Wimbledon Diary: Williams girls crush everyone but who's the No 1 arm wrestler?
Sunday 06 July 2008
Before the Sisterhood began turning Wimbledon into a game of Monopoly, the Diary had a unique insight into the sheer power of Serena and Venus Williams. They delivered a pair of handshakes that can only be described as bonecrushers. It would be interesting to see the outcome if they engaged in an arm-wrestling competition. Why not? Having gained first-hand experience of the girls' vice-like grip, they would give Muscles Murray or even Rafael Nadal a run for their money.
Equal pay isn't fair play
Talking of which, yesterday's winner in the family affair that was Williams v Williams walked away with prize money of £750,000, the sum that will be earned – really earned – by the men's singles champion today. Parity? It's nice work if you can get it, although for most of the time it can hardly be described in the women's game as work. The juniors, by contrast, deal in pocket money and when they leave the courts they don't summon a courtesy car. They queue with the hoi polloi and pay £2.50 for a bus to Wimbledon station where they catch a train to Sutton for B&B at a tennis academy.
Thai tongue twisters
Over at the BBC's rooftop terrace, John Inverdale has been doing his laidback, tie-less schtick in a hassle-free manner – until it came to pronouncing the name of Elena Dementieva. Inverdale kept saying it as if the word was somehow connected to Alzheimer's. Yet the name of the Russian is a mere bagatelle to what's on the horizon. In the boys' draw there was Kittiphong Wachiramanowong and in the girls' final against Britain's Laura Robson was Noppawan Lertcheewakarn. Anyone for alphabet soup? If the Thai teenagers decide to play mixed doubles they may need a longer scoreboard.
Sing when you're winning
Back to the Williams family and they sometimes give the impression they would rather be back in Florida. They have very little to curse about but Serena's serene progress in the tournament was interrupted by a code violation for an "audible obscenity" for which she apologised to the umpire. The unpredictable weather in Blighty has something to do with it, although back home the Sunshine State has been known to be hit by a typhoon or two. "I hate this rain," Oracene, the matriarch, was heard to complain the other day, as a gentle shower caressed Wimbledon. "Every time I come to this country it rains. I just can't stand it." The cameras usually focus on the father Richard, who coaches his daughters, but they are missing a trick with Oracene. When one of her daughters is under pressure, which is not too often, she tends to sing hymns – the family are devout Jehovah's Witnesses – in the manner of a plausible soprano. When they are doing well she can switch to Kool and the Gang's 'Celebration' which, to some ears, is kinder than anything Cliff Richard has to offer. Yesterday Oracene was torn between hymn and hers.
Murray talks a good game
Like Henmania, Murraymania was good while it lasted but it wasn't just the media that hyped Andy up to a hysterical degree. "I'm more of an all-rounder now compared to the majority of the top players. I counter-punch and can be aggressive. When it goes in, my first serve is a huge weapon. I think I have a chance of winning." That was Murray, not before his quarter-final defeat by Nadal, but before the start of The Championships. He should take his border terrier Maggie, who was exercised around Wimbledon by a dog-walker, for a hike north of the border. That would put a Highland spring back in his step.
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