LONDON – The Royals, Kate and Bill, turned up to watch a game of tennis yesterday at Wimbledon, and lend moral support to one of their wayward subjects. That would be Young Murray out of Scotland, who may suffer hernia from carrying the British Isles on his back.
Will he ever dissolve that pressure by winning Wimbledon, a feat last accomplished by a homeboy 75 years ago. It merely seems like yesterday – if you’re Methuselah. But if you’re a Brit waiting for somebody to emulate Fred Perry’s last triumph in 1936, it gets a little tedious. (He also won in 1934, 35)
But once again the Brits, who devised the game in the 19th century, are down to one player. They love the game and fill the seats – but they can’t play.
Except that their boy, Andrew Baron Murray, ranked No. 4 on the planet, does know how to swing a racket, and move and groove on the quick sod of Centre Court. Which he did, as hot as the afternoon, in beating the stylish backhanding Frenchman, Richard Gasquet, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 6-2. That solid performance landed Andy in the quarter-finals.
Though they had split four previous matches, Gasquet, ranking No. 17, said, “Andy’s a much better player now. He’s doing everything – great backhand, good forehand. He’s running a lot, clever on the court, a real good player. I couldn’t break his serve.”
That was OK by Kate and Bill Windsor, sometimes known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. They were in the front row of the Royal Box, applauding (but not overdoing it) for Andy and, of course, sportingly for the Frenchman.
Murray and Gasquet battling recalled centuries of British-French rivalry. Remember King Henry V at Agincourt? And the tennis balls sent him insultingly by the Dauphin, knocking him as a playboy?
The Duke will become the King of England himself one day. He has the right presence, as does the Duchess. You may recall them starring on television in a recent marital drama that attracted billions of viewers across the globe.
As the great grandson of the man who became King George VI, the Duke has a Wimbledon connection. In 1926, before becoming king, he played the Wimbledon doubles. Played like a hacker, and his wife told him not to do that in public again.
But suppose Murray wins the title, slaying the jinx and spreading good will across the
Isles. Could they make him the Duke of Scotland? Or a Knight of the Tie-breaker?
And would Kate and Bill be in the Royal Box to watch him do it? Maybe she would be knitting him a kilt. I think he can, based on yesterday’s lalapalooza of a matinee.
The second Monday, traditionally the demolition derby, left wreckage everywhere, such as the Sisters Sledgehammer, Venus and Serena. Sixteen men’s and women’s matches coughing up eight quarter-finalists each. Three wins short of a championship.
Throttled by injuries and illness, the Sisters were beaten on the same day, only the fourth time in their gleaming careers: defending champion Serena by Marion Bartoli 6-3, 7-6(8-6), Venus by Tsvetana Pironkova, 6-2, 6-3. The twin defeats had happened most recently at the French Open 2008 in the third round.
No. 1 lady Caroline Wozniacki still can’t win a major, floored by Dominika Cibulkova, 1-6, 76 (7-5), 7-5. A kid who may restore the lost fortunes of Australia, 18-year-old qualifier Bernard Tomic, eliminated No.5 Robin Soderling Saturday and hasn’t lost a set. His game is terrific as today’s victim Xavier Malisse found, 6-1, 7-5, 6-4. But Novak Djokovic awaits. The American lone ranger Mardy Fish knocked off 2010 finalist Tomas Berdych, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 6-4. He says it’s lonely as the last American.
Andy Murray didn’t know Kate and Bill were coming to watch him. But he noticed them at match point and bowed. “I wish somebody had told me they were here – I would have shaved.” Scruffy or not, he received a “Well done,” from the Duke and Duchess, meeting them after the match.
Now if he’ll just win the tournament, it would be a nice wedding present from him to them.