Ah the sweet and eternal fixtures of the English summer. Ascot. The Henley regatta. The cataclysmic inundations of late June. And where would we be without Wimbledon?
For some of us the joy is not just in the competition, but in the metronomic regularity of its key events. First there is the article in the Sunday press by John McEnroe. Here, in return for we know not what financial consideration, the former champ opines with reassuring predictability that this year “Tiger” Tim Henman has what it takes to win for the home country.
Every year we read McEnroe’s sage analysis, and we feel the same surging hope; and every year the last sheeplike bleat of “Come on Tim!” dies on Henman Hill, as our national star is duly thrashed out of sight by some teenage beanpole Croat, invariably in the semis or quarter-final of the tournament. In its formality, its ritual, the Henman exit is like the chiming of Big Ben or the Changing of the Guard, and whatever they say about Britain today, we can still run a ceremony like clockwork. Goodbye Tim, and see you next year!