Anyone for a Pimm’s party?

Alastair McIver asks where Aylesbury folk will be watching the Wimbledon finals this year…

What will you be doing on the weekend of 14th and 15th July?
Perhaps gearing up for an England World Cup Final victory in Russia. (did I really say that?)
Or maybe you’ll be putting your feet up to watch watch a bit of ODI cricket when England take to the field against India at Lords.

Me, I’ll be glued to the TV that weekend, watching the Ladies and Men’s Singles finals at Wimbledon, as I usually do. I might watch it at my local tennis club, or maybe in the pub, or with friends at home.

Perhaps you will be doing the same. If you aren’t lucky enough to have secured one of the 14,979 Centre Court seats this year for the men’s or ladies finals, or indeed for the fortnight that precedes them, you can always have your own Wimbledon gathering at home by becoming one of the 4.7 million who watched last year’s women’s singles final, or being part of the 6.4 million TV audience who watched the men’s.

Who needs Murray Mound – we’ve got Aylesbury Vale!!

The world’s most televised annual sporting event always delivers, even if you are at home. And we own it. We should be proud. Wimbledon is part of our heritage, our dna, our summer. Whether we live in Aylesbury or Aberdeen, when Wimbledon comes around, it’s party time.

Nothing says ‘summer has arrived like Wimbledon, with its Pimm’s and Lemonade, its Strawberries and Cream or its Andy and Jamie Murray.
Of course, the former is a bit of a doubt as I write. It was exactly a year ago that we watched in dismay as Britain’s No 1 tennis player limped away from the All England Club, nursing a nasty hip injury which would keep him out of the game for virtually a whole year.

So if not Murray, who’s your money on this year? Roger Federer may be 37, but these days, he seems to save himself for Grand occasions such as this, not least to preserve his body. He’s already defended his Australian title at the start of the year, and he won 2 of the 3 Slams he played last year!! Would you bet against him winning one more Wimbledon title this year? Well, would you?

But then there’s the Serbian, Novak Djokovic. He has his critics, and he has had a tough year, but guys like Djokovic are, like all greats of the game, motivated by Grand Slam titles – after all, he’s got 12 of them, three of those at Wimbledon. He will surely be ready to pounce if and when Federer flinches.
Federer’s compatriot, Stan Wawrinka has won three of the four Slams, but has yet to win the Big W. He is a contender, though.
But wait, I haven’t even mentioned twice Wimbledon winner Rafa Nadal or last year’s finalist, the Crotian, Marin Cilic. Always there (Nadal) and always thereabouts (Cilic) they should not be discounted.

However, If you want one to watch, an outsider perhaps, try World No 3, the German Alexander Zevrev, who has come up on the rails without having been further than the 4th round in any of the Slams. His record in the majors is poor, but he is only 21 and his time will come. Maybe it will be this year.
In Murray’s absence, it’s surely too soon and too much to expect fellow Brit Kyle Edmund to be a contender, but he did reach his first Grand Slam semi in Melbourne in January and as I write, has reached the heady heights of No 17 in the World. His big serve will suit the grass, so who knows?

Talking of Brits, Johanna Konte has had a rapid fall from grace, finding herself outside of the top 20 going into Wimbledon, so we can probably discount her for finals weekend. The holder, Spain’s Garbine Muguruza is tall and fearsome and has also won the French, so she knows her way around a Grand Slam tournament.

But after a year off, newly married – and the mother of baby Alexis Olympia – Serena Williams is back and at 36, she still poses the biggest threat to the likes of World No 1, Simona Halep, who has yet to win a Slam, Caroline Wozniacki, who won in Australia at the beginning of the year, Elena Svitolina, Carolina Pliskova and Jelena Ostapenko.

And let’s not forget last year’s beaten Wimbledon finalist, Venus Williams, currently ranked 9 in the world. The Williams family will be attacking on two fronts.
For me, I’m going to stick my neck out and tip Halep to pick up her first Grand Slam title. It’s only a matter of time and its about time we had a Romanian name on the Ladies Singles plate.

What about you? Who will you be rooting for?
And where will you be doing your rooting? If you haven’t been lucky enough to secure a ticket, it’s not the end of the world. If you plan for it, Wimbledon at home can be equally as good an option as Wimbledon at SW19.

Why not start to plan that Wimbledon party now…send round a save the date card to neighbours or relatives, put the lemon and ice in the fridge, and put the TV on. You won’t regret it. And you know it makes sense.
Pass the Pimm’s jug please.

Alastair McIver is a freelance journalist who writes on faith, fundraising and tennis.
He is Features Editor for Tennis Threads magazine, and a regular contributor to Woman Alive and Liberti magazine.

July 6, 2018