Just when they should be focusing on how they are going to deliver the sporting performance of their careers, the world’s best tennis players are wondering if they can get away with orange-soled trainers. The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club hosts the most watched tennis tournament in the world, it’s about time Wimbledon started breaking a few rules.
A fair weather sport
In most sports, we like to see our athletes meet challenges beyond anyone’s control, especially the weather. But for some reason in tennis, at the onset of a light drizzle, the grass is quickly covered and the players are ushered away under umbrellas. It disrupts the scheduling and denies us the chance to see Federer with wet hair.
Remember in PE, when you had to line up on a concrete court and hit balls over a net for 45 minutes? Even on an unusually cold, rainy summer morning you still had to be out there in your shorts. Maybe it’s time to remind our star players the tribulations we put our nation’s children through and let them get wet from time to time.
The dress code for players
White clothes on a grass court? That’s just a recipe for green stains that’ll never wash out. And if we’re about to start making them play in the rain, maybe white should be avoided. It’s about time that tennis players should be able to wear whatever they want when they step onto the courts. These are the world’s best, shouldn’t they be able to express their individuality?
Go beyond introducing some colour to the courts, let them get all blinged up. Give every umpire light-up deely boppers so eyes will be on them at all times, watching for any signs of cheating. I’m not for banning tennis dresses, though. It’s time we let the men try lunging for the ball in a skirt without showing off their knickers to 7.4 million viewers.
The “dress-code” for spectators
For a club that doesn’t give clothing guidelines for most spectators, there’s certainly an atmosphere felt by anyone who shows up in booty shorts at centre court. This culture that looks down their nose at anyone not wearing a certain understated elegance is one of the lingering traditions that serves as a way of keeping lawn tennis the exclusive world of the British upper classes.
Take to your seats in whatever you want to wear. Make a toga out of a Union Jack. Get some body paint and a few friends to spell out the name of your favourite player on your tummies. Let the snobs rankle in their red trousers. They won’t be catching the attention of the TV cameras.
Silence during play
The players need to concentrate, they say. This is a traditional event, they say. True, it is jarring when you hear a solitary, ‘come on, Andy!’, echo from the stands (sadly not this year though). But that’s because your cheering and singing isn’t lost in the crowd, like at bigger sporting events. Tennis spectators need to, en masse, start really supporting their players and letting them feed off the energy.
And the same goes for the players. So much of tennis is focused on projecting a calm dignified demeanour whilst playing matches that could make or break their careers. They should be letting off steam, celebrating with abandon and injecting some personality into the sport. No wonder we still remember McEnroe’s, ‘you cannot be serious!’, outburst after decades of jokes and parodies. In any other sport we would have forgotten it by now, but he’s still quoted today. Sometimes by people who weren’t even born when it happened.
The ‘no football’ rule
2018 seems to be the year of clashing events. It started with Prince Harry’s wedding on the same day we wanted to watch the biggest national footballing event, and now the Men’s Singles final is very likely to clash with the biggest international one. Wimbledon has held a firm ‘no football’ rule on screens across the grounds and is not going to make an exception this year, even if England make the final.
At the very least, we could have updates on the score between sets. A round up of the highlights when the players stop for a barley water. Maybe even hold a sweepstake on whether the tennis or the football will finish first. For now, we might just have to settle for those with 4G keeping everyone on Henman Hill updated.