I knew it was going to be an interesting couple of weeks when the Wimbledon highlights show aired on the first day and we appeared to have been transported to the promotional tent at an astro turf trade fair. It had all the markings of one of the infamous BBC meetings as portrayed in the brilliant ‘W1A’; primary colours, attractive young people standing around as if in a nightclub (albeit with McDonald’s strip lighting) and an entirely redundant bar area labelled ‘Gatsby’. Clare Balding perched Val Doonican style on a stool, massive microphone in hand and the scene was set. Was this retro styling or is the BBC now cutting costs as a result of the government telling them they have to foot the bill for OAPs’ television licences? If the camera panned around just slightly to the left, I thought, we might just see an Aston Martin adorned with bikini clad dolly birds.
Balding, the BBC’s replacement for John Inverdale has looked fab in an impressive spring pallet of corals, turquoises and creams. I admit I was sad to see Inverdale demoted as I rather enjoy his offensive comments but I needn’t have worried as the ‘Wimbledon2day’ (another W1A meeting idea? “Let’s appeal to the kids yeah?”) format appears now to be changing on a daily basis while the technical issues are piling up as quickly as the fallen seeds. No sooner had the uncomfortable looking Hollister types hanging around in the background been replaced with the London sunset as seen from the roof, than Balding and guest John McEnroe were drowned out by the sound of the Wimbledon tannoy telling everyone to make their way to the exit. The following evening, another amazing sunset = everyone ordered back onto the roof. Balding this time was joined by Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver. The wind had picked up, a point Balding confirmed with Lindsay Davenport when she pitched up fresh from the courts, despite the previous twenty minutes being dominated by the sight of Navratilova and Shriver struggling to control their hair which was being whipped around their faces as the camera zoomed in. Meanwhile national treasure Clare was sitting there smug and unruffled with her rock solid ‘do’ not moving an inch. It was like that scene in Airplane when the little girl is gasping for breath as the singing nun continues to whack her with her guitar. It was hilarious. Someone give that Clare Balding an Elnett sponsorship deal at once.
Meanwhile the tennis – oh yes, sorry, there has been tennis going on – has been pretty exciting too with an upset a day. And that’s just to do with the kit. We’ve had two sets of hoo-ha about male competitors’ caps (lucky or not/predominantly white or not), a question of court etiquette over female players wearing headphones as they arrive and so-called wild child of tennis Nick Kyrgios’ strop which culminated in a huge time wasting change of socks.
My own personal highlight has been the outfits worn by the ladies at Wimbledon this year. Not the Pippa Middletons and the Kim Murrays (all hair) but the ladies doing the playing. This year appears to be dominated by Stella McCartney designed Adidas gear and very chic it is too. The look features a lot of sheer panelling and some low cut bits meaning those who get a lot of press coverage are laughing all the way to the bank. Maria Sharapova who has glided seamlessly through to the semi finals hoping to win a second Wimbledon title, is looking on fine form. Apparently her tennis is OK too.
However this year, and it’s the same every year, the thing I am most fascinated by is what the men are wearing. And it’s not what you think! Ever since John McEnroe and Pat Cash retired from professional tennis they have fought a silent battle to see who can look the most like an ageing rock star for the longest. They both appeared with an earring and a laid back swagger and suddenly all the young players on the court seemed dull in comparison. Cash has since abandoned last year’s studious little specs which sent Twitter into meltdown and for 2015 is sporting blue nail varnish. I can’t approve. You wouldn’t see Tim Henman with an earring. And he might not have won Wimbledon our Tim, but hasn’t he got lovely hair still?
And so as we near the end of Wimbledon fortnight, let’s raise a glass of Pimm’s to the All England Tennis Club’s predominantly white rules. They all love it really. Even if Roger Federer is having a little moan about it this year. When you’re that good at tennis and hang out with Anna Wintour you’re allowed a whinge or two. Because really, look at him, does this look like a man who has a problem with deciding on what to wear to his match in the morning?