The ATP, the governing body of the men's tour, has been promoting its "New Balls, Please" initiative over the past year on the basis that the sport's young bucks can draw new crowds to the game. Hunks such as Andy Roddick, Jan-Michael Gambill, Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt have all posed in various states of undress for posters that will make them the idols of young men and the pin-ups of young women.
It seems delicious, then, to ponder on the four semi-finalists in SW19 this year. Andre Agassi, at 31, is, in tennis terms, ready for his pension book. Pat Rafter, at 28, could well be on the verge of retirement. Goran Ivanisevic is 29, and seems to be have been around for ages (but maybe that is because there are so many of him). And Tim Henman, the youngest, is 26. Old balls, please.
Have you ever, you know, thought that hesitancy, or even, you know, prevarication, might cause some players problems? In her post-match press conference after beating Serena Williams on Tuesday, Jennifer Capriati used the phrase "you know" 12 times in her answers. She also said "I mean" an amazing 17 times. She then went out and lost yesterday.
It gives us no pleasure to report that Tim Henman, in his post-match press conference on Wednesday, said "you know" 33 times, four of them in one reply. He also came up with a rather marvellous "I sort of kind know". You know.
Why do we tell you this? Just so you know. You know.
One of the thousands of fans who spent their good time and money in the official Wimbledon shop buying up souvenirs yesterday was . . .
Name: Jane Donaghy.
Occupation: Computer salesperson from Essex.
What have you bought so far? A kneeling mat for the garden. It's actually a cushion for sitting on the hard seats here but it's good for kneeling on. That was £5.50. Two mouse-mats, they were £7 for two. A girls T-shirt, for £16.50. And I'm about to go and buy some more stuff.
Were your purchases a bargain? No. They're probably making about 500 per-cent mark-up on almost everything, but what I've got are presents for other people and I suppose you are paying for the name.
Would you pay extra to have Cliff Richard's autograph on anything? Absolutely not.
Whose autograph would you pay extra for? Henman. Or the Williams sisters.
Who will win the title this year? Henman.
Who's your favourite player and what would you give them as a gift? Henman, and if I could do it, I'd get him some privacy so that he can go to the supermarket.
How many strawberries can you fit in your mouth at once? I reckon about seven.
The view from over there
Belgium has never known anything like it. "Justine Henin will be a huge story for us tomorrow," Laurent Gerard, who writes for La Libre Belgique, said yesterday. "I'm writing a feature story about her day, everything she did from getting up, to training at 10am, to playing, to the press conference.
"This is the biggest thing that has ever happened in Belgian tennis. Before Kim Clijsters played Jennifer Capriati at Roland Garros we had never had a Grand Slam finalist. Now we have two in one month. It's completely mad and the passion for tennis in my country is incredible."
The most pertinent question, however, is can Henin beat Venus Williams? "Yes. She already did," Gerard said. "In Berlin earlier this year she beat her. And she'll be able to do it on grass as well."
Be prepared, then, for another famous Belgian...Reuse content