Ball-girl gives Henman some sensible advice

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The Independent Online
The ball-girl, hit in the head by a ball struck in exasperation by Tim Henman during last year's championships, yesterday wished him good luck in his bid to become the first British man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.

Student Caroline Hall, 17, now too old to be a ball-girl, said the incident which cost Henman his place in the tournament last year, was water under the bridge.

"It's him I feel sorry for he's really got a lot of pressure on him. I think he's got a great chance and will go a long way. If it's not this year it will be soon," she said.

"He's a really nice guy - a really natural person as well. His first- round performance against Yevgeny Kafelnikov was really valiant and a really tough first round.

"What happened is all water under the bridge. It hurt at the time because the ball was travelling at 90mph and hit me on the side of the head but since then it has been fine.

"I wish him good luck and I'll be watching. My advice to the ball-girls is don't worry about keeping your head down just concentrate on the game," she said speaking from her home in south London.

Prep school boy Henman is hoping to beat taxi driver's son Luke Milligan, 19, to become the only home-grown talent still in this year's men's singles.

Henman's defeat of the world No 5 Kafelnikov has made him ninth favourite to lift the men's trophy at 50-1 and become the first Briton to win a singles' title at Wimbledon since Virginia Wade in 1977.

The incident with the ball happened during a first-round doubles match last year with Henman disqualified after his angry swipe after losing a point he felt he should have won.

He later apologised with flowers and a kiss. Henman, 21, is a tennis thoroughbred, and the fourth generation in his family to play at Wimbledon.

His great-grandmother Ellen Stawell-Brown was the first woman to serve overarm at Wimbledon, while his grandfather, Henry Billington, reached the third round of the men's singles in the late 40s and early 50s.

Three of his children competed at junior Wimbledon, one of whom is Tim's mother, Jane.

n So you thought the favourite pastime at Wimbledon - apart from watching the tennis - was consuming strawberries and cream and downing Pimms? While strawberries and yoghurt have become de rigueur for the health-conscious at this year's championships, salmon is also being consumed at a rate of knots, with 12,000 kilos having been sold so far.

n Andre Agassi, the 1992 Wimbledon champion, may have made an early exit from this year's tournament but his postcard is still the biggest seller. The Las Vegas showman tops the list at Wimbledon's museum shop, ahead of triple winner Boris Becker.

n Marc Rosset, the 14th seed, will head for Atlanta after Wimbledon to defend his Olympic title although it does not seem he has much choice in making his trip across the Atlantic. The Swiss No 1 who beat Goran Ivanisevic and Jim Courier on his way to gold in Barcelona said: "I'll play in the Olympics or otherwise they'll kill me. I'm a dead man in Switzerland if I don't go. I cannot return, they won't let me return if I'm not playing."