You know that lawn tennis used to be better when…

Jul 4, 2013, 12:00:00 AM

In your world, there's an entire mythology around lawn tennis; aces, chip-and-charge, and knights of the net.

In your world, there's an entire mythology around lawn tennis; aces, chip-and-charge, and knights of the net. But that was before. Before Wimbledon's executive directors decided that Roland Garros shouldn't have a monopoly on endless trials of strength from the baseline. The grass slowed down, the balls swelled and, for you, grass-court tennis has lost its magic in the last decade. So yes, it used to be better, when...


... All traces of grass had not disappeared from the baseline of the courts by the second day of the competition.

... Even Björn Borg, so painful to watch on clay, became enjoyable at Wimbledon, where he indulged in the regulation serve-and-volley.

... The same goes for Ivan Lendl. But he, despite his best efforts, has never won Wimbledon. Thank goodness...

... There's nothing more beautiful in your eyes than a drop shot or, the ultimate delight, a high backhand volley. The net separates the tightrope walkers from jobbers.

... If only Andy Roddick knew how to hit a high volley, he would have won Wimbledon.

... The names of Becker, Sampras, Ivanisevic and Krajicek are music to your ears.

... The muffled sound of the ball brushing against the T before ending its journey against the tarps: the most beautiful murmur in the world. One that only depends on you and that the 90s champions help elevate into an art form.

... You know that the real surprises, happened at Wimbledon. Roland Garros swoons over Dewulf? Wimbledon saw Voltchkov, 237th in the world and straight out of the qualifiers, make it to the semi-finals and then disappear forever. Alongside such a meteor, Dewulf was a stalwart at the top.

... You worship Indian tennis players. The real ones, Amritraj, Krishnan, Paes, not this current Bolletierian ersatz, Devvarman...

... The seven-time winner of the tournament didn't find it appropriate to wear a golden blazer before entering the court.

... Your idol used to wear shorts that were much too wide, stuck out his tongue when serving and whose early receding hairline pointed to premature baldness. But once the ball was in play, he was the most beautiful.

... Borg / McEnroe 1980 > Nadal / Federer 2008.

... And the Edberg / Becker era at Wimbledon was something far superior to the Spanish-Swiss omnipotence of recent years.

... Your best tennis memory is Ivanisevic fairytale in 2001.

... The last legitimate Wimbledon final in your eyes was in 2003. Two serve-and-volley artists, face-to-face. From the following year, even Federer betrayed The Cause by staying comfortably at the baseline most of the time.

... A match in five sets could last 2hours and 30minutes. And have 60 aces. The perfect shot, we told you.

... So you had a perfect excuse for not doing the dishes and taking out the trash: five minutes away from the TV? It takes less than that to win or lose a set!

... Even the few baseline enthusiasts such as Connors, Agassi and Hewitt sublimated their styles against their opponents.

... The winner of Roland Garros systematically fell apart on grass, and so clumsily that it was actually funny.

... The Spaniards and other South Americans didn't even bother to cross the Channel...

... Players didn't smile when they were told they would play against an Australian, even if he was completely unknown.

... The Roland Garros – Wimbledon double had not yet been become passé

... A vintage Boris Becker year could be measured by the number of times he dived head first into the turf.

... The venerable Cup of the oldest tournament in the world wasn't suffering from bite-marks from a pirate-pant-wearing Mallorcan.

... The French, transparent in Paris, discovered their garden-legs in London...

... And Amelie Mauresmo realized the most beautiful French result of the Open era, to complete indifference. Well, it wasn't very clever to win Wimbledon the same weekend as Zidane's head-butt...

... The one-handed backhand used to be the ruling shot of tennis. The shot of Kings. To use two hands is nothing but a sign of weakness.

... You've always had mixed feelings about McEnroe: A genius of the yellow ball, without a doubt, but definitely a character more suited to a New York circus than to the London Temple.

... The subjects of Her Majesty never missed an opportunity to remind Greg Rusedski that he was Canadian.

... While on the other hand, if Andy Murray wins at the end of the week, the same people would gladly throw a veil over the Scottish identity of their hero, who wore a provocative Cross of St. Andrew on his cap at the beginning of his career. No one would dare to quibble about a birth on the wrong side of Hadrian's Wall at the expense of a first Wimbledon title since 1936.

... Henman Hill maintained the sweet illusion of an English success at Wimbledon.


By Guillaume Willecoq