Wimbledon: A green and pleasant land
Green and pleasant – that is what best sums up England. Or at least in the mind of the Olympic Opening Ceremony’s artistic director Danny Boyle it does. The Slumdog Millionaire director is lavishing £27m to transform the Olympic Stadium into the British countryside to open the 2012 Games as he has deemed that it is this that best reflects what this country is about.
But with the start of Wimbledon yesterday, we were reminded that if it’s green and pleasant one is after, there is already a little corner of London where it can already be found.
The courts and balls are green, as one would expect. But then so is the signage, the chairs, the drinks cups, the souvenirs. If something can conceivably be made green, it is. Even the sponsors, so powerful a force in elite sport, are seemingly treated as the crass, albeit necessary presence that they are. Their logos are given the Wimbledon treatment, turned a yellow that compliments the aforementioned colour.
The 494,761 spectators who attended the tennis tournament last year, those who will attend this year, and all those who’ve passed through SW19 in the tournament’s 126 year history partake in what is surely the most pleasant of all sporting events. “It’s so civilised,” one spectator told me during yesterday’s action. When a ring tone goes off and the umpire reprimands the perpetrator, it’s always greeted with widespread applause. The civility is at times stifling, and everyone wants to be a part of it.
The staff – conspicuous by the fact they are one of the few non-green things in attendance (they wear official looking hats, shirts and blazers) – are charming. Many of the younger ones appear to be on a summer job. Something for them to do during their holidays from what one expects would be deemed a ‘good’ school.
This green and pleasant land takes the idea of Britishness further, revelling in that other notable trait of ours – tradition. The insistence on players wearing white, that (English) strawberries and cream are the snack of choice, the men and women competitors are still referred to as gentlemen and ladies, right up to the reigning champion opening proceedings on Centre Court – as Novak Djokovic did here yesterday.
Yet, as Britain is a paradox, so is Wimbledon – with progression and modernisation intertwined with the old. They put a space age roof on Centre Court and in 2007 commendably decided that the winner of the ladies’ singles title would win the same as the gentleman’s.
Boyle is right – green and pleasant is a good reflection of the Britain we should celebrate, and here at Wimbledon those elements are on show in abundance.Tagged in: olympics, Wimbledon
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