There is a lot to be said for a big bottle of water when it has been so hot and muggy at Wimbledon on my reporting travels. Refreshing yes, satisfying not so. Not when you can see scores of jugs of Pimms being consumed, when you pass the Champagne Bar and see flutes of bubbly beckoning, not when you watch a cold beer being poured and then drunk by the people you are talking to. I have abstained… so far.
But in this year of horrific events, Wimbledon has reassured me that spirits (quite literally) are up and the All England Club is one of the best places to party.
On my third day on the beat there was a British theme. The British contingent of a truly international crowd are really taking to Johanna Konta – and the number 6 seed’s tag of “betting favourite” is not weighing too heavy on her shoulders. And you can always rely on Andy Murray to thrill. Henman Hill IS Murray Mound when he plays and I was there to see every twist and turn of a thriller against the flamboyant Italian Fabio Fognini. Murray came through not long before 9pm and after a getting a few post match reflections of relief from those who wrung their hands and perspired throughout, I joined the hordes heading to Wimbledon station in the knowledge the British could yet win both singles titles.
I’ve now done 52,000 steps on the way to, from and at Wimbledon so far. The weight loss is now at 4lbs overall. And on day 3 of my journey I talked to mums of babies Eleanor and Rocco – both 7 months old – on how they were keeping cool. The umbrellas they had were, for once at Wimbledon, not for the rain, they were sun shades. The babes were both fascinating by the Wimbledon Channel microphone I’ve been using – although I’ve still to record a gurgle. It’s my mission for today.
I watched another lady – clearly a big tennis fan – pivoting from one leg to the other for at least half an hour with a baby backpack arrangement under the big oak tree at the top of the hill.
She had got in the shade but was peering through the hedge, pergola and hanging baskets to follow Heather Watson’s battle with Victoria Azarenka – herself a new mum. The baby eventually dropped off to sleep on her back, and she’d still seen all the action.
That is dedication to motherhood and tennis rolled into one. The sacrifices we make for the event we love.