The Australian Open is on at the moment and every morning I switch on the television to be greeted with images of French players battling it out down under. And every morning I ask the same question: Why are there no British players playing?
There was one, Andy Murray, who was knocked out in the first round. But the French seem to have a never-ending supply. This seems a bit rum, after all we invented the game, didn’t we?
Up to a point. In the 19th century the English invented lawn tennis, but it was based on Real Tennis which had been played in France since the 12th Century. In fact the word tennis comes from the French tenez meaning get it in the context of Real Tennis.
One of the criticisms levelled at the French educational system is that they don’t do enough sport or art. This may be true. But we have Wednesdays off to do all that and on Wednesdays my children all trot off to Pezenas Tennis Club where they have tennis coaching with other children.
The fact is they may not do tennis at school but it is made very easy to do it outside of school and every village, no matter how small, has a tennis court.
I would love to see one of my children represent England in the Australian Open one day and I know where they should be brought up if they’re to stand a chance.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2008
As the great John Newcombe said to me at a barbie in Wollombi a few years ago, the trouble with Brits, apart from the whinging, is that you will never learn that you can’t build British tennis around a pussy like Henman.
But don’t worry, the French aren’t going anywhere either, at least not the men. Too busy worrying about their hair and suntans to play tennis. Roland Garros is the only tournament I’ve seen where the cameras pull away from a final game at match point to show Jean-Paul Belmondo taking off his sunglasses.
Good luck with the kids training. It’s a good discipline.
Why no picture of Marat Safin? It’s the only reason I visit your blog.