Fans on Murray Mountain are older and wiser – but their hopes are high
The steep, spectator-filled embankment east of Centre Court had a slightly different look to it this year. Formerly known as Henman Hill, fans of Andy Murray, the Great British hope, had turned up in force. But this year, the screaming teenagers on Murray Mountain, as it has been dubbed, have been replaced by mature Murray maniacs – and Scottish female ones in particular. Murray's absence from yesterday's schedule of play did little to dissuade his loyal countrywomen from turning out in force.
"This year is the best chance he'll ever have," Margaret Powell, 63, told The Independent, "because Nadal is out of the way and it's not often we'll be able to say that". She and her 61 year-old sister, Elizabeth Catherall, hail from Melrose in Scotland. Having never been to the opening Monday before, they were enticed by the prospect of tapping into the buzz surrounding their countryman.
"It's high time Scotland had a player we could be proud of," Catherall said. "I think there was a feeling that Tim Henman was a bit English and boring. Andy is a Scottish warrior – volatile and unpredictable, like the rest of his countrymen."
Margaret Tredre, 62, a nursing sister originally from the Scottish town of Lanark, thinks that Murray has matured hugely. "He's much more like the complete package this year. He's got all the shots and variations. He's a lot stronger physically and mentally," she said. "Plus he's got a girlfriend and a haircut, which makes him more like Federer, which is what he needs to be."
Former therapeutic counsellor Moreg Robertson, also a Scotswomen in her 60s, said that the key to Murray's chances lay in his controlling his temper. "I'm obviously a huge fan of Andy but I do think he's got to keep his cool. I didn't like all that swearing a few years ago and I'm glad he's calmed down a bit. If he controls his temper this year could be his year."
Roger Federer may have managed to turn up at Wimbledon in something akin to fancy dress but woe-betide spectators who try to do the same.
High on the list of unwanted garments are superhero outfits which are almost certain to herald disruption to the tournament by protesters anxious to grab the attention of the cameras.
Fathers for Justice and Plane Stupid are just two of the organisations regarded as having the potential to launch a stunt in superhero costumes and any spectator found with one faces being removed from the grounds, or at the very least having the costume confiscated. Banners, if allowed at all, will be unfurled to check their messages are directed at the tennis in hand.
More serious threats, including terrorism, could also be given away by the wrong clothing – among the most obvious potential mistakes is wearing clothing that may hide a weapon but is out of place in the heat of summer. According to one uniformed security official, "people wearing big coats might politely be asked why they bothered doing so when it's so hot".
Superintendent Pete Dobson, Gold Commander of Merton Borough Police and the man with overall responsibility for tournament security, said: "We have to cater for all types of incursions, whether they be from terrorist groups, from single protest groups or fixated persons."
"We are very concerned because it is an iconic event televised live around the world. London is still at 'severe' on the international threat level. We are extremely concerned."
Specialist support units including explosives officers and CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) device teams, would also be on standby throughout the tournament, Mr Dobson added. "Should we have a dirty bomb scenario then we have resources to help us deal with that," he said, though he added there was no specific threat to Wimbledon. Stalkers are a particular problem. One member of security personnel outside Court 3 told The Independent that he and colleagues had been told of a hit list of 30 individuals from around the world who might target the tournament. "There are meant to be some veterans who always turn up," he said, "but we know who they are and they won't find it easy getting in."
Staff have been encouraged to use their discretion when searching new arrivals to the vast complex.
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