Blogging Wimbledon.

Notes on tennis.
July 9 2007 6:25 PM

Blogging Wimbledon

The whiny, batty, beautiful finalists.

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Sabatini looks like a human racehorse, a (successful) experiment in genetico-aesthetics. … Her beauty alone scares the life out of her opponents—because tennis is above all an expression of personal power and, in the women's game, is closely bound up with how a player looks, and how she feels she looks.

We know, we know: You knee-jerk second-wave feminists are shocked. But please remember that Amis wrote that in 1988. These babies have come a long way! For instance, four days into Wimbledon 2007, the most momentous issue in how female players look concerns the underpants of Tatiana Golovin.

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They're actually more like kickpants or, as the British press has it, knickers. In any case, during Golovin's first-round victory over Su-Wei Hsieh, they blared a fire-engine red from beneath her skirt. "They say red is the color that proves that you're strong and you're confident," Golovin said later. "I'm happy." Fleet Street pursued this story with usual quiet good taste, prompting Wake Up To Wimbledon's Chris Fowler to discuss whether this was an appropriate topic of discussion. His interlocutor was the Daily Telegraph's Sue Mott. "In this country, knickers are in-bounds, especially when the tennis is dull," she offered. "And when Henman's the top story, it is dull." Golovin lost today to Tamira Paszek in the tournament's first big upset, but she promised to wear something fun for the U.S. Open.

Venus Williams, meanwhile, did not even bother with a skirt today when she and Serena trounced Claire Curran and Anne Keothavong in doubles on Court 18. She wore a pair of white shorts that fit as tightly as Anne White's notorious unitard of 1985. "Her skirt was too big," Mary Carillo reported earnestly from the booth. "She couldn't fit into it." She chatted about Venus' figure for a while, and then Patrick McEnroe wondered why the tennis world's most daring fashion statements always get made at its most conservative major, and we were sad that no one had thought to comment on the jauntiness and élan of Venus' visor.

Wednesday, June 27

Andy Roddick. Click image to expand.
Andy Roddick

On the second day of play, England's Tim Henman beat Spain's Carlos Moyá by seizing a held-over fifth set in its 24th game. It was thrilling victory, not least because Henman zips around small and reedy while Moyá's all hair and beef and tattoo ink, and every time the Spaniard charged the net, which was often, we kind of expected him to leap it and give the Brit a wedgie. It was also a thrilling victory in that it led us to discover Richard Williams—not the father of Venus and Serena, of course, but the chief sportswriter for the Guardian. The Point had imagined that the prose of the New York Times'Selena Roberts was the last word in Wimbledon purple, but Williams is of another magnitude. He paints in every shade from misty lavender to lurid magenta.

In the piece posted this morning ("Henman's thrills and spills keep nation on edge"), Williams notes that the player showcased many sides of his game: "[W]e saw just about every facet and every dimension of Henman witnessed since the boy from Oxfordshire first stirred Middle England's heartstrings." Williams' idea is to set up a rollercoaster metaphor so potent in its imagery that The Point cannot stop reading it slackjawed:

[W]e bought a ticket for the Henman ride that has provided the centrepiece of the All England Club's lavish theme park, with its very special ups and downs: the euphoric highs and the fathomless lows, the shouts of joy and the half-smothered groans, the long minutes of aching tension followed by a second's explosive release.

Speaking of explosive release: Today, Andy Roddick was on the way to a straight-set second-round victory over Thailand's Danai Udomchoke when some odd noise came squirting through Center Court. Roddick, just starting in with his pre-service ritual at the moment, waved his racket back and forth behind his butt as if to waft away a flatulent something. This got giggles in the stands and the booth, but it also broke Roddick's concentration, and we felt the aching tension of Roddick's coach, Jimmy Connors, looking on as Andy struggled for a bit, his head lost in clouds of his own fart joke.

Tuesday, June 26