Five thoughts on day one of the Olympic tennis tournament:
Amid all the new, technicolour weirdness of the All England Club, some things are still the same – the arguments that Roger Federer and Serena Williams are the greatest ever male and female tennis players, they still hold. There was already much to link the two thirty-somethings who won the Wimbledon singles titles earlier this summer, and they also have this in common: neither has an Olympic singles gold.
That could all change over the coming days, though Serena won’t always have Michelle Obama watching her from her family box, as she did for her first singles match against Jelena Jankovic. You wonder which of the two would gain more from a singles gold. I have a feeling it would be Federer, who always seems more emotionally involved at the All England Club than anywhere else in tennis. Or maybe it would mean more to Federer’s supporters. It would certainly give them a way of countering the argument put forward by Rafael Nadal’s fanbase that he has won everything of note in singles and Federer hasn’t. Serena, by the way, has said that if she wins the gold she will go straight to McDonald’s and have a fish burger. While there aren’t any golden arches on Henman Hill, you can be sure that McDonald’s executives would have appreciated the namecheck.
Anyone else wondered, as they tried to get used to the colours at the All England Club, whether Danny Boyle has been helping with the creative direction of the tennis?
Andy Murray never looks as stressed-out as when he plays doubles with his brother Jamie. That’s because he’s so keen to win for his older sibling. Murray flung his racket across the grass during their opening-round defeat to an Austrian pairing; he didn’t do that once during his seven singles matches at the Wimbledon Championships.
Michelle Obama is doing as much for the profile of American tennis as the Wiilliams sisters are.
Maria Sharapova has achieved a great deal in tennis – already this year she has completed a career slam, and worn a great hat at the Opening Ceremony. On Sunday she becomes an Olympian when she plays her first singles match.