enough.

So what is it that makes celebrities flock to the boxes, the punters camp in tents for nights at a time and the BBC cover the event as if their lives depended on it? Certainly not for the wealth of home talent you might say.

Maybe it’s the fact that the players do more posturing and posing than the celebrities themselves; there is the abhorrent grunting; the constant choreographed fist-pumping and looks to the entourage, the painfully-habitual towelling down after every rally despite not sweating; the bouncing of the ball (Novak Djokovic was bouncing the ball up to 17 times before serving in the final); or even Venus Williams’ dress.

Let’s not forget about the strawberries and cream and the pimms. There’s no wonder that kids on estates don’t play the game.

To be fair the attraction could be the tennis. This most cliched and British event is probably a big draw because of its personalities, especially on the men’s side.

At present the world’s top four are excellent examples of the role models that youngsters need and brilliant players to boot. they lose and win with grace, a rare thing.

Mind you, Rafael Nadal, pictured above, probably should be graceful in receiving a £650,000 runners-up cheque.

But hey, as the Americans say: “It’s not all about the money.”

Lee Beachill. Picture: SquashPics.com

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