Henmania is a hindrance to title bid, says Wade

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The Independent Online

Virginia Wade wants an end to Henmania as the nation's attention focuses on Tim Henman's latest attempt to win the singles title.

The 1977 winner believes the clamour for a British men's champion is piling unfair pressure on the country's No 1 and is concerned over the impact on the Championships if Henman were to lose to David Nalbandian in the fourth round.

"It's a bit of worry," she said. "There's so much Henmania. If he doesn't win, the tournament gets devalued. He should be considered as a wonderful tennis player. Wimbledon is not only about Tim Henman winning."

The 54-year-old Wade, the last Briton to win a singles title at the All England Club, acknowledges a Henman win would thrill the country in the way her own success in 1977 did. But she said Henman needs a hand if he is to realise his ambition.

"It would be manic," she said. "In so many ways it would be fantastic and it would take the pressure off him. He has to go through this every year and it's tough when you're the only one shouldering all the pressure.

"What he needs is another British player coming through to take the pressure off him. If another British player, six or seven years younger, started emerging, he would be able to go at his own pace."

On the continuing failure of the women, she said: "There's not one simple answer, except that we need more people playing. Quantity leads to quality. What we need is a steady flow. If you look at the Russians, they had 13 girls in the main draw with an age range from 16 to 27. They have the steady flow that you are looking for, somebody to look up to and so they get a chain going."