“Ladies and gentlemen, please could you turn off your mobile phones and refrain from calling out during points.”
Never will these words and noises have sounded so sweet. OK, never have these words and noises sounded remotely sweet and never will they do so again. But in the 144 years Wimbledon has existed, it has failed to crown a champion on just 11 occasions: four during the first world war, six during the second world war, one during the coronavirus war. Now, though, we’re back in business, luxuriating in the rare certainty that a fortnight of brilliance, love and joy awaits us. We’re safe.
The men’s competition looks open and shut. With the tricky one already out of the way, Novak Djokovic is halfway towards an unprecedented open-era grand slam, and if he can win here he joins the other two absolute freaks of nature on 20 [twenty] majors. Of course, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev and a dark horse by the name of Roger Federer have their own ideas, but ultimately it’d be a significant surprise if this latest bid for affection failed.
On the women’s side, though, no one knows anything. Simona Halep, the defending champion, is injured; Ashleigh Barty, the top seed, hasn’t played since injuring her hip at Roland Garros and has never gone past round four; and Serena Williams is Serena Williams. On top of which, it’s impossible to know which of Petra Kvitova, Bianca Andreescu, Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka, Angelique Kerber and about 985 others will find their best form, but at least one of them will, at which point it’ll seem like the most obvious thing in the world. Or, put another way, this is going to be great.
“Can everyone please settle down, the players are ready. And … PLAY.”
Play: 11am BST