The last Monday in June always signifies to me the real start to the British sporting summer with the first day of Wimbledon kicking into action at SW19 with an abundance of strawberries & cream, Pimms & Champagne to help the festivities flow. This year sees a high number of Brits lined up in the first round in both the Men’s and ladies halves of the draw with 15 taking to the hallowed turf of the All England Club. High expectations this year are placed on of course world number 2 Andy Murray to repeat his success of 2013 and lift the men’s trophy, but also there is a real hope on the Women’s side of the draw with Joanna Konta ranked 18th in the World.
One noticeable absentee this year is the loud shrieking shrill of Sharapova. Suspended for two years in June 2016 for testing positive for the banned performance enhancing substance meldonium. Do not fear though, if you feel you will miss her distinctive tone as there will be others to fill the decibels left in her absence on court. This year sees one note able entrant in the voice of the Brazilian Teliana Pereira who echoed around court number 7 in her contest today against Varvara Lepchenko. The grunt/shriek/chant that followed every shot was consistent to say the least and as one of the ground staff duly noted, carried through until the Miss Varvara was about to hit her shot. Once heard it was strangely hypnotic and impossible not be drawn to it. No one around us could confirm what the grunt was saying and we couldn’t be sure it was Portuguese, some have even suggested she shouts ‘AUS – TRA – LI – A’ each time, but, this was hard to clarify. Perhaps it is a way for Miss Pereira to keep focused and provide a rhythm to her game or breathing. It certainly affected all of us in the crowd at court side so who knows the affect it had her opponent and their ability to play. However as Miss Pereira volume increased it seemed that Miss Lepchenko’s did as well in response. Over the years it certainly has become more evident the volume of shrieking in the Women’s game which at times can be very difficult to listen too. Is there an advantage gained? Is there none? Does it use up more energy? In this case it was of no assistance to Miss Pereira as she was the unlucky looser in the three set contest. I take nothing away from the talented Brazilian as she was an accomplished player who was playing some fantastic tennis and had clearly earned her right to be playing today.
As everything seems to mention the Brexit right now i thought i’d include how the Brits did their bit today too with another large exit of six heading home in the first round. However, there is still hope with congratulations to Dan Evans and Marcus Willis both progressing to the second round and of course with Murray, Konta and Watson all playing on Tuesday.
As the sun set on south west London and the green lawns of the All England Club and i strolled out the gates and couldn’t help but hear the distant chant in my head of Miss Pereira. I’ll be trying to figure it out for days….