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Wimbledon From The Inside: Venus up close

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 14:14

And so, Wimbledon draws to close, in awfully familiar conditions. People are brandishing their brollies, huddling into their parkas and everyone, and everything looks decidedly damp. Funny how a wet, shivering crowd is fast becoming an iconic image at the world’s most prestigious mid-summer tennis event.

It is always warming to see the spirit of the Brits shining through though, as I shuffle (there are too many people for anything quicker than a moderate shuffle) through the throng, little old ladies giggle into their strawberries and smartly (albeit optimistically) dressed posh people in summer frocks and pale linen threads throw back the Pimms, refusing to let a bit of rain dampen their Wimbledon experience.

What actually impressed me most about Venus though was the size of her mouth when she yawned

The other day I got really lucky. I nipped round the grounds on a quick break, and was striding past one of the furthest flung outside courts. I saw someone lazily limbering up her tall Amazon-like frame unmistakably Williams-shaped.

Venus was preparing for a hit so I stopped a while. Word had clearly not got out yet as hardly anyone was watching. She is, without a shadow of a doubt, a truly awesome figure of physical perfection. What actually impressed me most though was the size of her mouth when she yawned.

It was tempting to try and lob a tennis ball in to see if she’d notice, and I think if I had it’d have simply disappeared. Either she’d just woken up or she’d had a pretty heavy night, judging by the cavernous yawns which came one after another.

Her coach bounced a practise ball tetchily up and down, clearly unimpressed at her delaying tactics she was making quite a meal out of limbering up, and the yawns were almost pitching her off balance. Quite amusing to watch.

On arrival back at the office a small American boy, aged about eight, was sitting in our office big, fat tears rolling down his grubby cheeks.

According to him, ‘Mummy doesn’t care about me and will have left without me’. Righto. No problem. No, real, er, problem. While a colleague rang around for the ‘lost child’ procedure, I had kept him chatting about the deck of ‘swap’ cards he was clutching and then had a brainwave.

I remembered the pack of paint-your-own gingerbread men which someone had ‘mistakenly’ been brought in on our shopping list one morning.

We spent quite a while decorating said gingerbread man and our little guy had an impressive amount of smarties welded onto him with syrupy sugar-paste. Went down a treat.

I then, shortly after, learned a valuable lesson: What can be worse than a lost child? A lost child on a major sugar rush is the answer. The e numbers kicked in, our little lost one’s spirits raised alarmingly, and before I knew it he was diving into the big cart of over-sized tennis balls asking if he could keep one.

I explained they unfortunately cost money and they weren’t free. It pained me to turn down his offer of 10p.

We found out the location for depositing lost children so I took him down, on the way we fortuitously bumped into his Mummy and a security guard. Me and my gingerbread man were long forgotten and the happy scene was relieving to see.

As I type, the British tennis world is happily still reeling from the wonderful surprise of a British champion. Laura Robson, hailed as ‘one to watch’ back when I organised junior tournaments, took the girls singles and it was an awesome display of maturity by the pretty young lass in the final against Noppawan Lertcheewakarn (easy for me to say, or not in actual fact) from Thailand.

An exciting prospect for future Wimbledons!

So, what with Laura taking home a trophy and Mr Murray’s encouraging Wimbledon, all in all I think we can count this one as ‘a pretty good year’.

I am always sad to see Wimbledon end, it’s a unique event which no-one involved can fail to be inspired by. I will, however, be happy to be reunited with the outside world and I can reassure my family I still exist.

And this, will DEFINITELY be my last year. Although that’s what I’ve been saying since about the year 2000.

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