Donald MacInnes: All set for Wimbledon, that legendary land of extravagant spending


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The Independent Online

Quiet please. MacInnes to serve. Play.

Monday sees the start of Wimbledon, where everybody wears white and the grass is greener than a wheelbarrow full of peas. This year, everyone's favourite scowl-free, happy-go-lucky, charm-the-birds-out-of-the-trees Scotsman, Andy Murray, will attempt to do something which no British man has done since last summer: namely, win Wimbledon. Murray has done his best to win Wimbledon several times since his victory in July, but has always been disappointed, due in no small part to the fact that the doors were locked and the only person in the ground was a small Latvian groundsman called Oleg who told him to "Bagger off, meester." Our melancholy hero even tried climbing the ivy-engulfed walls, his thinking being that, even if he was the only player to turn up for the tournament, he would still have a better-than-average chance of at least making the quarter finals.

Quite honestly, you can understand Murray's enthusiasm for the two weeks of hitting and running and lobbing and coughing. It's a seductive event, far more than simply "a garden centre with calf muscles", as it was perhaps unfairly described by one journalist. Actually, it was me what wrote that. I don't actually believe that. I was trying to be provocative.

No, the simple reason why Andy is so keen to win his second Wimbledon crown is due to two things. First, the men's champion actually does get a crown, which is golden and encrusted with rubies (to represent strawberries) and diamonds the size of tennis balls; to ensure parity, the women's champion gets a snow white horse with a Prada saddle – a "Praddle").

Second, this year, the total amount of money in the prize pot (this is an actual ceramic pot full of fifties which sits in a cupboard in Sue Barker's loft extension) has been increased by 10.8 per cent to £25m. Whichever man and woman wins their singles title will both receive £1.76m, an increase in £160,000 from last year's bounty. And that is a HUGE amount of cash.

Personally, I have never been to Wimbledon. Could never get a ticket. My dear old Mum spent her life dreaming of visiting the place, but she sadly never got the chance to do so. As a result, I shall be tucking her photograph into my jacket pocket and making at least a small, not-very-real part of her lifelong dream come true, because this year I am going to Wimbledon! Woo-hoo! I actually can't believe it. The gods must truly be smiling on me this year, because my brother-in-law has only gone and managed to get us a ticket for this year's fun. We'll also get access to the famed Members' Bar, where fit men and women in crisp tennis whites wink languidly at you from the corner and each toilet cistern is filled with Pimms.

So, wish me luck. I shall, of course, report back on any newsworthy events. Like if Rafa Nadal manages to get through the competition without picking his bum.

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