The evolution of a sport – and a nation

Wimbledon Park on Sunday morning. Lots of courts and lots of tennis.

I had almost forgotten. What it can be like when a nation comes to a stop, because of sports. Perhaps it was not quite the type of Stenmark halt that Sweden came to in the 1970’s, when the alpine giant speeded down the slopes. But for 2021, it is spectacular how many of the British spent their Saturday night in front of the TV watching the Women’s US Open final. In fact, it was so special that it deserves an English blog post from me.

As it happened, I spent this weekend in London. And not just in the city, but in Wimbledon. Perhaps the most tennisloving part of the planet. My friends tell me about how the neighbors compete at doing the greatest tennis decoration of their house and garden, during the weeks of the All England Championship every year. This could be explained, at least in part, by the view that greeted me during my Sunday morning run through Wimbledon Park. There is a lot of tennis played in that park. It may not have increased from Saturday night, and Emma Raducanu’s fantastic win at the Arthur Ashe stadium where she entered the championship as a qualifier, but there sure is every chance to get involved if you are interested.

As the British papers write about this being the greatest moment of British tennis ever, transforming elite performance into mass participation has never been an easy thing. Something tells me the British might just be able to do that though. Yes, tennis is still (considered) elitist and expensive, but here is a champion of the multicultural country of the modern day. She must be a dream come true for the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), and why not for the Queen herself, given that Emma is already believed to be in line for the New Year’s Honour’s list. And if somebody can manage that conversion, from elite to grassroots – and back again, perhaps it is the LTA. They have got the money, the personnel and the desire. And they certainly have the support of the British media. Now, it is up to you guys.

Just do it!

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