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. . .to hear the silence fall"

On their way to the centre court the players pass through a door above which is written in silver lettering two lines from the epic poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling:

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same; . .”

The combatants then head out onto the arena, to be greeted by expectant applause, a blaze of colour from the crowd, waiting officials, watching commentators, the long lenses of the press and, hopefully, a clear blue sky.
A coin is tossed to decide who is first to serve followed by a few moments to “knock up”, then the umpire will give the call to play. . . .

At the top level, provided players are fit and sufficiently skilled, so much is in the mind. Often you see players having difficulty “closing out” a match, maybe because their opponent is fighting back, or maybe because they do not, in their heart, believe they can win. A crucial moment is the serve on a big point, the crowds will cheer the last stroke of a rally, and then, silence will fall over the court. A silence so quiet that it is deafening. The server tosses the ball into that silence in order to serve – this is when the mind can dance – will it be a crucial ace, or a fault ? A win or a loss ? A match sliding away or still to be won ? No wonder players often consult a sports psychiatrist.

The picture is Number One Court - another wonderful arena - our Centre court visits were pre-digital !

  • Last visit to Wimbledon: Jul 2006
  • Intro Updated Aug 17, 2006
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