Henman can profit from punishment

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The Independent Online
The flowers were so tall they almost obscured her face. But nothing could mask the delighted expression of convent pupil Caroline Hall, when yesterday on practice court No 1 the 16-year-old Wimbledon ball girl received an enormous bouquet of white lillies, sprays and yellow buds from Tim Henman, the young Briton who only the night before had accidentally whacked a tennis ball into her head, right behind her ear.

Giggling as, at the repeated requests of photographers, Henman bent to kiss her - a gesture which quickly became dubbed "the henpeck" - Hall showed little sign of suffering from shock. If anything she seemed to be rather enjoying the occasion, moaning afterwards, with all the weariness of celebrity, "They just kept asking him to kiss me."

Henman himself appeared to be in good spirits and, unlike the previous evening, very much in control of himself. He happily lapped up the extra publicity which his actions had afforded him, grinning politely and thanking Wimbledon staff for all their support in the last 24 hours.

Neither of the couple would say anything to the press but Hall delivered a written statement saying: "It was a bit of a shock and my head is quite sore. I know it was a complete accident and I was just very unlucky, as was Tim. Tim has said sorry but I had already forgiven him because I know he didn't mean the ball to hit me - there's no hard feeling."

Henman had already told BBC interviewers that he accepted the ruling defaulting him from the championship. "They have to draw the line somewhere," he said. "I hit a ball in anger and it made contact with the ball girl." After the press conference Henman and Hall departed separately: he into the competitors' pavilion and she, presumably, going home since the doctor had told her to rest.

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