Tim Henman is, right after Jonny Wilkinson, my favourite English sportsman because he symbolises for me an inexplicable aspect of the English psyche. Henman is the best English tennis player at the moment, he has been ranked 4th in the world, he is currently 21st, he holds eleven titles and he gets to the quarter, semi and finals on a regular basis. But he has not won Wimbledon, and for that little oversight, all his overseas achievements are ignored. The love / hate relationship between England and Henman is epic in its dichotomy, the country prepares to back him to the hilt, but are completely resigned to him crashing out before the finals.
Every Wimbledon, the whole of England manages to say exactly the same sentence at least once …
‘Henman is playing again this year, and you know, even though I know he won’t, I really wish he could win it this year.’
I have nothing but admiration for the man, he is a great player and a good man, yet there is only one title he needs to win to obtain the kind of hero status the Rugby Team got after the World Cup, and it just keeps eluding him.
I have made it my life’s work to love and understand the English, but to this day, I still can’t explain their surprising inability to regard one of their great sportsmen as anything but an abject failure.
For the non-London residents, SW19 is the postcode for Wimbledon.
There is a way to stop Wimbledon fans shrieking “Come on, Tim!” Forgive me, but it has to be done, and it can be done simply by putting his superhero status into perspective, thereby reducing our unreasonable expectations of him. We can achieve this by placing as much emphasis on the second syllable of his name as on the first.
Think Batman. You are now in a position to imagine Tim getting up each cock-crow, popping down to the Hencave, emerging as his fluffy alter ego, and clucking off to SW19 in his little brown Henmobile. Faster than a speeding pullet.
On a side note, I was just watching a smidgin of the Safin-Philippoussis game, with Philippoussis 1 game to Safin's 2. G'ah! I can't mention the cricket any more, please don't tell me I will have to stop mentioning the TENNIS now! If only I weren't so keen on actually watching the matches for other more aesthetic pleasures.