SW19 Diary: Serena match proves too hot for Queen to handle

Nick Harris
Thursday 24 June 2010 00:00

The SW19 Diary can reveal that an apparently bizarre and potentially explosive decision by the scheduling committee about today's play on Centre Court is not as bizarre as it first appears. The powers that be have decided not to put the defending champion Serena Williams on the main showcase court on the day that the Queen visits for the first time in 33 years. And they have decided this despite Serena having talked publicly and at length about her glee at the monarch's visit, and how she has been working on her curtsy.

So why have the schedulers decided to put the match featuring Caroline Wozniacki and Kai-Chen Chang ("Who?" asks everyone) on Centre, between matches featuring big names Andy Murray (against Jarkko Nieminen) and Rafa Nadal (against Robin Haase)? The official response is "because the good matches need to be spread around". That's why Serena will be playing her match with Anna Chakvetadze on Court No 2.

But the Diary understands it could be more complex than that, and that Serena is not on Centre Court not because she's been snubbed by the All England Club, but actually to avoid the possibility of a perceived snub by the Queen.

How so? Because the Queen will not necessarily stay all day at the Club. And imagine the headlines if she stayed for Murray and then left before Serena played. That would look really bad. The odds about her staying as long as the second match on Centre are deemed to be long. As someone familiar with the situation suggestion to the Diary: "It's boiling hot. She's 84. And she f***ing hates tennis."

One last note: Serena's curtsy practice will not have been in vain. She will get to meet the Queen in a special ceremony on the lawns here before play starts.

Phew! Panic over.

Steward is right on queue

Our second stonking exclusive of the day comes from the queue, where word reaches us of some sterling service by an honorary steward (HS), Nick Lipscomb.

The HS, for those not familiar with Wimbledon, are the army of volunteers from the shires who keep morale so chipper all fortnight. Anyhow, Lipscomb spotted one lady looking distraught at the head of the queue as it snaked towards the ticket booth, where the BBC was filming and interviewing punters about how long they'd queued for. Lipscomb enquired whether she was OK, because she looked so distressed. She then confessed she was bunking off work, and had in fact just called in sick, and that she therefore did not want to appear on TV. Lipscomb, with his only motivation the service of his customers, replied quick as a flash: "Madam, if you're unwell, you really should be in the disabled tent." And he let her hide in there until the Beeb cameras were gone. Genius.

Unforgettable seat search

Another fan approached another HS and asked where the "dementia" seats were located. We're told by an impeccable source that the steward was tempted to reply that he couldn't remember, "but in fact politely corrected her and showed her the way to Debentures".

Bottoms up for the Queen

As the Club has appointed its own poet in residence this year, the SW19 Diary continues with its own series of "performance art" pieces (ie hastily cobbled-together nonsense). Today our theme is royalty.

Limerick for Her Maj: "There once was a Queenie called Liz / She was partial to the odd glass of fizz / She couldn't stand tennis / so avoided the menace / by drinking to stave off a tizz.

Weather Warm with sunny intervals and a slight chance of cloud during the afternoon.

Max temp 26C

Live BBC 1: 1.45-6pm.

Live BBC 2 11.10am-3.25pm.

Additional coverage BBCi 11.50-9pm and BBCHD 12-2.30pm, 5-8pm.

Highlights BBC 2 8-9pm

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