Hello. The skies are grey, there’s rain in the air and more than little uncertainty, but at least Wimbledon’s here to offer us some respite from reality. Reality. Curses to reality. There’ll be none of that here over the next fortnight. For example, now that we’ve got our country back, you’d have to assume that both singles finals will simply be a British free-for-all, Johanna Konta and Heather Watson and Naomi Broady and Laura Robson deciding to share the women’s title, the good old-fashioned way, and a tag-team of Brits teaming up to smite some FOREIGN chancer to claim the men’s final. Hurrah! Hip hip! Huzzah! Hooray! What a country. We’ve got it back.
Unfortunately, as the last few days have proved, you can’t live outside reality for too long. So we probably shouldn’t expect James Ward, 29 years old and ranked 177 in the world, too detain Novak Djokovic for too long in the opening match on Centre Court. Laura Robson is on the comeback trail after wrist trouble but the former British No1 has seen her ranking slip and her task is daunting against Angelique Kerber, the Australian Open champion.
Then again, what is sport if it’s not a chance to dream? Today life imitates art of sorts, with 25-year-old Marcus Willis, who is set to rise from his ranking at world no706, seizing his chance in qualifying and making the first round for the first time by beating Daniil Medvedev on Friday. Willis, a left-hander who makes a living from coaching and club tennis, only got a spot after Scott Clayton’s last-minute withdrawal at Roehampton. Today, incredibly, he is in the Peter Colt role, up against Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis on Court 17. If he beats the world No53, he could face Roger Federer in the second round.
But there’s a familiar name. Federer is back at his second home after missing the French Open with back trouble, still hopeful of winning his eighth title here and 18th grand slam overall, ready to take on Argentina’s Guido “Fawkes” Pella. The problem for Federer? His likely semi-final opponent is Djokovic. It’s hard to look past the world No1.
Beyond those two giants, the usual suspects are here today. Kei Nishikori is up against Sam Groth, Milos Raonic faces Pablo Carreno Busta, David Ferrer meets Dudi Sela, Marin Cilic duels Brian Baker and keep an eye out for an all-Croatian affair first up on Court 8, where the rising Borna Coric will try to deal with a barrage of aces from Ivo Karlovic.
In the women’s draw, the defending champion doesn’t start until tomorrow. We must wait to catch a glimpse of Serena Williams, who’s still not got that 22nd major in the bag. But we will be treated to the sight of her conqueror in the French Open on Centre Court. Garbine Muguruza is hungry for more after losing to Williams in the final here last year, before clumping her in Paris, although the world No2 will need to have her wits about her against Camila Giorgi.
Elsewhere Venus Williams, the No8 seed, could have her hands full with Donna Vekic on Court 1, Madison Keys faces Laura Siegmund and Simona Halep will hope to see off Anna Schmiedlova without too much stress.
It’s a tennis feast! Let play begin!
Play begins at: 11.30am BST.