What a great sport our September speaker turned out to be! Wendy Smith, our “Wimbledon Line Call Judge” had arrived early and not only helped with us getting into the Library, but also got the tables and chairs out! She can certainly come again! Her talk was very interesting, too – even if you weren’t a tennis buff. She told us she had been line-judging for 38 years, but – experienced though she is – she and all the other line-judges have to go through the application process every year, starting in December when they fill in the application form. They even have to visit smaller tournaments throughout the UK to show their prowess over several days of matches, and once selected they are placed in teams and allocated their courts at Wimbledon. Standards are extremely high and they have to wear particular uniforms, (designed by Ralph Lauren, incidentally!) and there are rules for how to wear them, too! They are given a leaflet showing the details, for example – if they are wearing a skirt, they have trainer socks which don’t show above their new trainers, and if they have trousers on, they wear short socks with the cuffs turned down! As well as watching the lines they have to keep tabs on the score, in case the umpire loses track, and also listen to any mutterings from the players on court to make sure they don’t use foul language – in which case they have to be reported to the umpire and disciplined accordingly! This actually happened in the 2001 semi-final when in the final set of the match between Andre Agassi and Pat Rafter, Wendy reported Agassi’s bad language and he received a code violation notice from the main umpire!
Over the years, Wendy has made a lot of lifelong friends who she stays in touch with by email, even though they only actually meet up for the Tournament itself. She had brought some memorabilia with her for us to see, including menus from the After-Finals dinners, personal press cuttings and awards and books and articles about various players. Her favourite player is Roger Federer, as she says he is a highly talented but modest player and a real gentleman. She also said she misses players like John McEnroe, who was a controversial character (she admits) but who never actually swore, and only lost his temper when a point was in question. In many ways it made games “more lively and interesting”, Wendy said. Now she really admires him as a tennis commentator!
Our next meeting is a theatre visit to see “Kinky Boots” at The New Wolsey, when 20 of us will enjoy a night out. All the info about our Autumn Programme is on our website – have a look, you might be tempted to come and join us!