Thursday 5 July 2012

Wimblemund 2012: day 10

Agnieszka Radwanska (PL) bt. Angelique Kerber (D) 6-3, 6-4
Serena Williams (US) bt. Victoria Azarenka (BL) 6-3, 7-6(6)

It was Ladies' Singles semi final day today at Wimbledon, which normally means four chisel-faced ratbags howling like gibbons at each other for a few hours. However, today's games were rather more pleasant and engaging. Well, 75 percent of the time, at least.

A vignette from Centre Court this afternoon, during Serena Williams' victory over Victoria "stuck pig" Azarenka: the score is 6-3, 3-2; 15-0 to Williams, who is about to do a serve. A ball boy throws her another ball to pelt down at her bewildered rival. But alas, she fails to catch it and it rolls away.

Then a strange thing happens. If you or I were thrown a tennis ball and we didn't catch it and it rolled away, off we'd trot after it. But the mentality of the professional tennis player is so different. Serena Williams just stood completely still, staring at the middle distance, waiting for another ball to be thrown at her.

This is obviously something to which they have become so accustomed that it is ingrained within their psyche. I imagine that players who have been on the tour for 10 years or more can't stand still for any length of time before expecting a couple or three tennis balls to be tossed their way. Which would make waiting at the same bus stop as them perilous, if nothing else.

But who can blame them? The Wimbledon ball boys and girls do a sterling work. Very often they are so efficient that you won't even notice them for the whole fortnight of the tournament, unless Mansour Bahrami gives one of them a racket and asks them to be his doubles partner for a few points. But the service they provide is the very backbone of making a major tennis tournament function smoothly. And I want in. I don't want to be a ball boy, you understand. I want my own retinue of ball boys and girls to follow me around with tennis balls and towels and umbrellas and lemon barley water. I'd never want for anything ever again. Except possibly privacy.

If I had ball boys, then I would be happy. Promise.

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