16 The Daily Telegraph Monday 29 June 2020 *** Sport Final whistle not for local players. And then the most extraordinary thing: a British tennis player who looked not only like he had the game to win it, but had the fury and the will that Tim, a pleasant Oxfordshire boy of summer, never found. Murray, a black swan formed of Dunblane grit and the lonely Spanish clay of his teenage tennis education, had it, or forged it, in himself. And what a journey we went on with him, those blistering starts and those fourth-set flat spots, the limping, the self-berating, the crushing disappointments. And then, with the Olympics as the most golden stepping stone, he finally did it. Given the era and the trio of immortals on the other side of the net, his 2013 and 2016 Wimbledon wins make him the greatest British sportsperson of my lifetime. All of that came to us via the BBC coverage, highlights of which will be shown throughout this week, including the great FedererNadal clash from 2008. And aside from the sport it has brought us, the BBC Wimbledon coverage has had an important social role in how sport shapes society for the good. That the men’s and women’s tournaments take place in the same arenas at the same time with the same amount of attention and coverage is something that has become so familiar as to be under-celebrated. But for all the leaps and bounds made by women’s cricket and football in the past few years, the likes of Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf were icons and inspirations to men and women alike in the days when, say, the England Lionesses were unfortunately not household names in their own households. Wimbledon on the BBC gave the casual British TV watcher an exposure to female athletic excellence, and later black female greatness via Venus Williams and Serena Williams, with a reach that has been hard to match. There has been live tennis on, the last couple of days, with Amazon Prime doing a really good job of Jamie Murray’s Battle of the Brits shindig, but it goes without saying that it is hardly the same as Wimbledon on the BBC. Plenty of opportunities on weekday evenings this week to walk down the SW19 memory lane, a comfort but no substitute for this fortnight’s loss. Alan Tyers BBC’s Wimbledon service is great loss W Year after year, we willed Tim to get over the line, year after year he found Pete Sampras too good imbledon should have started today. The year 2020 has brought many losses, big and small, and each of us will have our own matrix for evaluating them, but for this sport-on-television column at least, Wimbledon’s absence is most keenly felt. online as well. It is not something I have ever followed much on the radio, excellent though that coverage is, because there is no sporting treat quite as enjoyable as coming home in the evening and watching top-class drama on terrestrial TV night after night for a fortnight. Balmy early evenings, a refreshing cool drink, yelling in helpless desperate encouragement at Tim Henman and then, later, Andy Murray has been the sound of the summer for many of us, to the regret of our cardiologists. There are, of course, other tennis tournaments and grand slams but, let’s face it, for most of us, only Wimbledon matters, and this is mostly down to the TV coverage on the BBC. Year after year, we willed Tim to get over the line, year after year he found Pete Sampras too good. And then: Goran and that rain. There was something exquisitely English about a shower being partly to blame for a sporting heartbreak, and it looked utterly certain then that we would be in for an eternity of your “Jeremy Bateses” and their short-sleeved pullovers doing well to reach the third round before getting their lunch handed to them by a rocket-serving monster from somewhere “Iron Curtainy”. Wimbledon on the BBC meant Brits dropping like flies, Sue giggling girlishly at a flirty Pat Cash, John McEnroe hamming it up, sing-a-longs with Sir Cliff Richard and Pistol Pete’s New World Order morphing into the Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal golden age. A local tournament, but The BBC coverage of the All England Club tournament is the sport that it does the best and, along with the World Snooker, the most comprehensively, outside the Olympics and the quadrennial international football tournaments. For those two weeks, tennis is wall-to-wall on the two main TV channels and now these days, Top billing: Serena Williams, seven times a champion at SW19, with Sue Barker, and (below) Andy Murray lifts the trophy in 2016 marvellously Sport in brief Athletics Pandey yesterday. Her comments were a response to New Zealand captain Sophie Devine recommending a smaller ball and her India team-mate Jemimah Rodrigues suggesting a shorter pitch to pack more action into the women’s game. “In Olympic 100 metres, a female sprinter does not run 80 metres to win first place medal. The whole ‘decreasing the length of the pitch’ for whatever reasons seems dubious,” said Pandey. create a healthier and fitter world,” said World Athletics chief executive and former hurdler Jon Ridgeon, while Parkrun chief Nick Pearson said: “Exercise and physical activity is more accessible and sustainable where sports organisations collaborate and work towards mutual goals.” World Athletics will partner with UK charity Parkrun Global Limited in an attempt to improve fitness around the globe. The parkrun movement, in which people take part in weekly runs of two or five kilometres, began in a London park in 2004. It now attracts more than three million participants globally. “We have just approved a strategic plan that has the main objective of using the power and accessibility of athletics and our athletes to Cricket Women’s cricket needs better marketing and investment to grow, not “dubious” innovations, said India pace bowler Shikha
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