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Monday, 23 June 2014

Wimbledon 2014.

The start of the Wimbledon tennis tournament marks the beginning of British summertime... symbolically at least. Hundreds of thousands of people from all around the British Isles, and even further afield, flood the quaint borough of London for the most exciting tennis tournament of all. The matches dominate our TV screens throughout these two weeks. We become emotionally invested in our favourite players' journey. We share their ups and downs: screaming for the wins and crying for their losses. The technique of the world's top players are riveting to watch - the speed at which the ball travels and the way they so effortlessly glide around the court. No wonder we become so engrossed in it all. 
My love for Wimbledon lies in its celebration of all thing British. After all, it's not just about the tennis. The tournament is based in the nation's capital - just minutes away from the pleasantly posh Wimbledon village. The fact that we host this hugely popular tennis tournament creates a sense of national pride. The matches themselves feel distinctly British - the formality of the players in their white uniform, the polite clapping after every point, and the one over-excited person that yells 'Come on Andy!' at a pivotal moment. I love how the public seating area outside Centre Court has been christened 'Murray Mountain' - that crowd is always so fun to watch during an important game. The atmosphere is so upbeat and jolly despite not being able to bag a seat in the most sought-after stadium. Even the temperamental weather changes add to the Wimbledon experience. Living in the UK, you can never bet on sunshine so we've chosen to embrace it with luminous rain-coats and a put a roof over Centre Court for good measure. Strawberries and cream are also a crucial part of any Wimbledon attendee's experience. Plus, Kim Sears is undeniably the Kate Middleton of the tournament - her outfits are flawless and her unwavering support for Murray throughout his professional success and failure is adorable. 
During these intense two weeks, I become a fully-fledged Wimbledon addict... at least when it comes to Andy Murray. I'm even watching his opening match as I write this. For any hard-core Murray fan, Wimbledon resembles a story of heroes and villains. Andy is obviously our hero and anyone that plays against him the villain. I don't consider myself a particularly angry person, but the resentment I felt for Roger Federer when he stole the Wimbledon title from Andy in 2012 was like nothing I've ever experienced! Federer is, undeniably, a fantastic player but he always come across so arrogant and smug. Sue Barker's interview with Murray after his 2012 loss is heart-wrenching. And yet the moment Andy won the championship last year was just as moving. It was like the whole of Britain breathed a sigh of relief. You felt like you were watching history - and I suppose we were, since Fred Perry was last British man to win in 1936. But for me, it was about Andy Murray himself. We'd been watching him flourish as a player since 2007. My respect for him, however, is down to the fact that he was still able to succeed with the nation's hopes of winning a major sporting event on his shoulders. The British can't do football but Murray gives us hope when it comes to tennis. 
Tennis is such a easy, fun sport to watch. It's fast-paced and exciting and there's always a definite end. It's not like struggling through an England World Cup Match where you're just begging the team to get themselves together. The focus on one singular player means you're so much more invested. You can see in their sporting style just how much tennis means to them. Watching Murray's frustration when he gets angry at himself gives us insight into the pressure he puts on himself. He gets so much criticism for not being 'charismatic' enough - but what does that really matter? He's a fantastic player who has fantastic skill and delivered Britain's dream of a Wimbledon title! If anything, I have more respect for the fact that he's so clearly a private person. 
Like the rest of the nation, I'll once again be supporting Murray to the bitter end. But the pressure is off this year - he's won the title once. Now it's time for us all to relax a bit and enjoy the game.

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