Leading article: Water sport

Click to follow
The Independent Online

You know that there's not going to be a real drought so long as rain spoils play in the first days of Wimbledon. It doesn't always happen, of course. Very occasionally the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club's annual tournament of snotty officials, grinding professional players and ever-patient spectators gets off to a sunny start, at which point the television screens are full of spectators stretchered off and ice-cream supplies running out. The players may not complain as much of the heat as the English footballers in Germany, but on the whole the British public don't like the sun burning down on their handkerchiefed heads.

And for good reason. The fun in Wimbledon is in its chanciness. You camp out all night for tickets, head for the best-looking games and then wait patiently for the staff to pull back the covers while the corporate sponsors and their guests lap up the drinks and the strawberries in the hospitality tents.

The best moment for the ordinary spectator comes when play doesn't resume until after 5pm. At which point all the corporate clients and the LTA members have given up or are in no condition to proceed and the stands are the playground of the enthusiast - ill-attired, given to the occasional bouts of clapping errors, prone to patriotism but proud of that true Brit ability to survive long queues, bad weather and tedious officialdom for the sake of that golden moment when two or four players are locked in combat and their game takes life in the quick repartee and the gathering of determination that is tennis.

At least they don't throw bottles or chairs, although that may be because the only chairs at Wimbledon have been sold for the day to the banks and their patrons.