Something terrible happened at Wimbledon yesterday on my day of reporting from the grounds. It is something that has never happened to be before. I was rejected – on air – for an interview. Not a big deal you may think but it was a bruising experience.
In my many years of reporting from the All England Club I genuinely cannot remember a similar situation. You can normally sidle up to anyone with the Wimbledon Championships microphone and they will reveal their passion for the game, their love of the players, their enjoyment of this occasion.
So I am live from under the big screen on the Hill and the studio needs to tap into the Roger Federer followers. I do my intro, talking about the fact that Roger seems to have as many fans as Andy Murray here. Now remember, for the past half an hour I have been checking out who might talk to me so I can gamble at this point and go to people who are “bankers” for a good, quick chat.
The first couple I’ve seen fist pumping at Federer winning the first set and they are from Spain. Incredibly they like the Swiss more than their own Spanish star Rafael Nadal… it made for a good discussion about why. Federer is so graceful, he makes you love tennis, he’s a great ambassador, dignified, beautiful to watch. So far so good.
In my previous watching brief, not far away I saw this guy with a Wimbledon Channel earpiece in, avidly listening and looking at his phone – I thought probably checking the scores from No.1 court where the number 8 seed Dominic Thiem was in action. So I move from this Spanish couple to this guy and say “this man is probably listening to me right now because he has his Wimbledon Channel earpiece in. “Sir, are you listening to us right now?
“No, I’m not!”
“So can I ask you what you are listening to?”
“Nothing, I don’t want to talk to you… (and with a strong index finger pointing in my face) Go away”
Well it had to happen one day! Wimbledon makes most people happy, but he wasn’t. I’ve not been so upset since a young lady offered me her seat on the train… and I’m only 55.
Anyway that should not detract from a brilliant day of Federer fan watching, and I was outside Court 3 when the British doubles pairing of Marcus Willis and Jay Clarke knocked out the defending champions and number 2 seeds from France, Hebert and Mahut ,to raucous cheers. I spoke to those who queued to get into see those final moments … and missed it, much to their frustration.
Talking of queues, this is a common theme. People queue to get into Wimbledon, they queue for water, for the toilets, to get into the courts around the grounds, and they queue (and it’s a long one) for Pimms. It is obviously worth it in the end, but one of the guys I spoke to said he didn’t even want the Pimms, he just loved the queuing. He was joking of course but it justified my theme and it was a great line on which to hand back to the studio.
Among my favourite interviews was the England cricketer Jason Roy – looking very stylish in a fedora type hat, enjoying life in the VIP area before seeing Djokovic and Federer on Centre Court. He was fascinating in comparing the pressure someone like Andy Murray feels set point down to playing in that T20 Final for England, and experiencing the passion of the Indian crowds.
I can’t help but be damaged mentally by that interview rejection at the end of the day… but I will be back for more on mens semi finals day next Friday for sure. My betting slip says Grigor Dimitrov will win this title, but my head says a Nadal v Federer final. We’ll see.