Miles Kington: Some top spun yarns from the outside courts

It is disturbing for an opponent, when they hit a return, to hear me making a noise like Venus Willams!
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The Independent Online

* The young French star, Jean-Paul Barreau, has devised a novel, but apparently legal, method of putting off his opponents. Instead of making the normal noises associated with top tennis stars, he has on his person a small digital gadget which can, on command, emit those grunts and cries, pre-recorded.

"I have also mixed my own voice in with shrieks kindly recorded for me by female players. So it is disturbing for an opponent, when I am hitting a return, to hear me making a noise like Venus Williams! Sometimes, I also play the sound of an English lady crying pathetically, 'Come on, Tim!' The crowd loves that!"

* One match in the over-70s mixed doubles tournament, involving an Indian and a Spanish pair, has already been going on for five days, as the four players (combined age 320 years!) cannot always remember what the score is, who is to serve next, or indeed what game they are playing.

"I was called to one of these discussions," says over-70s executive umpire Sir Gerry Forsyth, "and when I got there, they were actually discussing what were the best cheap restaurants in Wimbledon, and had forgotten all about the tennis. It took all my persuasion to get them back on court again. I seriously doubt whether we should have instituted any over-70s events at all, or at least, having done so, whether we shouldn't give them all a marbles test beforehand."

* In order to avoid being fined, rising young Croatian star Boran Jancic has devised an ingenious way of giving vent to rage – he brings on to court several rackets that are already broken!

"When I come on court, I show them to the umpire. I say: 'Look, these are already smashed up. They are not for playing. They are for therapeutic purposes only.' He says: 'OK, fair enough.' Then, when maybe in the vital seventh game of the second set I make a cat's cradle of it, I come over to where my kit is, and I jump up and down on my broken racket. So he cannot penalise me because I am not damaging anything. And it also makes me feel better and it gives the crowd a laugh, too."

* What to do about keeping the second ball in reserve while still hitting the first serve – that's the big problem which has exercised top tennis players through the years. In these days of double-handed backhands, you can't just hold it in your left hand any more. So now some men keep it in their trouser pocket. Some women tuck it in the top of their knickers. And one young American, Vernon Dillon, actually puts his spare ball into his pony tail!

"I did try for a while copying the ladies and tucking the ball into the top of my boxer shorts," says Dillon wryly, "but it kept falling through during the point and rolling down my legs, which was kind of embarrassing, especially when I tripped over it mid-point. Then I thought, well, I've got this totally useless ponytail – so let's use it!"

* Valerie Nypskova, currently playing in the over-45s mixed doubles, claims to be the most mixed doubles player of all time. Her reasoning? That until the age of 34, she was a man and then had a sex change. Therefore, although she has always been a mixed doubles player, she has sometimes had male partners, sometimes female.

"Until the age of 34, I was a man called Valery Nypskov, and I played with a nice girl from Belgium called Leonie. She had a little shock when I said I would no longer be a man in the next tennis season. I suggested she change sex as well, but she said this would be difficult to explain to her husband. She suggested that we could now enter the ladies doubles together, but I was still very self-conscious about the hairy legs I had inherited from my days as a man, and did not want to be stared at by the other girls. So it was the parting of the ways for me and little Leonie."