THE DAY THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND VISITED THE ALL ENGLAND LAWN TENNIS CLUB BY ALIX RAMSAY

Written by: on 9th February 2018
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THE DAY THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND VISITED THE ALL ENGLAND LAWN TENNIS CLUB BY ALIX RAMSAY  |

10sBalls Shares A Great Story By Alix Ramsay About The Last Visit The Queen Of England Made To Wimbledon, We Pulled This Out Of The Vault Again

 

 

Latest Editors Note: Out Of Storage Again! Alix is truly one of the best tennis writers of this generation. All of the Scots know her, most of the Brits and not enough of the rest of the world. Yes, she is that good that you all should enjoy her tilt on tennis related things.

 

Editors note : Alix Ramsay out of the vault. We had to add about the day THE QUEEN came to Wimbledon. The story Billie Jean King recalled for her last chat with BALLY.

 

Breaking news: 10sballs.com has seen the Queen. We may be a fairly new organisation, but we have been up close and personal with royalty. OK, we were up close and personal with about 38,000 other people when it happened, but we did it.

It was also a personal first for yours truly. I may be considerably less new than 10sballs.com, but I had never seen Her Maj in the flesh before and, as a Brit, catching a glimpse of a turquoise hat moving slowly through the crowds made the day rather special. She made her royal procession just in front of me (indeed, her car was following a few minutes behind mine as I parked up in Car Park 4). And had it not been for the large lady with the pointy elbows standing right in front of me, I might even have got a photo of Queenie as she processed in front of the press room.

And first impressions of the Queen? She may be my monarch and I may think she’s not half bad, but she ain’t half little. I’m 5ft 10ins tall and, had it not been for lady with the pointy elbows getting in the way, Her Maj would have needed to stand on a box to reach my shoulder (royals are known for their wish to touch the shoulders of Ramsays). Those pointy elbows have a lot to answer for.

Apparently, the advice from the Palace prior to Queenie’s visit to Wimbledon had been “don’t make too much of a fuss”. Yeah, right. This is the All England Club we are talking about here. Fuss is their middle name. And if Her Maj is popping in (“one thought one might nip in and sit in one’s own seat in one’s own box for once…”), they go into fuss overdrive.

Even so, it is a frightfully British attitude to take. We do pageantry, tradition and military parades brilliantly but we don’t do “fuss”. Way back when, it was the whole not fussing thing that allowed us to conquer half the world.

Arriving on some foreign shore, a posh bloke in a uniform would ask the local leaders: “Would you mind awfully if we stayed for a while? Please don’t go to any trouble. No, no, really, please don’t make a fuss…” and as the locals stood by, not fussing, the British army walked straight in and took over. We would build them a few railways in return for their hospitality, mineral wealth and tea (odd, really, because most house guests just bring a bottle of wine or a box of chox), but that was about it. We were big on building railways in those days. It was a bit like playing with train sets for grown-ups.

This method of invasion worked a treat for years, building us a massive Empire and Commonwealth. And then the rest of the world rumbled us. These days we can only lay claim to our own damp, little rock – and even that is mortgaged to the hilt. But we still have Her Maj, so we still have bragging rights.

So, back to the fuss. In order to placate the ruffled feathers of all those players not called upon to perform in front of HMQ, Her Maj met a host of them as she walked in to the grounds. There was the obligatory group of Brits (Laura Robson, the 2008 Wimbledon junior champion; Heather Watson, the current US Open junior champion; Anne Keothavong, the former British No.1 and Elena Baltacha, the current British No.1) and then the big guns were wheeled out.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth ll in the Royal Box on Centre Court for the second round match between Andy Murray of Britain and Jarkko Nieminen of Finland for the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, in London, Britain, 24 June 2010. EPA/FELIPE TRUEBA

 

Roger and Serena were introduced as the current champions. Roger was looking very posh in a smart suit and All England Club tie while Serena’s curtsey scored a 5.7 for technical difficulty and a straight six for artistic impression. Andy Roddick was standing in for Andy Murray (the Muzz was due on court to play Jarkko Nieminen in an hour and was doing his thing in the locker room) and appeared to have borrowed his jacket from a much smaller man. He looked like a badly wrapped parcel but, no matter, he bowed and chatted away happily.

Venus, who later had lunch with HMQ, towered over the royal guest; Caroline Wozniacki smiled a lot; Jelena Jankovic no doubt bonded with talk of medical conditions (Her Maj is 84, after all, and has had a few aches and pains over the years) while Novak Djokovic was on a charm offensive. He always is when there is lady present.

And then it was off for a spot of lunch before the Muzz was due on court.

Her Maj is not a great tennis fan, it has to be said. Many of her family love the game but Liz is more a one for the gee-gees. She breeds race horses, she trains race horses and she loves the races. In her world, horses rock and other sport just happens. As a result, the last time HMQ came to Wimbledon, it was to see Virginia Wade win the title 33 years ago. Things have changed since then. For a start, the Tennis Integrity Unit has banned gambling of any sort during tennis tournaments. No chance, then, that Her Maj could text her bookie during a change of ends to lay a fiver each way on Santafiso in the 2pm at Goodwood.

But Queenie did watch and Queenie did applaud once Scotland’s finest had won in straight sets. And she chatted jovially to both the Muzz and Jarkko once it was all done. She has quite a dry sense of humour, does Her Maj, and given that Andy has a very Scottish, very dry sense of humour himself, it can only be assumed that they got on famously.

But the hell with all of that – we saw the Queen. And it’s all about us.

And finally, the longest match in history did eventually end. John Isner beat Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68. It took three days, 11 hours and five minutes, 183 games, 215 aces and 980 points, but Isner is at last through to the second round.

When it was over, poor Mahut was in bits. Isner, for his part stood and applauded his beaten foe as the crowd stood to applaud him as the winner. He pointed to Mahut as the Frenchman buried his head in his towel, and he encouraged the crowd to cheer louder for Nicolas.

This had been a battle of will and stamina – and in that respect, both men won. The result came down to a couple of points – and in 980 points in all, that is unbelievable – and Isner sneaked them.

When finally Mahut emerged from under his towel to accept the mementoes that the All England Club had provided to mark the historic moment, he praised Isner. Isner, in turn, praised Mahut.

Neither man had moaned or whinged over the three days, and both men had just got on with the job. This was sportsmanship at its best. They both deserve medals. As Isner said: “It stinks that someone has to lose. To share this day with him is a real honour. I can only wish him the very best and that hope that we’ll meet down the road sometime. But hopefully it won’t go to 70-68.”

Mahut, in reply said: “At this moment, it’s really painful. But it was amazing to play these three days. We played the greatest tennis match ever at the greatest place to play tennis.”

But spare a thought for the umpire, Mohamed Lahyani, who sat stoically through every point of the 11 hour and five minute epic (and never once took a bathroom break). How had he done it, particularly the seven hour, six minute stint on Wednesday?  “I travel Economy,” he said.  “Seven hours sitting still on court is nothing.”

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