Harriet Walker: Let's inject a bit of Glastonbury into regimented old Wimbledon

Share
Related Topics

We all know what we're supposed to do at this time of year: go out and buy crummy Union Jack hats, eat strawberries and cream, and wail about the latest British hopeful almost/nearly/just about getting through the early rounds at Wimbledon.

The truth is no British hopeful could win if you gave them a racket the size of Texas and grafted Mark Philippoussis's arms on to their pigeon-chested torso. That's just not how it works.

The tournament is all about formula, and it's as stultifyingly rigid as a quadratic equation: sad people plus patriotic nonsense divided by an almost entirely false sense of suspense equals massive let-down, yet again. Of course, some of the familiarity comes from the fact Wimbledon, in all its institutional glory, is one of the only sports events not to have been wrested from the BBC's grasp.

There are those who would cry real human tears at the very idea of its hopping channels, but others might whimper with relief at not having to look at Sue Barker for two weeks every summer until they die.

Like the Test cricket and the footie, there's a chance Wimbledon could blossom in the arms of another broadcaster – though not ITV, because we all know what they did to the Boat Race. But Channel 4 perhaps might unearth some hitherto unseen aspects of the tournament that could revolutionise its wearying regularity.

Our Wimbledon is the BBC's Wimbledon; the predictability with which the golden oldie clips are shown, the same celeb faces wheeled out, participants and inanimate objects given fey, Enid Blyton-esque appellations, may well be solely the fault of the corporation. Who's to say that Wimbledon done another way wouldn't focus on the petty rivalries or, say, the international strawberry shortage? It would be fascinating to see whether another take on Wimbledon could make it a bit cooler.

It's astonishing and depressing that, over the same weekend, Wimbledon and Glastonbury should represent the different faces of Britain. One is ruddy-cheeked and plastered in cheap facepaint, the other spattered with mud and Lord knows what else. But Wimbledon could learn a lot from its rocking rival – Glastonbury is one of those things that foreigners think are good about Britain. Granted, they're going by the pap shots of Alexa Chung looking pristine in her Hunters, rather than all the narced-up trance fairies or men dressed as pagan gods and Willie Nelson. But still. No one could accuse Wimbledon of not being an admirably well-oiled machine, but that's part of its problem. The play and the people have become so robotic that the whole shebang has lost its charm entirely.

And all the socio-parochial baloney that comes along with it – the faux-camaraderie, the parochial humour, the "traditions" and the triteness – are dull. Not funny or entertaining, and – let's face it – in a sport where most of the major players have little to no personality of their own, Wimbledon could do with a shot of charisma.

It's a place of pilgrimage for overgrown Blue Peter viewers, which should have gone the way of church and the WI. Glastonbury, meanwhile, goes from strength to strength by evolving to modern tastes.

Fashion designer Alex Noble, who has dressed Lady Gaga, created a particularly frightening themed frock for a Wimbledon sponsor's party last week and it stands as perfect synecdoche for the whole tournament, really: you can glitz it all up with flags and bunting, and ladle on some double cream but, fundamentally, Wimbledon is just a load of old balls.



h.walker@independent.co.uk

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Mosul falls: Talk of Iraq retaking the town, held by IS since June, is unconvincing  

Isis on the run? The US portrayal is very far from the truth

Patrick Cockburn
John Rentoul met Ed Miliband aged 23, remarking he was “bright, and put up a good fight for the utilities tax, but I was unconvinced.”  

General Election 2015: Win or lose, Ed Miliband is not ready to govern

John Rentoul
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk