Inside view: What caught the eye at this year’s Wimbledon

‘Poor Del Potro!’ I said, more to myself than to my husband, while reading the report on Andy Murray’s famous Wimbledon victory. But my words carried and my husband responded with a vague, “Who is this Del whatever?”

The solar scam, along with national disasters and global climate change, had been getting his complete attention to the exclusion of earth shaking events like the Wimbledon thrillers.

“You don’t know DEL POTRO?” I was aghast. “Juan Martin Del Potro? World number seven, no less! Don’t know Delpo, the Tower of Tandil, the gentle Argentine giant who played that heartbreakingly close semi-final match against Djokovic? Murray owes his Wimbledon trophy to him. Delpo drained out Djoko, just as he had drained out Federer in the Olympics semi-finals when Murray went on to defeat Federer for the gold medal. Murray ought to thank Del Potro for doing him these favours, but did he? No! And he almost forgot to thank his mother, tiger mom though she may be. As for poor Nadal…”

My poor husband looked confused. “Does all this really matter?” he interrupted me. He likes only team games, read cricket. “And don’t keep calling those spoilt multi millionaires “poor”. Kerala politics is any day more interesting.”

Oh yes, the twists and turns in the solar scam plot may be very diverting, but I am sick to death of scams. If it isn’t Coalgate, it is Callgate. Such notoriety is nothing to smile about. No more scams. Give me Slams instead, Grand Slams, the grander the better, with their own versions of excitement. Top tennis players might be stinking rich, but at least they play fair for their money, unlike the players in the scams.

This Wimbledon had its share of unique features. Nadal was dispatched in the first round, but no sooner had Federer sighed in relief and whispered under his breath, ‘Thanks, Steve (Darcis), I knew you were on my side,’ than he too was out in the cold. But not before his shoes created a soul stirring controversy.

The Wimbledon dress code, as typically prim and proper as anything else that is British, requests players to dress in a primarily white outfit and Federer’s shoes had, yes, orange soles. You can’t wear orange and pretend it is white. The colour caught the eyes of the organisers who might have said ‘Off with your shoes!’ but being polite Britishers, they probably just blushed orange and couched the ban in courteous language.

“What about Serena Williams’ brilliant orange shorts?” some close watchers of the game’s players protested.

But Wimbledon has a different set of rules for foundation garments and the noise quickly got reduced to a whimper.

Federer changed his shoes and promptly lost the next match. Thankfully, he didn’t cry while the manufacturers had the last laugh, for the publicity following the ban helped that particular brand of shoes get sold out in no time.

Djokovic’s shoes were the next to draw attention. Have you heard of pimples on shoes? Well, some shoes do have them, at least Djokovic’s had till he was asked to scrape them off.

Pimples, apparently, are studs on the outside of the toes, and are banned. Djokovic obliged, his shoes lost their protective grip up front, and he fell and slid his way to the finals.

In fact, falling was the defining feature of this year’s Wimbledon. Seeds kept slipping and whined and complained about the grass as they fell by the wayside, giving rise to the silly joke, ‘Why will there be no grass in Wimbledon next year?’ ‘Because there are no seeds left.’

It was an absorbing and unusual Wimbledon all right, what with the women’s champion Marion Bartoli purportedly claiming to have an IQ of 175, above that of geniuses like Einstein and Hawking.

So why then, you may ask, is she playing tennis? Maybe because it is any day better than applying your intelligence to plan scams.

As I took a second glance at the paper, another headline caught my eye, the wonderful feat of Tintu Luka and the rest of our 4x400 relay team at the Asian Athletics Championship.

At last, here was something for us Indians to cheer about - a golden lining in the general cloud of gloom.