Wimbledon Diary: Stewards forget manners but fully enjoy the service

Click to follow
The Independent Online

We know it must be hungry work to be an honorary steward at the Championships, but the scenes at a cocktail party to reward their efforts on Wednesday night had to be seen to be believed. The stewards, for those who have never had the pleasure to attend this best-organised of all sporting events, are the middle-aged, middle-to-upper-class chaps and ladies who make politeness an art form. But our spy at Wednesday's bash, where vast supplies of teriyaki, cocktail sausages, vol-au-vents and other nibbles were on offer, tells us: "No sooner had each tray of food appeared from the kitchen, the waiter carrying it was mobbed, literally, and every morsel devoured within seconds. The stewards are delightful people but it was as if they hadn't eaten for a week. Folk were being pushed aside in the rush. I've seen more edifying sights on a safari. They were like vultures ripping carrion to shreds." The Diary asked the All England Club if it was accurate to say the stewards are "greedy trough-snuffling gannets". A spokeswoman said: "Categorically not. They do a marvellous job and we couldn't run the Championships without them."

There's more chance of a Brit winning...

The spate of UFO sightings across Britain has prompted a bookmaker to offer odds on an alien landing on Centre Court during this year's Wimbledon. Sky Bet say it is a 200-1 shot. And the price of a British woman winning the singles title in the next five years? That really is the realm of fantasy – it's a 250-1shot. Helen Jacob, a spokeswoman for the firm, said yesterday: "Recent reports of UFO activity probably make an alien landing a likelier prospect than a British success in the women's singles at Wimbledon."

... if an 'alien' seeks new home in SW19

All is not lost. If you find 5p down the back of the sofa, there might be worse bets than a British women's winner by 2012. Because this very morning, Britain's Laura Robson, 14, will contest the final of the prestigious ITF Juniors event at Roehampton, a warm-up for junior Wimbledon much as Eastbourne is for the grown-ups. Laura, who will play America's Melanie Oudin, has dropped just one set, to Australia's Johanna Konta, 17. And guess what? Konta, one of the world's best juniors, wants a British passport and will probably get it.

First in the Queue

Sleeping on the pavement is part of the whole Wimbledon experience. Each day we'll bring you an interview with the first person in the queue for the day's play.

Names: Sarah Perryman and Gemma Burton.

From: Redhill, Surrey/Tewkesbury.

Age: 30/25.

Occupation: Accountants.

Arrived in the queue: 10am Thursday.

For: Friday's play.

Who are you here to see? Federer.

Why? He's the best in the world. We actually wanted to see Djokovic, but it's already too late.

Are you clinically insane? Yes.

Today's random question: Glastonbury is this weekend, starring Amy Winehouse and Jay-Z, but who are that pair's equivalents in the tennis world? Jennifer Capriati, and Andy Murray, who's cool and edgy.

If the All England Club served a pigeon that has been slaughtered at The Championships, would you eat it, if it was nicely done, perhaps grilled, and served with a red wine jus? Sarah: I've got the biggest bird phobia in the world, so that would be no. Gemma: I'd give it a go. I'll try anything once.