Over the past week, we have seen the annual pilgrimage of the union jack donning middle class to the hallowed lawn tennis association of SW19, following on the tradition of generations of the well to do, who flock to the Wimbledon Lawn Championships year after year. Many see this particular ‘Grand Slam’ as one of the few last examples of great sporting heritage anywhere in the world, for what with the lush green lawns and suit clad staff amidst the environment of the leafy green south west London suburb, the two weeklong event is ‘a cut above’ the partisan dominated Euro Championships, and the surroundings are surely more aesthetic than the often cold, modern football stadia of Europe. Reflective perhaps of the quintessentially British and indeed superior and more elite, privileged character of the tournament, the crowds it attracts year after year are decidedly privileged too – as far as their finances and background are concerned.
The distinct absence of ethnic minorities, bizarrely overlooked by the otherwise often vehement politically correct shoving press, is strange. The world of Wimbledon tennis it would seem, based upon ethnic, social and economic make-up, is decidedly fixed in its ways- the crowds are largely white and middle class, with Wimbledon merely an opportunity to show off one’s status as a tennis loving individual, who has both the time and money to spend working hours spectating the elitist sport that is tennis whilst scoffing over-priced strawberry’s in a silly looking sunhat.
With less than a month to go before the Olympics, it surely must be highlighted the true contrasting ethea of the two sporting events – the taxpayer funded and east end based Olympic Games are (rightfully) inclusive and representative of modern Britain, with social inclusion and promotion of a truly united British society at the very heart of the (expensive and publically funded) extravaganza. Perhaps disappointingly however, the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships, for right or for wrong, appears stuck back in Victorian times in terms of its inclusion (or lack of it), of supporters from further afield than merely the snooty microcosm’s that are prevalent in this thoroughly overpriced corner of London.
Many people may resent this perhaps damning affronting to the holy grail of the summer schedule of middle England – “Why should we be ashamed of the exclusive and heritage heavy nature of this annual spectacle? Why should we apologise for the lack of social diversity within the crowd?”
A further mechanism utilised by this class of people to try and exaggerate the importance of the tournament to the greater British public, is that of a concerted media effort, as blatantly obvious in wretched publications such as the Evening Standard, whilst the constipation of the BBCs TV schedule with exhaustive coverage and commentary of it is truly exasperating. The reality is that there exists a stark apathy for this tournament in the wider public…something that not even the isolated yet vocal outbreaks of Murray mania within this enclave of south east England, can hide.