Sunday July 7th 2013 will go down in history as the day Britain finally had a male singles champion at Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.
Years of hurt and humiliation was wiped aside as Scotland’s Andy Murray beat Serbian Novak Djokovic in straight sets. It was the hottest day of the year so far – I checked the temperature whilst I was sunbathing and it was 28 degrees. It was reportedly 40 degrees inside Centre Court.
I thoroughly enjoyed the match, despite being an avid follower of football and admittedly someone who only really takes any vague interest in tennis when it’s the last weekend of Wimbledon. This year I was glad I jumped on the bandwagon – it was one of the most exciting sporting occasions I can remember in a long long time.
Not as long as 77 years, though. Whilst the front and back pages of the nation’s favourite tabloid (and even some broadsheet) newspapers were busy rhythmically admiring the Scotsman who was simply sublime on the day and thoroughly deserved to win, I couldn’t help but notice the rhetoric.
It’s a strange phenomenon that takes hold of the British press when there is an occasion like the Olympics, a Jubilee or an England football game – it’s all of a sudden back to the Jessie Pope-esc patriotism and jingoistic ‘our boys’ refrain.
This time it was a little different – I must admit, as I usually write about football it was an absolute pleasure to watch two sportsmen with such class, dignity and humility and Djokovic was a true gent when he spoke after the match.
But what gets me is the assertion that Britain hasn’t had a Wimbledon singles champion since Fred Perry - it’s simply not true, Britain just hasn’t had a male singles champion at Wimbledon.
The Sun stated emphatically on Monday: “At last, after 77 years Murray and British tennis are finally free of the ghost of Fred Perry.”
Since 1936, Dorothy Round Little in 1937, Angela Mortimer Barrett in 1961, Ann Haydon Jones in 1969 and Virginia Wade in 1977 have all won Wimbledon – the ladies singles title, that is.
I really resent having to get on a soap box and bang on about it but their achievements are equally as important and historically legitimate as Andy Murray’s and I really hope, for the sake of the likes of Laura Robson, for example, the tabloid press, along with the BBC, sort out their attitudes towards female athletes.
No one cares if male athletes are aesthetically pleasing on the eye – at least not in the same way John Inverdale patronized and insulted this year’s ladies singles champion Marion Bartoli – and if I learned anything from Wimbledon 2013 it was that either female athletes’ achievements aren’t as important as how they look or that they just aren’t important at all – at least not compared to their male counterparts.