Shelagh Fogarty: Oh, I say! Commentary box stars have all the chat to leave a Wimbledon newbie speechless

One minute it’s point-by-point machine-gun fire, the next it’s urbane

I think they call it "a great gig". Every now and then an outside broadcast makes me stop, put down my pen, and really take in what's around me. Presenting BBC Radio 5 Live's daily coverage at Wimbledon this past fortnight has been one such gig.

The first thing that hits you is the colour. HD reality. As you walk through the gates of the All England Club it's as though someone just went over the world with a bumper pack of felt-tips. Green and purple the first ones to run out! The grass courts look like velvet. Purple and white flowers hang overhead, like low clouds, or underfoot to soften any hard edges.

The day before the first ball is hit, Jonathan Overend, the BBC tennis correspondent, greets the whole team in the room where countless players will give their post-match interviews. Commentators, summarisers, Wimbledon champions, current players, producers and presenters gearing up for one of the world's finest sporting tournaments. The message is "enjoy it".

What all good commentators understand is that they set the tone and in radio that matters all the more because there are no pictures to run parallel with their words. If it's exciting, listeners should feel excited. If something funny happens on court, they should feel like smiling.

From the BBC commentary box, I've watched and listened in awe as Jonathan, Clare Balding, Ian Carter, Alastair Eykyn, David Law and others have kept pace with the high-speed on-court action. I like to think I'm half decent at an on-air gear change but the BBC tennis commentators are in a league of their own. One minute it's point-by-point commentary – machine-gun fire – the next it's urbane chat with champions past, all based on an in-depth knowledge of the world of tennis and its characters. With them, variously, are Pat Cash, Mark Woodforde, Goran Ivanisevic and Jana Novotna.

Independent columnist Nick Bollettieri joined us on air for the first week.There's a man who loves life, but you get the feeling he loves tennis even more. His reading of the players is fascinating to witness. Britain's Heather Watson spoke adoringly of him and told how with just one piece of advice from him she ironed out a persistent problem in her game.

The only time I heard him get it wrong, so did everybody else. It was when Lukas Rosol popped on to Centre Court way before his match with Rafa Nadal. Getting a feel for the big arena, we mused, breathing in the atmosphere before his big test to come. Nick laughed as he said: "Well he'd better enjoy it while he can 'cos he won't be there for long!" We all know what happened later that night. What a match. I made the foolish decision to leave the commentary box after two sets. Bad call. Too late to challenge!

Current player Bethanie Mattek-Sands' on-air reflections have been wonderful for any tennis fan too. Not only does she explain the nuts and bolts of tennis technique brilliantly, she's able to transport us right into the locker room with all its human tales of victory, defeat, rivalry and friendship. Gold dust!

So take a bow, ladies and gentlemen. This nervous new girl has ended her first Wimbledon fortnight on air admiring not just the tennis but the specialists who make an art of talking about it.

Shelagh Fogarty presents the weekday lunchtime show on BBC Radio 5 Live

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth with Tess Daly in the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special
tvLouis Smith wins with 'Jingle Bells' quickstep on Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Special
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Sport
sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there