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
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.
Read more: Murray begins title defence with convincing win
Murray gives the performance of a champion
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.”
Cristiano Ronaldo could return against Manchester United - but it won't be like previous reunions
Arturo Vidal to Manchester United: Midfielder set to force through move to Louis van Gaal's Red Devils - reports
Calum Chambers joins Arsenal: New £16m signing put through Arsenal initiation as he sings The Kooks in front of team-mates
Manchester United transfer news: Mats Hummels, Daley Blind and Thomas Vermaelen on radar as Louis van Gaal reveals he still wants to sign defender
New Liverpool signing Dejan Lovren forced to train with the under-21s after US visa mix-up
- 2 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness – including don’t try to convert other people
- 3 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 4 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 5 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'