Sport on TV: Heather's winning smile lets us cast aside our jerseys
Sunday 01 July 2012
It has got to be better than Wayne Rooney scowling and spitting. After the predictable demise of England at the Euros, Heather Watson's ebullient smile briefly brightened up our damp, grey summer. The Guernsey girl, who became the first British woman in a decade to reach the third round at Wimbledon, is well on the way to supplanting the Jersey boy Bergerac as our favourite Channel Islander. Give that girl a cigar, Charlie Hungerford.
As John Inverdale wittered on Today at Wimbledon (BBC2, Wednesday): "In this Olympic year of all years, we keep talking about how sport is for inspiring young people and having fun and just getting out there on the big stage. Nobody seems to do that more than Heather Watson." A few more years on the circuit should wipe that smile off her face, though.
Contrast with Maria Sharapova, "six-foot two, super intense, ready to bear down," according to Sam Smith. When a point goes against her, she looks like a character in a BBC period drama who has suffered the most grievous insult from a prospective suitor. "If ever there was a look that turned water to ice, Sharapova just delivered it," said a wary Nick Mullins during her struggle with Tsvetana Pironkova.
The BBC's highlights package seemed to get its frilly knickers in a twist during the first week. Anne Keothavong was 5-2 up in the second set on Tuesday evening but the Beeb went straight to Inverdale instead. Nor did they show any highlights of Murray's first-round match because apparently we had all watched it already.
By the next day they seemed to have changed their tune. "The point of this programme is that people go to work," breathed Inverdale, whereupon instead of allowing us to catch up on the day's events they took us off to watch Sharapova live for half the show. But it's on the red button, we screeched, Maria-style.
Then we were treated to the resumption of a match between Coco Vanderweghe and Sara Errani which had been poised on match point overnight. After 15 minutes of warming up, the action lasted seven seconds – Vanderweghe served a double fault, and that was that. At least they didn't show the whole warm-up.
John McEnroe is invariably the best thing about Wimbledon coverage but he failed to show up for the highlights on Wednesday, and the previous evening Mac appeared in a Mac to take away the umbrellas of Inverdale, Tracy Austin and Boris Becker before disappearing again. He's been very generous with his time in the past, so perhaps he's finally had enough and decided there is something intrinsically wet about British tennis. Fair enough, you're bound to get soaked at some stage.
No wonder the players like to have a towel handy. Watson is one of the leading towel-users in the game, but unlike most Brits she just wants to wipe the sweat off rather than put it over her head and sulk.
There was, in fact, no escaping the football. Some overtired and emotional fans had set up on Court 14 to cheer on Jamie Ward in a most downbeat fashion. It was a five-setter, so perhaps they had been a little more animated earlier on. But it might be better to hire the Tartan Army to come down and help out. After all, they haven't been up to much this summer.
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