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Canadians at Wimbledon

by Kim Krenz

Like many of us, I have been watching the tennis at Wimbledon. I was a reasonable club player in the now distant past, so can feel some kinship with today’s players. However, the feeling does not go very far. The game today can hardly be called a game. It has become almost a life and death struggle for high stakes. The game has moved away from Australia and the U.S., and has moved to Europe, particularly the Slavic countries, where some fine players are being produced every year.

Thank heaven that Wimbledon has retained some of the traditions of the game. It gives me much pleasure to see the players wearing the traditional whites. It adds, for me, to the pleasure of watching the play. The alternative dress in other venues has been a staggering variety of costumes, with the Williams sisters setting the pace in outré garb. The male costumes tend to drab, work-a-day wear, of any colour that catches the wearer’s fancy. Yes, yes, I know they are still good players, but tennis began in the Middle Ages as the Sport of Kings. Players have something to live up to.

Into this highly competitive arena have come two Canadian players, Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard, who have, for the first time, brought Canada to the attention of fans of the game. Raonic is, of course, of central European origin, but never mind, he is Canadian, like many other central Europeans. Miss Bouchard represents the French aspect of Canada, though you wouldn’t know it from the way she speaks English. Both are extremely good looking, and both are credits to the Canadian tennis system.

At the time of writing both Canadians have won their matches and have advanced into the final stages of the contest. Raonic very nearly met his demise, and squeaked through to a victory from the playout of a tie. Eugenie won her match hands down, but had to sweat for it.

It was amusing, during TV breaks in the match, to watch her at work in the kitchen, preparing a delicious repast of some featured delicacy, while we were aware of the fact that, at that moment, she was engaged in an exhausting struggle on the tennis court. Her TV clips of preparing a meal are, of course, a source of income; and her sterling performance at Wimbledon is a guarantee of more income. Winners at Wimbledon in either men or women’s singles are looking at something like one and one half million dollars in prize money, and that is just the beginning. Eugenie may be getting paid almost that amount for her antics in the kitchen.

That, of course, is the reward most players are seeking. Even runners-up are being paid fifty to one hundred thousand. Tennis has become big business, and that is why it is no longer a game. Wimbledon may cling to the formalities of tennis whites and green lawns, but that is merely a façade for performance on the courts. Some players at Wimbledon hate those green lawns. Djokovic, a star player, has a style that causes him to slip, slide, and fall on grass. I am pretty sure I caught him mouthing curses in Serbian after one of his falls.

The greatest of the lot among the men is, of course, Rodger Federer, the Swiss Knight who has won seven Wimbledon championships. Our own Roanic came up against him this morning and was defeated, though the score was by no means lopsided. Federer is to meet Jokovic in the men’s final. It will be a close match.

Post Scriptum: It was a marathon of five sets in four hours; with the younger player, Jokovic, the winner.

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