WIMBLEDON, England—Yesterday we witnessed what happens in the London tabloids when British players lose. The reaction is, shall we say, strong. As in: “This country is bloody useless” strong. But what's the response like if the locals defy their uselessness and play better than expected? Surely those same reporters and headline writers won’t go overboard in the other direction, just because the U.K.’s Laura Robson has won a match at Wimbledon, right?
The Times sets the tone with its sober, restrained assessment of the 19-year-old’s win over Maria Kirilenko:
ROBSON STUNS GALLERY WITH DESTRUCTION OF NO. 10 SEED
The Guardian keeps its head as well, refusing to read anything into one match:
ROBSON TIPPED FOR TOP AFTER TURNING ON POWER TO RESTORE BRITISH PRIDE
“After Robson’s impressive 6-3, 6-4 victory,” writes Owen Gibson, “the last British woman to win Wimbledon, Virginia Wade, said the 19-year-old could go on to do “something incredible” at this year’s tournament, and Pat Cash immediately predicted she would go on to become a Top 5 player."
The Telegraph also knows that a single match doesn’t make a career:
ROBSON’S SWEET VICTORY HAS MILESTONE FEEL
Even David Cameron was following the news from Wimbledon yesterday
The measured response continues elsewhere:
In the Independent...
ROBSON’S WONDER WIN SPARES BRIT BLUSHES AT WIMBLEDON
In the Mail...
SEED SLAYER LAURA
Robson claims yet another top scalp in quick-fire victory
In the Sun...
TELL LAURA WE LOVE HER
Laura Robson brought Court 1 to its feet—and British tennis off its knees
In the Mirror...
The nation’s bright hope reigns on Court No. 1
Though the latter tabloid does sound something of a sour note with another, seemingly laudatory headline:
GIRL IN A BILLION
“The LTA,” writes Neil McLeman, “spent nearly 1 billion pounds during the 19-year-old’s lifetime to find a Wimbledon champion.”
Hmmm, I think I’ll take absurd overreaction over that demoralizing reality check.
Fair and Balanced
—With all of the Laura love going around, you might wonder where the press’ ever-present floating cloud of hostility will land. Not to worry, there are still of plenty of targets in the draw. I have to say, though, I didn’t expect one of them to be David Ferrer. He won his first-round match yesterday, just like Laura Robson, right? Not according to the Times:
FERRER FAILS TO JUSTIFY ELEVATED STATUS WITH LIMP SHOWING AGAINST UNKNOWN
—There was more justification in the flaying of Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber, who retired in the fifth set against Ivan Dodig yesterday. On the court, Kohlschreiber said, “I’m tired,” as he walked off; in his presser later, he blamed three days with the flu. The Mail rightfully calls Kohlie out:
‘TIRED’ GERMAN QUITS BUT HE STILL POCKETS A 23K CHECK
That’s 23,000 pounds, by the way, or $35,000.
Shazza, Rena, and the Black Hearts
Do you miss the spat between Serena and Maria already? The papers here do. While there was no news on that front yesterday, the Independent kept the story alive with this luridly confusing headline:
TENNIS STARS’ VERBALS VOLLEYS OVER PLAYER TOPPING THE LUST LEAGUE
Bulgarian pin-up is at the centre of a Wimbledon love feud. Charlotte Philby finds out if he has anything to get off his chest
Before we go any further, message to anyone trying to think up a name for their band: How about “The Bulgarian Pin-Ups"?
Philby writes, in her best imitation of the flap copy on a romantic novel, that Sharapova’s match on Monday was “overshadowed by tales of sex, betrayal, and bitter rivalry.” She also claims that the Bulgarian pin-up in question, Grigor Dimitrov, “is said to have left Mouratoglou’s academy in disgust” because Serena ditched him for the head coach. How that fits with Dimitrov’s “black heart,” I'm not sure.
Speaking of which, Dimitrov has come a long way in the perception department, hasn’t he? From Baby Fed to Black Heart (we’ll skip “G-Force”), he's now the man who makes ball girls blubber. Dimitrov never struck me as especially charismatic or cocky, or a potential matinee idol, when he was struggling in the game’s minor leagues. Now that he’s been linked to Serena and Maria, Philby portrays him this way.
“The Independent attempted to get Dimitrov’s attention during his practice session yesterday. ‘Maybe not now, hey?’ he said as he swaggered towards the court.
“As if to remind us of the charismatic power he holds, he later strode back towards the balcony where we were, raising an eyebrow and asking, ‘So what do you want to know?’”
I remember talking to Dimitrov three years ago over the phone from a Challenger event somewhere in East Asia, when his ranking was taking on water and heading toward the 300s. He didn’t sound much like the guy Philby describes now.
Odd and Ends
—Tabloid nickname I hadn’t heard before: “Her Pertness,” for Pippa Middleton. Tabloid nickname I had (thankfully) forgotten: “Fragrant Kim,” for Andy Murray’s girlfriend, Kim Sears.
—Latest Maria Sharapova revelation, as reported in the Mirror:
I HAVE NO FRIENDS
Sharapova admits she has no friends in tennis
—Did you like the orange soles on Roger Federer's sneakers in his first-round match? Wimbledon didn't. The tournament, invoking its "predominantly white" player-clothing rule, told the Fed to leave them at home. Not that this should to be a problem for their manufacturer, Nike. I'm guessing it's the best thing that could have happened to the shoes' sales, if not its soles.
—We’ve heard about match-fixing, but what about sob-fixing? Today in London you can get 5-2 odds that Andy Murray will win Wimbledon and “blub it,” as the Express says, afterward.
—We can’t finish without our daily dose of Wisdom from Nick. Here’s Bollettieri’s advice for the All England Club in the Independent. (Note: The following words must be read with a scratchy North Bronx accent, and appropriately dramatic hand gestures):
“Hey, I have to say," Nick tells us, "if I ran this joint I would have to put in more places to buy strawberries and cream. I saw a queue today for strawberries that was almost as long as the goddamn queue to get into Wimbledon. You can’t get enough strawberries and cream.”
Enjoy Day 3. It’s supposed to be another dry one.