Wimbledon commentator and former top player Tim Henman talks tennis coverage on the BBC, Andy Murray’s Wimbledon chances and what he really thinks of doing Strictly Come Dancing…
How is the race for the Wimbledon men’s title shaping up this year?
“Novak Djokovich’s defeat in the French Open shows he’s human and it’s possible to beat him but just like Stan Wawrinka was that day any player will need to be exceptional. Djokovich has still had the most incredible year and will go into Wimbledon as the favourite.”
Is Andy Murray stronger than last year?
“Andy did so well in the French Open semi final although he eventually lost to Djokovich in five sets, so he will fancy his chances at Wimbledon. When Andy won Wimbledon in 2013 he actually wasn’t in great form because he missed the French and was really struggling with his back. He’s in great shape physically now and has just played the best clay court season of his life. There are lots of positive signs for Andy.”
Is it hard to go from the gruelling clay court season straight into Wimbledon?
“It’s a lot better this year as there’s an extra week between the end of the French and the start of Wimbledon, which I think is a huge advantage for everyone. It gives everyone more time to adapt and make that change.”
Andy got married recently. Would you say married life helps a player perform well?
“It’s easy to look at both sides of that equation because Stan Wawrinka’s had a pretty different difficult time off the court and he’s played fantastically well recently. But in an ideal world a settled life off court can give you a good foundation to play well from. The way Andy’s played since marrying and how Djokovich has played after getting married and having a child has been very impressive.”
Judy Murray did Strictly last year, would you consider it?
“It’s not for me. In fact I’d rather stick pins in my eyes because I’m no dancer. I’ve been approached a few times to do it but I’ve always said no.”
Wimbledon has its famous ‘Henman Hill’. How do you feel about some trying to rename it ‘Murray Mound’?
“Henman Hill is forever! You can’t suddenly change the name. Whenever they get the camera on the big crane to look down on it I always say there’s my hill. I like to hang on to it!”
Who’s the likely winner of women’s singles?
“Serena Williams is favourite. She didn’t really play her best tennis in Paris but won because she’s such a phenomenal competitor. Sharapova is always a threat to her on grass, though. Kvitova has won twice so it should be interesting to watch her too.”
What about Britain’s Heather Watson?
“She’s done well. She’s about 45 in the world, she’s fit and healthy and she plays well on grass because she moves very well. She’s a great competitor so fingers crossed she can have a good run.”
What’s it like for you commentating on Wimbeldon?
“It’s brilliant and I absolutely love it. I’ve known Sue Barker since I was 10, Andrew Castle I’ve known since I was 16 or 17, and John McEnroe since I was 21, and I have a lot of really good banter with Mark Petchey. So it’s a great team and we all really enjoy what we’re doing.”
Do you long for those days 10 to 15 years ago when you were playing your best at Wimbledon?
“Of course I reflect and I’ve got many great memories on Centre Court – that’s the 1 per cent I miss. The other 99 pc, all the discipline, all the tournaments, all the training and the travel I don’t miss in the slightest. I just love being at Wimbledon and watching the best players in the world play. I suppose I really miss the camaraderie in the locker room and the friends you made on tour because you don’t get to see them so much, so Wimbledon is definitely a time to catch up with old friends.”
Do you ever watch your best games at Wimbledon back on Youtube or dvds?
“No. I’m not someone that really dwells on the past too much. There’s one picture I got given of me playing in my dining room but I’m enjoying myself in the present.”
Do you still keep relatively fit?
“I stopped playing in 2007 and for the first 18 months I was pretty lazy but the less exercise I did the worse I felt and the worse my back got. I’ve got a gym at home so I’m in a pretty good routine. I use it most days. I don’t really play a great deal of tennis, I play more golf and I’m scratch at the moment. It’s a good change of scene. There are plenty of tennis players who play golf on tour when they’ve got a day off and I’ve always enjoyed it.”
Wimbledon coverage begins on BBC1 and BBC2 on Monday June 29