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Courting-Well: Tennis Season

Once upon a time when my ego was even bigger than it is now, my tennis instructor told me I was going to be a Wimbledon champion. This made me particularly excited because a) I lived in Wimbledon at the time so this meant a very convenient Summer season and b) I liked the sound of ‘champion’ generally.

At the time, I played at our country club - and aforementioned instructor kept encouraging me to play with my right hand (yes, I’m a leftie). He said I was too talented to be a left-hander; it would ruin my chances going forward. Of course, this was nonsense and once my mother found out, she did her scary-mummy-thing and alas, my left-handedness turned out to be an advantage. I won the Junior matches (my opponent could never anticipate my backhand).

Now if you see me on a tennis court, you will surely wonder how in the hell ever I was genuinely considering this as a career path. It takes a lot of gusto to be a tennis champion - and I just didn’t love it enough.

My tennis season these days consists of a yearly tradition with my oldest friend, V; whereby we go to Wimbledon, sit in the member’s enclosure for most of the day and drink copious amounts of champagne before getting a Pimms and meandering slowly towards Centre Court (we’re almost always late for the start of the match).

I’m gonna say it’s not all that bad.

But first, my season kicks off at Hurlingham Club for what is now the Aspall Tennis Classic (it used to be sponsored by BNP Paribas). It’s actually one of my favourite events of the year because it’s unlike any other I attend. It’s not at all pretentious; everyone is legitametly there to have a good time and no one is up their own ass (or that of the photographer’s) trying to get their picture taken for Bystander.

It also never rains. Never.

This year, I spent most of the drive down to Ranelagh Gardens looking down at my Manolos and up at the sky. It looked ominous. Ok fine, who am I kidding? It was bucketing it down (I’m an optimist when it comes to English weather). The girls who escorted the Good Man and I down to the party were carrying umbrellas. They advised it would be announced in the next fifteen minutes whether or not play would go ahead. I looked at the tennis courts - no way was play going ahead.

Ah well, champagne it is then. And it seemed everyone had the same idea. The hall was booming with laughter and happy chatter. And a Rolls Royce strategically placed in everyone’s way (I shan’t venture into my thoughts on the black grill/blue body combo). We headed straight for the bar and alas, I had completely forgotten that the bubbles were now sponsored by Nyetimber.

Now I know what everyone’s been saying about English sparkling wine, ‘oh there are some fabulous choices out there!’ Yes fine, perhaps we’ve come quite a way but not to the extent that this could ever be equivalent to champagne. I commiserated for a moment; tennis season for me means white label Lanson. But I only commiserated for a moment because I’m not that spoilt (I can see your eyes rolling through the computer screen and I know you are) - no really, I even got a packet of crisps with my English sparkling.

Outside, the crowd was dotted about underneath umbrellas; so we did the same. And lo and behold just as we sit down, I spot one of my favourite persons ever: Mansour Bahrami. I can’t tell you what it is about this man but beyond his jest on the court and brilliance of his game, it's the sparkle in his eyes that make him ultimately a wondrous human being. Plus, our outfits were totally coordinated; with my blue and white striped Ralph Lauren shirt harmonising with his blue and white striped tie.

A voice came on the speakers to let us know play had been cancelled but that Greg Rusedski would be competing on the ping pong table inside instead. My afternoon spent exchanging jokes with Mansour; he then decided he too would take on the ping pong challenge. The Good Man and I made way to dinner at Zafferano shortly afterwards.

Wimbledon was slightly more serious - albeit, only slightly. V and I decided that this year, we would drag our mummies along with us (much to their dismay). After so many seasons, both mummies are slightly bored of seasons but we felt a ladies’ day was in order.

Thankfully, order of play was the gentlemen’s matches. V and I almost always go for the women’s semi-finals which are great but between you and I, I far prefer watching men’s tennis - especially if Federer is playing.

As per usual, we opted not to go to the top floor of the member’s enclosure for lunch but rather find a table on the level below to bask in the sun. And also as per usual, we were running late so finding a table was tricky. The four us ended up sharing a table with two gents who were nice enough but talked far too much.

My favourite Lanson firmly on the table and in our glasses, smoked salmon sandwiches all around and I remembered once again why I love this time of year so much. V and I left our mummies at that point to go and watch Djokovic and Gulbis on Centre Court. It was fun because I was rooting for the underdog; who also just so happened to be quite good looking (absolutely unrelated, of course).

Obviously, we got a Pimms first to take in with us because I don’t care what anyone says, the Pimms at Wimbledon is unbeatable.

I always try to get a stripe and a little white in my outfits for tennis season. This year was no exception with my black SportsMax dress which has two white stripes on the skirt. Luckily, the member’s enclosure has become slightly more lenient in recent years because I simply had to pair that dress with my patent Louboutin espadrilles - which subsequently, are open-toed. Previously, you absolutely could not wear an open-toe in the enclosure.

Taking a break from the match, V and I rejoined our mummies for afternoon tea. I needed my strength in the form of sugar before the match with Federer started. He is an absolute champion in every sense who also happens to be Swiss and really charming.

Alas, another Pimms later, the match went into the evening as did our champagne-ing and dinner that followed.


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