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A home from home for Wimbledon tennis stars


Gil Elvgran illustration
‘Have you had any interesting things left behind?’ Well, tennis balls, old trainers, healthy foodstuffs; Joanna is struggling for something noteworthy to say. ‘And some splendid foreign language adult magazines’, she finishes with a triumphant flourish. I kick her under the table but the plaster cast on her broken leg is a substantial construction, courtesy of Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, and she feels not a thing.

We had picked up Reuters tennis correspondent Pritha Sarkar from the roadworks disaster that is currently Wimbledon Station and spent the day visiting the houses that would become home for the Wimbledon tennis stars of the centre court. It didn’t help that Joanna’s leg was propped up on the dashboard of the Mini, or that I was doing the driving for the first time in a few years.

A beautiful, sunny day in Wimbledon photographing interiors for the website, picking up keys, collecting details and chatting with the owners. Pritha is good company, funny, knowledgable, and the owners are happy to explain the ins and outs of moving house for two weeks a year when the worlds greatest tennis players settle into SW19. We stop for coffee at a café on Ridgeway for a stretch so Pritha can interview Joanna properly and I leave them to get a newspaper. Returning after a secret cigarette, it’s all good. Lots of interesting facts & figures, lots of tennis-lore, everything needed for a solid, informative Reuters editorial, Players find home from home in Wimbledon, everything going so well.

There are vain attempts to steer the conversation to the less controversial Squirrel Incident of 2009, but it is too late; Pritha smiles sweetly, ‘Oh dear, Joanna, what kind of magazines?’

Congratulations to Ben @theratandmouse for being the first to actually put it in the title: Renting your home to a Wimbledon tennis ace, it’s all about the p**n

Words by © 2011 Ken Sparkes.

Pinup image by the wonderful Gil Elvgren, one of the best artists from the golden age of American illustration.

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