SPORTS LETTERS

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The Independent Online
From Mr H Manley

Sir: Regarding the apparent resurgence of British players at Wimbledon this year and in particular Tim Henman's win over Yevgeny Kafelnikov. Clearly the victor played a good solid serve-and-volley match and I take my hat off to the chap. However, as one of the majority of people for whom the Wimbledon experience is the experience of the BBC coverage of Wimbledon, I found shots of Henman doing his thing in slow motion to Elgar and Sue Barker dubbing Henman "Our Hero" upsetting and over the top. To me such feelings have nothing to do with tennis.

I must admit that I feel relieved when all the Brits are finally knocked out. This is not because I am anti-patriotic or hate the British players, but simply because I like to sit down, relax and enjoy the beauty of the game for itself. And for me a large part of the poetry and escapism of the game, as a spectator sport, is that unlike cricket or football, which being team sports are more naturally a nationalist province, it is individualistic; that is, more about characters than nationalities.

Martin Luther King said a person should be judged not on the colour of their skin but on the content of their character. Personally, I find which tennis player I support is down to a question of style and attitude rather than nationality.

If there is a resurgence in British tennis, and, of course, it would be a good thing if there was, then the downside of the equation will be that the television coverage of tennis will become more and more like a prosy chest-beating jingoistic assembly in the school gym. This would be, in the words of John McEnroe, "the pits of the earth".

H MANLEY

Thatcham

Berkshire

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