After many years soaking up all that Wimbledon has to offer as a player, I am now enjoying life on the other side of it all as part of the media. I have been at the Championships all week commentating on and summarising some fantastic matches. I talk about the flow and feel of the match, what a player might be thinking and try to give an insight that most have not had the opportunity to experience. I am working with BBC 5Live as well as Live@Wimbledon radio and I am having a blast!
It has taken a few days to get used to being the one observing and not doing, but as well as differences there are some similarities. A rain delay is pretty much the same for me now as a commentator as it was as a player. It is equally as frustrating, tedious and really we all just wait. The only difference is that it doesn’t matter now what I eat during the rain delay, whereas before it used to be a constant balancing act between being adequately fuelled but not too bloated so I could get on court within the next ten minutes if need be.
Another rather delightful similarity is that I am still surrounded by my tennis buddies, even on this side of the fence. As well as chatting to fellow commentators who are ex players, I have found that almost everyone I played tennis with growing up has a role here at the tournament. Faces I haven’t seen in a decade are popping up as well as some I run in to in the tennis world from time to time. Managing Live@Wimbledon radio is Jenny who was a top British junior in my age group, as well as Jess who is running the IBM side of things. There is also Paul in the Referee’s office, Sophie at the press reception and many more. It is fantastic that they have all got something out of the years and passion they gave to tennis and help to make the tournament what it is. I feel like almost everyone I know in British tennis is working for IBM totting up the stats for matches!
Players and the media are kept in entirely different sections behind the scenes and rightly so as the players need somewhere to switch off and not have journalists eaves dropping. But now I find myself wanting to pop in to the players lounge just to say hi to a few faces and catch up, however the change from a red badge to a green one doesn’t allow me to do this. I am sure I will get used to this in time but for now mentally I remain slightly between the two.
It has been an exciting and challenging week already as not only have I starting commentating I had an article published in The Telegraph. That was a very proud moment for me as I have always had a passion for writing, so to be in a national newspaper with something I have written was quite an achievement. I was asked to write the piece about life on the circuit and what it takes to get to Wimbledon and I think this has become even more poignant in the wake of the Marcus Willis fairytale we all enjoyed. I have heard many people claim that this is his breakthrough to the top but as I mentioned in the article, this is just not the case.
I really hope Marcus can make the most of these past couple of weeks as we have always known how talented a player he is, but ultimately he will be ranked 400 and will have to do what players ranked 400 do and get back on the circuit. I am not being negative just realistic and Marcus knows better than anyone what he needs to do if he wants to make the top 100 and it is a huge mountain to climb. He can really use this experience as a boost to his confidence and belief but there is still hard work to be done and a hundred matches to be played to get there.
Many players in the main draw of Wimbledon will have played challenger events this year. If you are ranked around 80 or so it is difficult to just play tour events as you can easily go on a run of losses if you draw seeds each week. So a number of top hundred players do in fact drop down to the circuit to get some matches and gain some confidence. Confidence only really comes from winning, and with all but one losing in each event it is not as easy as you think.