My Dad wasn’t into football. His one sporting interest was Formula 1 and every year he and Mum would go off to Monte Carlo for the Grand Prix. For Dad it was the cars and for Mum it was the glamour of it all. I don’t think she got much out of watching the race. She was watching the people. I didn’t go – I didn’t want to and that suited Mum and Dad just fine. They got a break from being Mum and Dad and I got spoilt rotten back home.
So it was left to Mum to introduce sport into the life of her son and inevitably her favourite sports became my favourite sports – cricket and tennis. Wimbledon fortnight was sacrosanct. The telly would be on from 2pm every day and not switched off until coverage ended. My early sporting memories aren’t of Kevin Keegan and Ray Clemence but of Arthur Ashe, Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe. And most of all, Virginia Wade. The last Briton to win one of the Wimbledon singles titles, by happy coincidence in 1977, Silver Jubilee year.
So this afternoon and I hope on Sunday I will be cheering on Andy Murray. He’s not one of sport’s great personalities, but then nor were Nigel Mansell, Nick Faldo, Steve Davis or Stephen Hendry. Like those great champions in other sports Murray is a dour, tough competitor for whom winning is everything. That’s why he will probably win a Grand Slam tournament, if not Wimbledon then probably the US or Australian Opens, and why nice Tim Henman never did.
However if Murray lifts the trophy on Sunday there will be a brief twinge of sadness that Mum is no longer around to see it happen.