Leading article: So long

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There is a website called
thelongestlistofthelongeststuffatthelongestdomainnameatlonglast.com/. It's the final part that's the giveaway. At long last. It's a fairly transparent attempt at unnecessary elongation. It just becomes a gag, and a pretty dire one at that.

There is something of the same artifice about so many of the attempts to get into the Guinness Book of Records. In recent days we have had Ozzy Osbourne leading a Dodger Stadium crowd in an attempt to break the record for longest scream by a crowd to promote his new album. Or Samsung Mobile organising the largest game of dodgeball. Or a Spanish textile firm making the largest beach towel ever. Or the largest underwater wedding. They are all just gags or gimmicks.

But the Wimbledon encounter that finally ended yesterday between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut was for real. This week it became the world's longest professional tennis match – setting records for the most games, most aces served, and several other records besides. But that was all secondary to a genuinely epic contest that made your average marathon look like a sprint. The officials at Wimbledon gave them a special award but they did not need it. The names of Isner and Mahut are part of tennis legend, and that is the honour that really counts.

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