At the very venue that Ivan the Terrible deemed fit for cows, twenty long years ago, a returning master has produced a cheese and wine championship for us to clink our glasses at. In the interim, many other men have courted the All England Club. She has been party to many fine flirtations - Pistol Toting Americans, Gun slinging Germans, Net Picking Swedes. Searing Serbs, Curious Croats, Scintillating Spaniards. There have been many impostors to the throne of the King. But today, four days after the fourth of July, history will record, and remember, the usurping of American dominance and the establishment of the Federeral Empire.
On Saturday evening, at the turn of this weekend, there was hope in the heart of a British boy. At the start of the second set on Centre Court, perhaps there was expectation. At the end of it all, there can be nothing else but admiration. In his heart, and that of his countrymen. And indeed others from around the globe. For Roger, like Rick Blaine, is a citizen of the world. Foolish are the filial who point to the fingerprint of finesse. There are knives. And then there are Swiss knifes. And they are the finest, and the most dangerous. For one is taken in by their class and the charisma, one forgets they are made of steel. Whipping forehands down the line for fun wins you a game or two. Winning break points on the boil saves you a set point or two. Sashaying to the net and delivering drop volleys from heaven itself, maybe a Grand Slam or two.
Greatness is that brief moment, before the millionth ball toss, as you crouch at the baseline, and pause.
As the silence strangles the Centre Court air, and the lights begin to dim.
As the whispers of a few thousand faithful start to grow into a chant.
And the wind that blows north west and through, begins to steadies itself to watch.
As the knees, buckle, under the expectation of a planet of believers.
As the hand reaches, and strokes gently, a golden lock, as the pupil begins to focus.
As the shoulder tenses, the forearm flexes, and the racket presses into the boot.
And the ball, as it is tossed, and the eyes meet the glint, of the warm afternoon sun, resplendent.
And a leap. And suspended. In one fluid motion, the crack of the steadfast second serve.
And the slither. To the net. Halfway as the chalk, flies off the line as it lands.
And the return, that arrives, as an opponent puts behind, everything he’s got, and a little more.
And the silence. As ball meet racket strong, The tense. As the strings cushion. And repel.
The kiss. Of the net cord. And a moment of suspension. As the heavens hold their breath. And the earth inhales.
The landing. The lunge. Game, set and match. And eternity erupts in joyous uproar.
The collapse, involuntary, face buried in the grass. Suckling at her bovine bosom.
The tears. Of a champion. The travails of an Emperor. The return to majesty of the prodigal son.
This is not the tale of twenty twelve, It is the diary of a near decade.
This is not just the story of steamrolling the scores, but of the defiance of the Djoker and the slaying of the Spaniard.
This is not for those who roar at Roland Garros. This is for those who weep at Wimbledon.
It is the writing of the rise, and the recording of the retreat. And then in finality, the chronicling of the comeback.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to Centre Court. Welcome to the Championships.
- Varun Ram Iyer
Varun Ram Iyer grew up ripping underarm off breaks, flying down the flanks at right back and disputing line calls in local hand tennis matches. He then went to B-school and graduated to playing the field. He can be reached at www.facebook.com/varunramiyer