LONDON—How can tennis make the front page? It’s very simple: Find a way to bring the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge—you know them as Kate and Wills—out to watch every match. The royal couple graces the covers of virtually all of the London papers this morning, and for a few hours Wimbledon has a new, youthful cache. Now what are the chances we can get them to the Regions Morgan Keegan Classic in Memphis in February . . .
The Telegraph leads with the couple doing the Wave—called, for some reason, the Mexican Wave. Kate looks good, and William is a little goony, but he’s being a good sport. Right behind them is Billie Jean King in pearls and a black T-shirt. Not completely sure about that fashion choice for the Royal Box.
—The paper follows later with a Q and A with Boris Becker, under this headline:
I’M NOT YOUR CHILDREN’S FATHER . . . AM I?
Becker is a BBC Wimbledon commentator (a sample of his analysis from yesterday: “there’s another backhand winner from del Potro”) and one of the past champions, like Pat Cash and John McEnroe, whom the country has adopted in lieu of a winner of its own. He shows up six hours late to the interview. Asked about athletes’ cheating ways, Becker starchily maintains that sports stars are no more prone to straying than anyone else, they just have more “opportunity.” He asks the female interviewer if she knows where her husband is at that moment. She says yes, he’s picking up the children, she knows where he is.
“Ah, maybe this afternoon,” Becker sagely retorts, “but where is he all the time? What about those 15 minutes between appointments? That’s enough time for an affair!”
—OK, enough with the past. It’s time for the next chapter in the Andy Murray saga, and the Telegraph wastes no time getting it started with this headline:
"DEMOLITION MAN: Murray destroys Gasquet (and sets up clash with his mum’s favorite pin-up)"
Following this are three of Judy Murray’s tweets concerning “Deliciano” Lopez, including this one: “It’s a Felifest at Wimbledon tmrw. Twice in one day. Too much. Way too much.”
Is Judy Murray a bit much? Or is she a breath of fresh, unstuffy air through the stuffy confines of tennis? I like her fierceness, and she did make an earthy counterpart to Kate Middleton yesterday. Though I do share the curiosity with many about whether Murray would be better off if she backed off, at least publicly. He might not; like another mama’s boy, Jimmy Connors, he’s done extremely well with her there.
Whatever you may think of her Deliciano tweets, though, the mental image they call up probably beats the one we get from another message that she sent out yesterday over Twitter:
“Aaaaay, Macarena . . . Jamie [Murray] busting some moves on the player balcony . . . .”
As for the aforementioned Feli, he says that one reason he fought so hard to come back from two sets down in his last match was that he wanted to play Murray, in the quarters, on Centre—he didn’t mention Judy, but it’s safe to say she’ll be watching.
—Finally, Simon Briggs reports that at least 10 players have felt sick to their stomachs at the tournament this year. The presumed culprit is a new pasta and seafood bar in the players’ dining area.
—Over at the Independent, columnist James Lawton believes that its time to throw pessimism to the wind and dare to have some hope for Murray. He thinks his display against Gasquet yesterday was the type of tennis that can win him the title. And it is: But doesn’t it seem like the perfect dramatic development—flawed hero encourages hope before once again leading nation into soul-crushing depression. Wimbledon, Britain, Murray, and massive disappointment: It’s all coming together as planned.
Maybe some comic relief is in order. For that we head to the Mirror, which signals its approval of Murray’s improvised gesture to the Duke and Duchess yesterday with this headline:
—Things aren’t so happy for the Williams sisters, and according to the paper one of them will seek vengeance:
“Defiant Serena Williams vowed to shake off the ‘devastation’ of her shock exit by restoring her family’s battered pride.”
—The paper closes with this message from Germany’s Sabine Lisicki:
JUST CALL ME DORIS BECKER
Did Lisicki really utter this creepy command? Almost: “Steffi loves it here at Wimbledon and so does Boris. I’m enjoying myself here, too.”
Uh oh, no less an authority than Simon Barnes, appearing on the front page of the Times, has picked up on Lawton’s loony idea of "hope for the future."
“Prince William and Andy Murray both appeared on Centre Court in Wimbledon yesterday, both looking immensely content with their lives. Neither can be called a king just yet, but they are both, you might say, nicely placed.”
Correct me if I’m wrong, monarchy buffs, but isn’t Wills second in line to the throne? Doesn’t dad have to come first? Don’t worry about it, because Barnes closes on another ray of rare sunshine:
“There was a feast of action for royal visitors to savour yesterday . . . and best of all, the hope of something better.”
Oh, now you know doom is around the corner, don’t you?
Like the last act of a Shakespearean drama, all of the day’s themes are tied together, brilliantly and succinctly, by the Sun.
First we get a repeat of an earlier description of Murray and his royal improvisation: BOW WOW!
But the Sun is much more direct in its headline concerning the Judy-Feli subplot than other papers have been. No puns or irony here, just the plain truth:
ANDY’S MUM FANCIES HIS NEXT OPPONENT
—The paper is also equally blunt in its assessment of Venus and Serena Williams’ bad day:
—On the next page, Roger Federer is paraphrased with this headline:
I’M FEDDY TO RUMBLE
Federer’s actual quote about his next opponent, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga? Why take everything so literally? OK, if you must:
“He was the player,” Federer said, “that I expected to come through that section of the draw.”
—Finally, the Sun sums up all of the ominous hope of this moment among the British sporting public with this piece of stunningly reckless optimism:
“FUTURE KING: Andy heir to SW19 throne”
Is this play a comedy or tragedy? (Or is it, perhaps, an historical drama based on the life of Tim Henman?) We’re only in the third act, but it’s one to enjoy in its own right. The pasty, scraggly local tennis hero’s mother has fallen in love with his handsome rival. Let’s see how their match—I mean, their DUEL AT DAWN FOR MUM'S LOVE—plays out first.
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