Tennis fans will just ‘love’ Wimbledon 2022

Monday: Wimbledon 2022 - (BBC Two, from 10.30am; BBC One, from 1.45pm)

By Claire Cartmill
Sunday, 26th June 2022, 5:00 pm

Freshly cut green grass, pristine tennis whites, big juicy red strawberries, and crowds sipping Pimms on Henman Hill – Wimbledon fortnight is always special.

After the 2020 Covid cancellation and last year’s reduced-capacity tournament, SW19 will again be awash with the iconic sights and sounds that we have come to associate with the Championships.

And not only will the 2022 tournament mark the return of fans without any restrictions, but Wimbledon is also celebrating another special milestone – the centenary of the iconic Centre Court.

Sue Barker announced she was stepping down from her role after this year’s tournament

Although everyone is thrilled to have Wimbledon back to normality, this year’s Championships will also be tinged with a bit sadness, as the face of the BBC’s coverage calls time on her career as a tennis presenter.

Earlier this month, Sue Barker announced she was stepping down from her role after this year’s tournament.

The corporation offered the 66-year-old a three-year extension on her contract, but after the death of her mother Betty earlier this year, she made the decision to hang up her mic.

“It has been my dream job and I have loved every minute of it working so many great colleagues who I am going to miss so much,” she says.

There won’t be a dry eye in the house when Sue hangs up her mic following the men’s final in 13 days. But before that, there is a feast of world-class tennis to enjoy.

As is tradition, the men’s singles champion gets the action under way on Centre Court this afternoon, as Novak Djokovic begins his quest to win his fourth straight Wimbledon title.

Victory at SW19 will take the Serb star one ahead of Roger Federer and one behind Rafael Nadal who has 22 Grand Slam titles to his name after winning at Roland Garros.

Other than Djokovic and Nadal (if he plays), the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Denis Shapovalov and last year’s runner-up Matteo Berrettini will all be hoping for success at Wimbledon.

And then there’s two-time former champion Andy Murray – can the Scot get the nation behind him and mount another serious challenge?

His recent form at the Stuttgart Open, suggests he might have a surprise or two left in him yet.

And unlike previous years, there are other British hopes in the men’s draw.

Cameron Norrie has enjoyed a stellar couple of years, but has never gone beyond the third round of a Grand Slam, so he will be hoping for improvement.

On the women’s side, Polish sensation Iga Swiatek is already a two-time Grand Slam winner after capturing another French Open title a few weeks ago.

Her main challenger at Wimbledon could be Coco Gauff – the 18-year-old from Florida who was beaten by Swiatek in the Paris final.

And finally, if she takes part, much of the British focus will be on Emma Raducanu.

Since her incredible US Open triumph last year, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year has struggled with injuries, illness and loss of form, so she will go into Wimbledon as an outsider.

Nevertheless, with Ashleigh Barty now retired, there is an opportunity for a new All England champion.

And if Emma, or any other of the Brits, could triumph in Sue’s final tournament as presenter and in the Centre Court’s 100th year, it would make it even more special.