SW19 diary: Federer win keeps Oxfam bet bequest on track

It wasn't just fans of Roger Federer who breathed a sigh of relief when the Swiss reigning champion recovered to win in five sets yesterday: Oxfam was happy too. If Federer had been buried by his Colombian opponent then a bet from beyond the grave that could make the charity more than £100,000 would have been six feet under as well.

A William Hill customer, Nicholas Newlife from Kidlington in Oxfordshire, placed all manner of sporting bets before he died in February 2009 – and left the slips in his will to Oxfam. One of those bets, placed in August 2003, was £1,520 on Federer to win seven Wimbledon singles titles before 2020, at odds of 66-1.

Federer has six SW19 titles to his name already, and a seventh in the next couple of weeks will earn a payout for Oxfam of £101,840. "Mr Newlife made arrangements in his will to pass any profit from his bet on to his favoured charity, Oxfam – a unique eventuality in our experience," said a Hills spokesman. "We will, of course, be handing the profits from his far-sighted wager to them just as soon as Federer holds the trophy aloft for a seventh time."

Officials opt for soft-touch policy on pest control

It's official: the All England Club has gone soft. It was a mere two years ago that it still favoured a robust and practical approach to pest control, dispatching men with rifles to shoot pigeons. That caused such a brouhaha that club officials have been careful not to see off vermin with guns since.

Now we hear they're actively saving birds, even building them houses. In the run-up to these championships, a maintenance man found a robin's nest in a rubbish compactor, unused for most of the year. Rather than press the button to test the equipment, he reported the finding. The club commissioned a new bird box, the same colour as the compactor, and fixed it to a nearby wall, and then specialists helped with the home move. Whatever next: housing for overnight campers?



All England Club takes a turn for verse

In another sign that the Club has gone a bit new age, it has hired an Official Poet in Residence for the first time. A chap called Matt Harvey, who describes himself as a "performance poet", will be penning a poem a day, apparently, and his work can be seen on the official Wimbledon website.

In a spirit of comradely verse, we have also been composing, and hope to bring you a few lines per day, as and when the muse strikes. Our first effort is entitled "Ode to Britain's women players", and goes: "Aha! It's nearly Wednesday, What are you still doing here?"

Email mistake spells out English failings

If the state of the British game is as desperate as ever, with not a single English player in the men's draw for the first time in the tournament's 133-year history, at least the LTA is paying attention to detail. Not. As the "Out of office" reply from one official was telling people yesterday: "I'm away at Wimbeldon."

If you can't even spell it, what hope of winning it?

McEnroe rant ranks as nation's leading moment

A survey to find the nation's favourite Wimbledon moment put John McEnroe's "You cannot be serious" rant from 1981 at No 1. Cliff Richard's execrable singing was No2 (in multiple senses, we feel). The McEnroe-Bjorn Borg tie-break was No 3, followed by Virginia Wade winning Wimbledon, and then Tim Henman reaching the semi-finals for the first time. The top 10 was rounded out by Roger Federer's 15th Slam, Rafael Nadal beating Federer in 2008, Boris Becker winning at 17, Venus and Serena's first final, and Goran Ivanisevic beating Pat Rafter. The top 10 also, confusingly, included an 11th moment: Pat Cash's scramble up the stands.

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