02 July 2007

Tiger “Tim” Henman 1974-2007

Tiger “Tim” Henman, for many years Britain’s greatest hope of losing winning Wimbledon, has gone to the great practice court in the sky after being knocked out of the second round of Wimbledon this year by a combination of torrential rain, flooding, terrorist attacks, the death of Tony Blair’s Premiership, the end of smoking in public and not being quite good enough at tennis.

Tiger “Tim” Henman was born in 1974, with a silver strawberry in his mouth, the newest addition to a great British tennis family – his father a keen tennis player and both his grandfather and great-grandfather competitors at Wimbledon, making their millions in the cut-throat world of lucrative strawberries and cream concessions.

Slapped by the midwife “Tim” astounded his parents by returning the open-palmed volley – sending his umbilical cord across the maternity room with a beautiful top-spin smash (although he later lost to the midwife 6-3, 6-3, 7-6, 7-6, 6-0). He was immediately given the name “Tiger” – not because of his tenacious fighting spirit and ability to rip his opponents to shreds but because of his uncanny resemblance to the moth-eaten and broken-toothed tiger-skin rug the family had inherited from Great Aunt Letitia.

From an early age Tiger was encouraged to follow his natural talent, but like most children he quickly rebelled and decided instead to become a tennis player, a pursuit in which his passionate displays earned him the equally passionate sobriquet "Tim".

“Tim” quickly rose through the junior tennis ranks thanks to his extraordinary skill and dedication and the fact that all the juniors who are any good at sport are playing football, rugby or training for athletics. Having mastered the basics of tennis – the serve, the volley, the sliced cross-court return (although until the end of his career he failed to convincingly punch the air like he meant it) – “Tim”, in the absence of any real competition, soon graduated to the seniors circuit where he was greeted at Wimbledon as the second coming of the British tennis messiah and, everywhere else, as “that useless Brit who doesn’t even have the excuse that he’s actually Canadian.”

Unlike many successful tennis players, “Tim” refused to indulge in the competitive gamesmanship of his rivals, abstaining from barracking his opponents or the umpire and always remembering his manners, saying “please” and “thank you” but mostly “sorry” to his fans and Sue Barker after every match. So, it was a surprise that, in only his second Wimbledon tournament in 1995, he became the first player ever to be disqualified after smashing a ball into a ball girl’s head (although the ball girl later won in straight sets).

Despite this “Tim” quickly captured the imagination of a generation of British fans desperate for a hero, completely ignorant of the rules of tennis and relishing only the chance to drape themselves in a Union Jack and bellow “do come on, Timothy” at a crucial point in the match – normally as their hero was returning a difficult first serve or trying to work out how to operate the Robinson’s Barley Water dispenser. Indeed “Henmania” reached such a fever pitch that the size of his celebrity and his fans’ undying devotion led to the christening of “Henman Hill” – a scruffy mound on the verges of Wimbledon, nearly several feet high.

Tiger’s frustrating losses on the Grand Slam circuit were easily compensated by his amazing Wimbledon performances – as year after year he was knocked out by the rain (or, in 2002, by wild card David Blunkett). But his gritty determination still won him the support of his fans as he clawed defeat from the jaws of victory, all the while punching the air (although he later lost to the air in straight sets in the first round of the French Open).

With the rise of tennis player Andy Murray, Tiger’s status slipped and he became Britain’s Number 2 – a status his harsher critics had been euphemistically granting him some time. As he entered this year’s Wimbledon he fought valiantly to beat Moyà in the first round before succumbing to Feliciano López in the second in a five-set struggle that “Tim” lost only after his Adidas-sponsored wellingtons were stuck in the mud on Centre Court. The spell was broken – as his mentally-disturbed loyal fans and the media realised that Henman was not the name of his superhero alter ego and that the Tiger had miaowed its last.

Tiger "Tim" Henman will be buried at the Fred Perry Church of Nostalgia. The service will be too fast for him to return, but the congregation will struggle on as the final eulogy is delayed by rain for 24 hours before being knocked out in the last set.

He is predeceased by Greg Rusedski and survived by Andy Murray – the spotty 20-year-old with “wrist” injuries.


chef said...

As a dodo
2006 (ish) – 2011

The dodo, that most curious, that most forgiving, that most damn right bloody stupid of birds brought about its own demise. It simply walked into the bullets and swords of the invading Europeans. As a dodo, the once regional specialist of writing fictional obituaries of as yet undead people, places, events, political ideologies, films, sports and anything else that can give up a cheap laugh, did the same thing last night. Almost. It walked straight into the blunt tennis racket of Tim Henman, the world number one and the oldest winner of the tennis Grandslam in history.

As a dodo was laid in 2006 (dates vary to the exact date due to the birth mother hiding the birth certificate when she put her baby up for adoption) with a scathing satirical attack on that most difficult, that most tenacious and hard to pin down enigma of one Mr David Beckham. News reports at the time were sketchy as very little had ever been written on this Mr Beckham before, especially anything with such cultural and sporting insight into his haircut, his tattoos, his voice, his free kicks or his penchant for wearing sarongs and so when the first blog went out, the internet hiccupped.

Although the world was coming to grips with a new culture of blogging, it simply wasn’t ready for the mass clamour that ensued publication. Google had to suspend its search engine and call in eBay technicians to wire their two global supersonic mega servers together to cater for the tidal wave of traffic that cascaded towards asadodo.com. Binary page counters had to be used as regular digits could not handle the influx of individual page hits, all dying to read this satirical renaissance that was going on.

As the dust settled the comment box was left shattered and had to be reset to its current capacity of 1 comment, the scar being an ever present reminder of those heady days in late 2006.

As the year and the inevitability of Christmas and New Year ensued, asadodo.com continued to unleash tirade after tirade on an unsuspecting public. Stealthily disguised as educated, informed, witty and relevant comic pieces on the state of a nation, these arrogant and often maniacal rants were merely a façade for the writers to lambblast the already lambasted, ridicule the already ridiculed, belittle the already belittled and castrate the castrated. And the British public sucked it all in through a comedy shaped straw.

From Paris Hilton to The Olympic Games; Scotland to David Cameron; Britney Spears to Price Harry and that never ridiculed President of America to peerage acquisition the public were educated and taught a lesson in original satire. Never had these topics been discussed in such a funny, entertaining and coarse way. They must have felt like they were Bill Hicks, like they were John Lennon, like they were inventors of fine wine such was their originality.

Success followed success. Writing slots on Chucklevision, Up Late with Mel and Sue, He’s having a baby and Hollyoaks (They actually didn’t write for Hollyoaks as satire had moved on by this time and they were seen as too immature for such an audience) followed and in late 2007 they published a book.

It was in the summer of 2007 however, that the seeds were planted for their final demise. When Tim Henman, the best British tennis player of two generations, perennial semi-finalist, gentleman and really rather a good tennis player got knocked out of Wimbledon, As a dodo, quick as a cheetah on a speed binge, knocked out a guardian readers dream of an obituary. Using every cheap jab, every broken uppercut, every already used a thousand times haymaker (boxing analogies? Check) they wrote his epitaph. Unfortunately for these Audrey Harrisons (easy isn’t it?) Henman was listening.

Using their vitriol, Henman got up and wiped himself down. He forgot that for 2 weeks every year he had made what would otherwise be a dull tennis tournament one of the highlights of the year for a multitude of sport fans. He pushed the epic five setters to the back of his mind, he let go the hurt of losing to Peter Sampras in 2 semi finals; losing to the greatest player the world has perhaps ever known certainly must make Henman feel bad. He curled it all into a dodo shaped ball and he trained. He trained like Rocky. He ran up those steps, he hit those tennis balls like they were the last tennis balls left in the world. He ran and ran and he climbed back on that tennis racket shaped horse. And you know what? He won. He won and he won.

By the end of 2008 he had won every Grandslam on the ATP tour. He repeated the feat in 2010 (he took 2009 off to concentrate on his bludgeoning wrestling career where he was known as the Badass of the WCDFGE federation) becoming the oldest tennis player to ever do so. Under heavy, iron laden skies at SW19 last night, July 4th 2011 he made the last play. The last serve and volley of his career as he bowed out in the quarter finals to Roger Federer (who hasn’t won a Grandslam in 3 years as Henman keeps winning them all). On his way out of the court, after a 20 minute standing ovation and Red Arrow flyover he tripped on one of the roses that had been thrown onto the Tim Henman Arena (Centre court being renamed in his honour last summer). The racket he was holding fell from his grasp and lodged itself in the eye of asadodo, killing it instantly.

It leaves behind no friends, no family and no acquaintances as it had none.

The As A Dodo Team said...

Calm down dear! It's only a blog.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Haha! Why can't he just retire and do himself [and all of us] a favour? I mean, it's so boring, year after year! Mind you, I speak as one who wouldn't even be able to see the ball, let alone hit it, but I wouldn't enter the World bloody Championships. And therein lies the difference - or something.

r.m. said...

O dear what a pity. What have you done to the apopletic chef? Whilst I admit that Henman was easy meat and perhaps not worthy either of your pen or choice I do feel that the chap (I cannot attribute such small minded,ill considered, badly executed irony to a woman) has really got it in for you. I wonder if he is blogger whose book failed to get taken up or is Tiget looking to carve out another career. If the latter he will achieve a greater standing than in his sporting days.

Anonymous said...

Tim really was the victime of our natioanl inability to produce something wortwhile in the tennis world. From the days of Bobby Wilson and Geoff Paish through Billy Knight Mark Cox Buster Mottram even the lovely Roger Taylor we have been a little poor on the green sward as well as every otgher alien surface. Each player has had to carry the over hyped Press induced hopes of our nation. I think here that we could learn from the James Bond actor that Murray is SCOTTISH and the rest of us should not claim any aprt in his dameaged wrist. The rwason why Henman deserves your scalpel is that he has unlike the other heroes made an awful lot of money out of being the equivalent of a number 36 in USA twenty seven in Oz and perhaps sventy sixth in Rumania.

L. S said...

Chef seems to be quite a fan in that he/she knows alot about your blog. Pity the same cannot be said for his knowledge about Blogs.I think it is a sad case of sour grapes.

optimus prime said...

Tricky one with Henman, he always seems so nice it almost feels wrong to have a dig at him. I suppose herein lies the English mentality to sport and its continual under achievment. I dont think making money out of being pretty good at tennis and entertaining a few people is a bad thing though, people make a lot more doing a lot less.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious post, most amusing. I do feel sorry for the old bean 'n' all, but he's probably made millions from never actually winning anything, so on second thoughts, i don't.