Tawdry Stich up is putting the heat on Serena
Were there to be a contest to find the worst male player to have won Wimbledon in the past 30 years,Michael Stich would challenge hard for the honour.All I can remember about his 1991 triumph is that he beat Stefan Edberg in the semis without once breaking his serve; and then didn't so much win the final as have it handed to him on a platter by a bewilderingly out of -sorts Boris Becker,who spent the match ranting on the baseline after the fashion of Freddie Starr's Fuhrer impersonation.
That was Herr Stich's only Grand Slam singles title,but it was enough to establish him as a perennial member of the radio 5 Live commentary team,where he is joined by his chief rival for that Worst Champion laurel in the revoltingly sour and tidious shape of Australia's Pat Cash.
It is from this vantage point that Herr Stich saw fit to question the honesty of a player infinitely greater than himself,accusing Serena Williams of exaggerating an injury during her thrillingly unlikely win over Daniela Hantuchova.
Miss Williams, to recap briefly,collapsed in screaming agony with cramp(her calf muscle,according to Annabel Croft, stuck out from the leg by two inches) before somehow recovering after a rain delay to take the deciding set.
Herr Stich and others have questioned how Serena contrived to hop up and down on the injured leg in frustration. Not being a physiotherapist I cannot say, but I do know after any severe attack of cramp pain persists for many hours.I also know that,during a long career, Serena has shown no signs of being a cheat.
Far from it,both Williams girls have always been models of sportswomanship on court,and paragons of charm,wit,and amiable good grace off it.And yet for some curious reason there is far less respect and affection for these splendid young women,despite the shocking murder of their sister,than for the hatchet-faced Justine Henin.
At the French Open,where the crowds are notoriously poisonous ,we can put this down to semi-overt racism of the kind at which the French excel,but at Wimbledon we might charitably ascribe it to their lacking the daintiness those ineffabbly Home Counties audiences prefer.They are big,powerful women who like to bludgeon opponents, and to some their style is aesthetically displeasing.
To me , they are goddesses not merely in name because they, uniquely , can win major titles even when out of condition and form.Wildly overweight,and sporting a pair of breasts that could have streched in opposite directions across the Pacific to suckle Peru and Hawaaii simultaneously,Serena stormed to the Australian Open title in January.
Two years after unexpectedly wining her third Wimbledon,meanwhile,Venus is closing in on an even more outlandish fourth having entered the tournament with no form whatever.
She is moving and playing marvelously.The emergence of these wondrous sisters as world numbers one and two, under their father Richard's eccentric but brilliant tutelage, remains one of the sport's most uplifting stories,and their continuing ability to challenge for titles,despite having outside interests in film and fashion,only inflates the legend.
If and when Venus has upheld the family's honour in the final,I will look forward to live footage of her ascending to the radio 5 box and inserting the championship plate as far as she can up the first arrogant,misogynitic German arse she encounters.
WHAT A LOVELY ARTICLE BY MATTHEW NORMAN FROM THE EVENING STANDARD.