Bard of the Backhand: Wimbledon Appoints Poet

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British soccer fans are known for their raucous chants but the genteel folk who frequent Wimbledon tennis expect something a little more highbrow. They’ve now got it.

The world famous Grand Slam tennis event has appointed its first official poet in the form of Matt Harvey, who is a regular contributor to a BBC radio show and a lifelong fan of the sport. He told the British broadcaster, “Quite simply I’m delighted, with a little bit of healthy anxiety thrown in. It’s an honor, and I’m acutely conscious it’s the only time I’ll come first in anything at Wimbledon, unless you count the queue for strawberries.”

He’ll (ahem) serve up a daily poem over the course of the two week Slam, which will be available as a podcast or on the (ahem) net. They’ll also be a blog, as well as the inevitable Tweets. But if you want to hear these verbal volleys in person, Harvey will also be entertaining the fans in the line.

And poetry is nothing new to the likes of Roger Federer and Andy Roddick down at London SW19: the immortal opening words to “If” by Rudyard Kipling (“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same”) is inscribed above the players’ entrance to Centre Court. So spare a thought for Harvey as he attempts to follow in those footsteps. Mind you, that will be nothing compared to the pressure that British star Andy Murray will be under as he undergoes the annual attempt to become the first British male to win a Grand Slam since Fred Perry back in 1936.

To read Harvey’s first effort, “The Grandest of Slams”, click here.

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