Dear Timmy "The Tiger" Henman,
I hope this letter finds you well and enjoying your freedom now that the hopes of the nation are no longer on your shoulders. What have you been getting up to since retiring from the beautiful game?
I heard that you like to play a spot of golf – maybe we could have a little match sometime (or are you afraid I might beat you at that as well as tennis these days?!) Rafa likes golf too, but I prefer not to play him, after all, it’s bad enough being whipped off the clay courts by him, never mind the golf course!
I gather you did a bit of commentating on Wimbledon last year as well. I’m afraid I didn’t catch much of it. (I was busy working the nation up into hysterics by getting to the quarter-finals…I am sure you can relate.) But I did hear about your first attempt.
What are the chances that your first time in the commentary box would end up with you getting a sore throat and having to cut back in the second week? I guess life really does imitate art sometimes (no offense mate!) That’s probably never happened to Johnny Mac.
Anyway, the real reason I am writing to you is to ask for a little advice. You have always been a great friend to me, and given me plenty of helpful tips in the past (the one about using 'Ariel' washing powder to get your tennis whites bright was especially handy).
I thought that with Wimbledon being not too far off it would be a good time to get some guidance from the last guy who carried the expectations of a nation into the second best Slam of the year. (I personally dig the New York gig more).
Obviously everyone expects great things from me now. Some are even saying I’m going to be the world number two before the French Open. I am rather good I suppose; I’m already number four in the world and I’m only twenty-one! I believe number four was your best wasn’t it? (Again, no offense intended buddy – that is pretty damn impressive - but I think I may make it a little higher up the ladder eventually. I've already won eleven titles and that was all you managed in your whole career!)
So I can understand people being excited and all. I think they’ve even forgotten that little joke I made about the English football team.
It’s funny how people stopped accusing me of being grumpy and surly once I got to the finals of the US Open. Ok, so I didn’t win it, but I’ve sure shown Roger who is boss since that match – bet he’s wishing he didn’t give me that rather useful advice about becoming more offensive in my play now! (Sorry man, I know he is your friend.)
Anyway, I’m playing even better now and it did take Nole two attempts to win his first Slam title so I’m pretty excited about what all this means (although no-one ever seems to realise that just because I don’t go around with a big grin plastered on my face all day long.)
For the first time in a long, long, long while there is a real chance that someone from Scotland…sorry…Great Britain will win a Slam. So I totally understand the Murray mania going on in the British press. To be perfectly honest, I think it is more like the Rafa and Andy show than the Rafa and Roger show at the moment.
Still, I would be grateful for any advice on how to keep the stalkers away and the microphones from being thrust in my face all the time. Seems I always get bombarded with them around June.
Oh, and any tips on which practice courts are good to use if I want to avoid being tracked down by Sue Barker and interviewed for the gazillionth time about an easy match which I’m bound to win anyway?
At least you had Greg. I have no-one here to help take some of the press attention off me. It was great when that Chris Eaton kid got the wild-card last year but unfortunately he only made it to the second round and then it was “Andy! Andy! Andy!” all over again. I know my brother plays tennis, but no-one seems to take a blind bit of notice of the doubles.
However, I will admit that the support from the crowd can be brilliant. Last year it really helped me turn around my match against Richard Gasquet, so it’s not all bad. And I love getting Centre Court…some of the other guys got really jealous about that last year!
So, any advice would be most welcome. I hope you will be sitting on 'Murray Mound' when the time comes. (I’m sorry that it is not known as 'Henman Hill' anymore, really, I am.) Thanks again for all your help so far. I really do appreciate it.
Yours with the greatest respect,
P.S. Do you think you’d be able to put in a good word for me at 'Ariel'? I quite fancy carrying on the tradition of advertising washing powder. Cheers.
P.P.S. I was trying to think of a cool nickname for myself. I want something like ‘Tiger Tim’ but can’t think of many ferocious animals whose name begins with the letter ‘A’. Any suggestions? All I have so far is ‘Aardvark’ Andy and that is definitely not cool.