Wimbledon 2013: As an event it has everything – apart from a decent crowd

The tournament is, for some, a kind of safari trip into the world of fandom

Share

It was, surely, Andy Murray’s greatest moment at Wimbledon: an ace past Roger Federer’s flailing backhand to win the final in straight sets, and an overjoyed, unashamedly partisan crowd on their feet to greet his triumph in exactly the spirit it deserved.

Except, of course, that this triumph was achieved in the colours of Team GB. This was not the Wimbledon Championships, but the Olympics. And, as Murray himself has acknowledged, this probably isn’t a coincidence. “I just find when [the crowd] is extremely noisy and vocal, that helps me,” he said recently. “The Olympics were always going to be different. There were so many flags and stuff and colours in the crowd… it just had a different feel to it.”

It’s hard to disagree. What Murray won’t add is that it took years for the harrumphingly English crowds of SW19 to recall their Britishness and give him even the support he enjoys today. (We have, one hopes, now heard the last titters of “Come on, Tim” as Murray prepares to serve, perhaps the snootiest and least amusing joke in sports, and emphatically absent from the Olympics.) Wimbledon is the tournament of Cliff Richard and white uniforms and strawberries and cream; it is not a tournament of flags and colours in the grandstand. Anyone who doubts the distinction should consider how the atmosphere changes on the rare occasions that walk-up fans comprise the majority of the crowd on Centre Court. In general, we can thank the rain. Think of the joys of “People’s Sunday”. Think of the Monday final of Pat Rafter and Goran Ivanisevic, surely the most thrilling conclusion to the tournament in recent times.

The sense that the tournament is, for some, a kind of safari trip into the exotic world of sports fandom is strengthened by the strange experience of Laura Robson. Robson’s ponytail and ready smile made her seem a ready repository for the hopes of the crowd, and yet even she might sometimes have wished for more forthright support. For the first few games of the match that earned her yesterday’s ill-fated fourth round tie, one journalist observed, she played in front of a “half empty grandstand”. If Roy Keane didn’t like the prawn sandwich brigade at Old Trafford, one dreads to think what he would have made of this lot.

Wimbledon remains, without any doubt, the greatest tennis tournament in the world. And tennis is the most gladiatorially thrilling of sports, at once pitiless and humane. So what is it about the denizens of Centre Court that so deadens the spirit? Maybe the ticket prices; maybe the grand traditions that surround it. Neither of these is easily fixed.

And so Andy Murray’s chances of sampling that atmosphere again are, one fears, about as good as his chances of playing his quarter-final in a shirt bearing the design of the Union Jack.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Political Editor: Phone and data laws to be passed in haste

Andrew Grice
The first lesson of today is... don't treat women unequally?  

Yvette Cooper is right: The classroom is the best place to start teaching men about feminism

Chris Maume
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial