I walk through my apartment door in SW19 and I’m bowled over.
Not in a cricketing sense you understand, but by the public response to my impending Wimbledon final tomorrow afternoon.
There are bouquets of flowers from admirers all over the world – from Serbia and Scotland, from the USofA to the Straits of Menai via the bars of Dublin – which reach from the floor to the ceiling. There are cards, and more cards, telegrams and yet more cards. So many cards and begging letters that I lose count. There are faxes and reams of emails and final demands by the shed load. I gather them all up and drop them in the bath. I can look at them later.
There are sponsors’ gifts – specially designed chocolate boxes, intricate trinkets and bags and bags of tennis rackets – all with my face adorning their protective covers. They’re using the photo of my first-round victory where I’m looking up at my wooden racket with a look of astonishment on my face. I’m not sure why they’re using that one – there are many more with me in action on the court which would be much better images for the youth who will follow in my wake after this fortnight.
Amidst the tsunami of fan mail, severed horses’ heads and indescribable underwear, I find the most satisfying emblem of my recent success: my local club have formulated a new youth policy in light of the hundreds of young children from near and afar who have come knocking on their doors, demanding to meet their local champion, expecting to breathe in the same air as he, and be honoured to share the same bar and curled up sandwiches on a Saturday afternoon.
My success, in short, has breathed new life into an ailing tennis section of an ossifying amateur sports club and the committee are now having to wake up to the realities of the 21st century.
And whilst of course nothing is guaranteed in this most frustrating of sports, what I am confident of is that my legacy on my local club cannot be ignored. Mrs Lady Chairman, the consistently dangerous grass surfaces, the warm keg beer, the disrespectful thirteen-year olds – these will all be things of the past when, at shortly after 4pm tomorrow afternoon, I lift up on high what is rightfully mine: the trophy of the Wimbledon Men’s Singles Final
We may not be a powerful tennis nation, but my story will inspire generations.
Like our glorious Olympic successes of 2012, it will lead to invigorated tennis policy in schools; to droves of happy families taking to their local courts over the weekends; and to a resurgent economy which catapults us back into the world as the leading economic powerhouse.
The future of empire has never looked so bright.