My first memories of Wimbledon were of Jeremy Bates. I remember match point against Guy Forget, I remember someone in the crowd distracted him from his serve. He might have lost anyway, but that little piece of hope went for the first time. Every year since there has always been some hope, however fleeting. We can all remember years when a few rounds for a British player was a major event. Rarely, however, has what seemed impossible - a Wimbeldon champion - ever been likely. And if it ever did fate was bound to conspire against us. Even when Tiger Tim seemed destined, perhaps willed by a euphoric public on to the ultimate glory, even the rain conspired against us, and the dream went for another year.
Wimbledon is something we don't win, we have no possible hope of winning. We turn up each year, imbibe some Pimms, consume our strawberries and cream, and marvel at the tennis produced by people from all corners of the world, with surnames we can at times barely pronounce. Champions are McEnroe's, Borg's, Becker's, Federer's, Nadal's, Djokovic's - the very names re-enforce the unattainability of one of our most prestigious sporting events. Every year we look failure again in the eye, the self-questioning begins, success seems every further away, even more impossible. Winning Wimbledon becomes the very antithesis of Britishness, failure the yearly exemplification and painful reminder of our innate lack of tennis talent.
Andy Murray shouldn't be a Wimbledon champion. The son of a middle class family, his parents divorced when he was a teenager. He trained on sub standard courts, he didn't have the best coaching, the best players to play against. He wasn't part of a 'structure' that was set up for success, every year all it produced was failure, a cathartic process we watched first-hand, or vicariously through our television screens. If anyone remembers Andy's first appearance on a BBC Scotland news item, just after he had won the Orange Bowl, he spoke with a thick local accent, he was small and scrawny, and they filmed him hitting on clay courts in Dunblane that came complete with a puddle. But we were told, in optimist fashion, that he might just be the next tennis champion. Andy has succeeded in spite of a system that was set up for failure, that has produced no-one else of his or any other generation, apart from Tim Henman, in the last thirty years who looked remotely capable of achieving Wimbledon glory. Yet, the irony is of course, that Andy has succeeded because of all these things, because it gave him a single-minded determination and a vision that he had to leave, he had to break the British tennis structure, and move abroad if he was to have any chance of achieving his dreams. It was this inner belief and independence of spirit which have made him the success he is today.
I hope Andy wins tomorrow, but for the first time we can almost more than hope, we can expect that he will win. With Tim, and certainly with Greg, hope was all there was, they were always one level below the very best, but not Andy. He can achieve what none of us have ever seen, and for most of our lives have believed was impossible: become the Gentleman's Singles Champion at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. He can have his name inscribed on the board of champions, he can hold that beautiful golden trophy in front of a euphoric public. It will be a heralded as a fantastic British sporting achievement, and in many ways it will be. But in other respects it couldn't be less British, for Andy it is all about his family, the family he comes from, and that special family he has made with Kim and all those who have worked tirelessly to help him achieve their dreams. You see some of the public don't understand - or even like - Andy because he is that most unbritish of things: a male tennis champion. Tomorrow he can reclaim a part of us that has seemed lost since the darkest days of the 30s. But he will have done it his own unique and truly inspiring way.
This is definately post of the year for me....It brought tears to my eyes! Wonderful......Thanks Scotsgeek!