In a weekend where Britain has achieved stratospheric sporting successes beyond its dreams, fans will be asking themselves: Does it get any better than this?
No more “maybe next year”: Andy Murray’s historic win Sunday at the Wimbledon Mens’ final has astonished the entire nation, including himself. I’m positive he’ll be waking up Monday morning asking himself: “Blimey: did I really achieve the impossible?”.
The entrance into Wimbledon’s Centre Court, where players Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic passed through Sunday afternoon for the 127th Mens’ Final Championships.
His straight set win 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 against Novak Djokovic in searing heat and under torturous pressure, particularly in the white-knuckled third set, has, finally, confined the ghost of Fred Perry, the last Brit to win the mens’ title back in 1936, to the history books.
It was the perfect final, the world’s No. 1 seed versus the No.2 seed, a packed Henman Hill of “burned backs and bum cracks” as one commentator joked (in other words, thank god for the sun), and a 26-year-old Brit on his finest, most sparkling form. From Murray’s clever engineering of “cheap” points through a cache of aces, his steely determination—a feature undoubtedly enhanced by his impassive Czech coach Ivan Lendl—and being at his physical peak; the intense training regime over the past year has transformed Murray’s scrawny physique into bracing muscle and brawn.
I watched it all unfold from my couch, barking at the kids to keep quiet and not daring to move. But having been at Wimbledon’s cosy centre court (much smaller than New York’s Flushing Meadows where we witnessed Murray beat Djokovic and win his first Grand Slam last September), on Saturday to see France’s Marion Bartoli crush and beat Germany’s Sabine Lisicki, I could almost imagine myself sitting amidst the rows of Panama hats and glistening spectators fanning themselves with programmes.
A Wimbledon favourite: Kent strawberries and cream and a Devonish cream tea.
And if that wasn’t enough…the British Lions won the test series against Australia 2-1 on Saturday, with the Lions scoring the highest ever win 41-16 in a rugby test match. I had the old grumbler almost crucify me for dragging him all the way from Wales to Wimbledon (thus using those free tickets his nice mate had given us), when he could have been cheering the Welsh wonder Leigh Halfpenny, in our local alongside the rest of the village sporting the red-dragon flags and necking pints of Gower Gold.
“Bloodied but victorious” my hubby, a former Sale RFU player himself, said of the Lions’ win. The 16-year wait was over. Not quite the 77-year wait us tennis fans have had. Still, the Lions series is only played every four years, and a win for the Lions is a fairly rare event in its 125-year history.
As rugby goes—as my hubby explains it—winning this series is a big deal: “To be selected to play for the Lions and represent Britain is the pinnacle of rugby prowess, but to be a Lion on a winning tour…you become a legend.”
The Lions’ tours are famed for uniting players from across Britain, with squads hand-picked from the national teams of Ireland, Wales, England and Scotland. But on Saturday the starting team boasted no less 10 Welshman; a fact I have no qualms in boasting about given I’m Welsh, and a proud one at that. I also defy anyone to find anything other than gloating news reports of Wales’ outstanding full-back, Leigh Halfpenny, whose records feature the highest number of points scored by an individual test Lion, and the most by a Lion in any test series.
Last but not least, our Celtic neighbours across the Irish Sea had cause for raising a pint of the black stuff Sunday night too. Ireland’s Dan Martin won stage nine of the Tour de France, making him the first ever Irishman to win a stage of the annual multi-stage bicycle race. While, Britain’s Chris Froome came 14th to keep the leader’s Yellow Jersey.
Like everyone else, I’m more than happy to overlook his tenuous British standing (born in Kenya, brought up in South Africa, currently living in Monaco), but still qualifying for a British cycling license owing to his UK born father and grandfather.
And, so on weekend of seemingly superhuman sportsmanship, that has quietened even the most cynical of us Brits, we can, maybe just this once, shout: “Rule, Britannia! Britannia rules the games!”