Wimbledon 2014 Sketch: A fainting ballgirl, Victoria Azarenka's candle for Lionel Messi, but Andy Murray's not flummoxed by labradoodle rescue

As fellow Brits (and a ball girl) fell like flies, the Scot sailed through in front of his adoring fans

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Shortly after coming off Wimbledon’s Centre Court, having calmly dispatched the Belgian David Goffin in straight sets, Andy Murray found himself in his winner’s news conference being pressed for more specific details on his recent rescue of a labradoodle on the streets of SW19.

The defending champion looked confused for just a moment, before replying sardonically: “That didn’t really come into my thinking too much today before the match.”

As the first British man to return to the All England Club as champion since Fred Perry in 1936, Murray can perhaps be forgiven the odd sarcastic reply. Welcome to Wimbledon 2014, where the opening day saw his fellow British players dropping like flies in the 25C heat (Naomi Broady excepted). No wonder a ball girl fainted.

At 1pm, Murray returned to the scene of his 2013 triumph to the delight of a typically enthusiastic crowd which included his girlfriend, parents, grandparents and an array of less conventional supporters such as Scotland’s Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the US basketball star Shaquille O’Neal.

Outside the complex, at the head of Britain’s most famous and civilised queue, was gardener Stuart Bere, 39, from Lincolnshire, who had booked a fortnight off work to see the tournament. “It’s buzzing. It’s the best atmosphere it’s been for years,” he said.

If Murray was feeling the weight of expection, he didn’t show it. But the occasion became rather too much for a ball girl on Court Number One, who fainted during the match between Victoria Azarenka and Miranja Lucic-Baroni and had to be gently ushered out by the umpire. Much like Murray, she’ll be back to serve again, as a Wimbledon spokesman confirmed later that she was “fine” and “ready to return to her on-court duties”.

Azarenka, the Belorussian world number eight, went on to win the match 6-3, 7-5 and spent most of her post-match press conference not talking about tennis. On her right fingernail she had emblazoned the Argentina flag in homage to her favourite footballer Lionel Messi, whom she described as “so little, so cute”. When asked: “What goes through your mind when you watch Messi?” she replied: “You don’t want to know.”


One can only imagine what some of the more upright members of the All England Club make of such ribaldry, given that in the run-up to the tournament authorities have reportedly tightened up the already strict “almost entirely white” on-court clothing policy, telling players that a 1cm coloured trim is all that is permitted.

Visible red underwear is definitely out, with transgressors facing a humiliating trip to the referee’s office for an education in how to dress appropriately. But yesterday the array of pristine whites on display suggested that the SW19 style police have won this particular round.

Murray’s next opponent is the Slovenian Blaz Rola, who he will face on Wednesday. Asked how he felt about playing on one of Wimbledon’s show courts against the defending champion, the 23-year-old replied with Murray-esque honesty: “Hopefully I don’t poop my pants and don’t play well.”