Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.
Yesterday I was lucky enough to go to Wimbledon to watch the tennis.
Me and Wimbledon have history
I was born in Wimbledon and I went to school there.
My tennis career reached its zenith the moment I was selected for the Hounslow Borough U15 B team; a proud moment for the Ryan family. I had a good first serve, once every ten deliveries, with my Dunlop Max Fort racket, slashing through the worn out balls on the courts of Redlees Park in Isleworth. We even got a tracksuit; halcyon days. It’s fair to say with tennis, I even struggle to talk a good game. I didn’t even make the list the school sent to the All England Lawn Tennis Club for potential ballboys. Another dream double faulted.
However, I love watching tennis and in those schooldays during the Wimbledon Fortnight, we would disappear off straight after school (occasionally, perhaps frequently, during school) and sneak in; not a tough ask back then. It was pretty cool and a bit of a rite of passage back then as a kid.
Yesterday I walked through the main gates with an actual ticket, a centre court one to boot. I’ve got a great friend, Hannah, that heads up the analysis for British Tennis and she had provided these golden tickets that would mean I got to see Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer both play on the same day. I know. Epic.
Ralph Lauren, Prada and Primark
On top of that, two more great friends that I’ve known since those Wimbledon College days were there at the tennis on the same day as me as their son had made the cut and was a real life Ball Boy; Right Centre in Team W I think is his official position and ‘regiment’.
One of forty-two special force units despatched onto the velveteen green courts of SW19 over the fortnight. One hour on and one hour off for Cameron and his team as he makes sure the Ralph Lauren wristbands are pointing the right way. And you can sense how Cameron and his merry band of brothers and sisters try to ensure the anonymous face in the crowd that’s secretly scoring them gives them a maximum score of five, pushing them ever closer for promotion to a ‘show court’. I think a few friends have done that in Vegas.
We moved from the outside courts, through the crowds to Centre. Through the beautifully manicured grounds and happy crowds; the kids and parents having the time of their lives, overseas visitors not sure whether to shout a bit louder or clap a bit softer. Salmon trousers and white knobbly-knees. Prada and Primark. It was all there and it worked wonderfully.
The main course and I guess the inspiration for this blog was still to come.
Now Novak Djokovic is an amazing player and he looked every inch a world class athlete. It was great to see him play, but the head turner was Roger.
Like a Monet or a Kandinsky, you need to see him live to really appreciate who he is.
The last time I was as blown away by such effortless grace was trackside watching Wayde van Niekerk just never slow down, smashing the 400m World Record and Winning Gold in Lane 8 at Rio. I remember seeing him glide through the finish and then turning to the big screen to see the time and instantly thinking that’s just not possible.
Wayde van Niekerk and the World Record in Rio 2016
Athletes like Wayde and Roger do that to you. They prove there is another level beyond World Class and beyond almost everyone else on the planet.
Federer moves so well and with so much precision and timing that it just has this ethereal feeling to it. All done with grace and purity. It’s Roger Moore, Rudolf Nureyev and the Dalai Lama.
Wandering thoughts and overthinking
My brain doesn’t seem to quite work as it should. It goes off road and gives me thoughts that don’t seem to pair with what I’m seeing. As I watched him I couldn’t help but wander off in my head to ponder that we should all be, unapologetically, our true selves.
It’s so easy to fall into line and just step on the treadmill. Easy to walk past something you don’t agree with or keep quiet as you hear something you don’t believe in being said. Easy to follow and easy to conform.
Try to just take a few moments a day to sit peacefully with your eyes open and let your thoughts fall. Being a human being is a tough gig but we often make it harder by overthinking and under dreaming. Look after yourselves out there; you got your back.