I can hear the crowd buzzing outside. They are as impatient for this moment as I am. This moment I have spent my entire life dreaming of.
All those days spent sweltering in the heat of the midday sun, racket in hand, searching for the will power to push myself forward.
All those long nights spent lying awake, imagining my name being cruelly rejected by the game that I worship, as if it were some unrequited lover.
All those days spent questioning whether this was the life I was supposed to lead: miles away from home, my loved ones and all that I once held dear.
All those times when doubt, a stealthy emissary, crept inside my mind and had to be swiftly eradicated before its seeds began to grow.
All those memories…they have been leading me to this moment.
I can see the player ahead of me. I know that the crowd are awaiting his entrance.
I am merely “the opponent.”
I am here by luck of the draw. Fate, shall we say?
I am not deluded; I know that the crowd are here to watch the man on the other side of the net.
I know that my job is to get the ball back over the net; to allow him to entertain the crowds with his exquisite shot making skills, his artistry and his magical touch with a racket.
They have not parted with their money to watch me steal the show.
They will not remember my name when he lifts the trophy in two weeks time.
But I will remember.
I will remember floating, dreamlike, down an endless corridor of bright white light.
I will remember looking into the eyes of my idols as they watch me walk down a path which is so new to me but which they have walked many a time before.
I will remember experiencing that rare and overwhelming combination of emotions: piercing fear mixed with immense excitement.
As I step forward, I take a minute to glance up at the famous lines…
“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,
And treat those two impostors just the same”
...and I force myself to believe that I have a chance of meeting with that first impostor.
I follow the man who has done this so many times before, wishing that I could possess his serenity.
As we step outside everything becomes one big green blur.
I hear the crowd roaring as the man in front of me turns and waves.
I wave too and smile as I realise:
This can be my stage.
This can be my audience.
This can be my moment.
This is my time on Centre Court.
Never have I been surrounded by so many…
…yet never have I felt so alone.