Wimbledon 2015 - Derek Laud: Serena Williams' pursuit of sixth title is not lost in translation

WIMBLEDON DIARY

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Serena Williams’ coach and consultant, Patrick Mouratoglou, has been credited with preparing Serena for her recent victory at the French Open. One of the bizarre things about his relationship with her is an informal agreement they have which dictates that under no circumstances can the Frenchman speak to her in English.

As well as aiding Williams in her campaign to surpass Steffi Graf’s 22 Grand Slam singles titles , the coach has been given the job of helping Serena perfect her French.

Williams never ceases to amaze. Her brilliance at dissecting her opponent’s game might one day be transferred to the operating theatre as news has emerged that the greatest female player of her generation has declared her intention to study medicine when she retires.

Spare a thought though for the honorary stewards on court No 1 earlier in the week when Williams began her campaign in pursuit of a sixth Wimbledon trophy. At Wimbledon, the rules are strict. Players are allowed six tickets for their guests when they are playing so there was a look of horror when 16 guests turned up with Williams. Nonetheless, arrangements were made.

The stewards were asked why this was allowed by a number of journalists to which the response was given that they didn’t want to be hit by one of Serena’s 125mph serves.

***

Those who lament an apparent dearth of characters in the sport should take a look at Bethanie Mattek-Sands. In the past, the 33 year-old has been fined for a wearing a cowboy hat on court, taken out a restraining order against an ex-boyfriend, has been banned from the WTA tour, and married a hunting enthusiast whose Facebook page hints at a pathological hatred of Barack Obama.

***

There is no doubt that Andy Murray is hugely popular among fans at the All England Club but that does not necessarily apply to the workers and players of the club. Of late, the British No 1 has made liberal use of the gym facilities in SW19. Murray is given to hogging certain equipment while members of his entourage look on at the Scotsman as he works out.

Lifting only three reps at a time on one machine in particular, while taking intervals of up to 15 minutes, it seems Murray has grown oblivious to the other gym-goers who are equally keen to make use of the facilities on offer. All the while this is happening, the five members of his team continue to simply observe Murray without making use of the equipment themselves.

***

The players at SW19 all have different relationships with their coaches, physiotherapists and agents. Maria Sharapova, in particular, has developed a unique relationship with certain members of her team.

The world No 4 has implemented a six-month probation period for a number of her physiotherapists and hitting partners during which time, as dictated by their contract, they cannot engage in social conversation with Maria.

Although they are allowed to hold professional conversations with the player, Sharapova’s physiotherapy sessions are often completed in near-silence. Once the six months are over, the former Wimbledon champion will allow them to talk to her in a social regard.

***

It’s one of the challenges that technology can’t change. Players on tour grumble about the amount of time they spend sitting around not knowing how long the wait will be before they can start their matches. What to do with their time is a constant problem. Among many of the younger players, the new dating app “eye2eye”  provides a solution. The selling point of the app is that you actually see the person in the flesh. And so ends this tiresome business of trawling through fake profile pictures.

It’s going down a storm on the tour and keeping alive the possibilities of match making.  One player tells me their peripatetic lifestyles makes it difficult to find romance but this new app keeps hope alive.

Comments