77 years of hurt never stopped these tennis fans dreaming.
Just hours before Andy Murray aims to make history against Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final, hundreds of fans were joining the queue despite being told they were in for a five hour wait.
There is just no stopping these fans, who would go to the ends of the earth to show their support for Murray, tennis and sport.
Not all of these fans are British though, many nationalities have been swept up in Murray Mania.
I ask Joanne Lucic from New Zealand why she was sitting in the scorching sun waiting for hours to see a British tennis player.
“I’m crazy! I’ve been swept away by the hype, my friend Amy is a huge fan. It’s fun queuing with these guys, the whole day is a ball,” the 33-year old said.
“I’ve also been influenced by the media coverage on Murray. I wasn’t keen on him before but now I’m ‘Go Murray’ all the way. The media have brought out his personality a bit more – last year when he cried it was a big winner with the crowd.”
For brand Murray – those infamous tears on Centre Court cannot be underestimated. That was the moment the doubters let Murray into their hearts.
“I was on the hill last year. It was a heartbreaking moment. Everyone was in tears and the whole place went silent. That turned a lot of people to support him and the Olympics as well. People have turned to sport a lot more,” says 28-year old Brit Rachael Evans.
The Olympics showed British people love their sport, but with numerous sporting events taking place over the summer, this love affair isn’t ending anytime soon. Particularly when British sport is on a high with recent cricket, rugby and golf success.
Tennis on the other hand is a different story.
Everybody will be watching Murray and if he wins the happiness factor will be through the roof. And maybe there will be some tears of happiness this time
“For 17 years I’ve been camping here in the hope of someone British winning the final.”
Not continuously, 57-year old Brit David Brown informs me.
“Wimbledon is fabulous and quintessentially British. It’s everything about Britain, the queuing, the politeness – I was talking to some Americans tennis fans earlier who said it was light years ahead of other Opens.”
Whether it’s better than other tournaments is debateable, but what makes Wimbledon special is that Murray is contesting a Grand Slam on home soil. Something rare, with a Serbian, Swiss and Spaniard making up the top four.
American Andy Roddick was the last man to win his home grand slam at the U.S. Open a decade ago.
“Everybody is interested, everybody knows he is in the final even those not into sport. They all want to know about it,” says David.
“British love sport and the Olympics proved that. It raised the feeling across the country and it’s the same today. Everybody will be watching Murray and if he wins the happiness factor will be through the roof. And maybe there will be some tears of happiness this time.”
If you scour the Wimbledon queue hard enough, you will bump into a Serbian fan. And the beauty of it is they won’t be surrounded by aggressive Brits lobbing bottles at their heads.
Tennis, at its best, is very different to football at its worse. Win or lose, fans of all nationalities are going to have a good time. Goodwill defeats aggression.
“I’m not very confident to be honest, it’s intimidating the amount of support Murray has. I support Djokovic but I will be pleased for everyone if Murray wins,” says Serbian Anna Ivanovitch.
One man I passed even sported a sign saying “Keep calm and support Djokovic,” he told me he had received no death threats so far.
Other than the Andy Murray clan itself – the people taking the event most seriously are the kids. During the two weeks I’ve spent at Wimbledon I have been infected by their youthful enthusiasm and unquestioning support of their hero.
Today, right in front of the big screen, will be a group of little ones screaming his name until their voices run hoarse. And in amongst them perhaps there will be a future Andy Murray.
Lots of these children are right now waiting hour after hour to see him – a remarkable feat achieved without bribery or corruption from parents.
I spoke to brothers Michael and Joseph, from Murray’s homeland Scotland, who had been queuing for five hours with their father.
“I don’t care how long I wait as long as I see Andy Murray,” said six-year old Michael.
Children waiting patiently in queue – perhaps this is the best way to describe the Andy Murray phenomenon.
Joanna Tilley is a freelance journalist working with Al Jazeera on the Sport website and reporting from the Wimbledon Championships.
Follow her on Twitter (@joannatilley) or her website, http://mythoughtonsport.blogspot.com
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