As I write this they will be rolling back the covers and counting out the strawberries for Wimbledon, which celebrates its 140th anniversary this year. All British hopes will be on Andy Murray once more, although his sore hip and recent variable form – as well as a rejuvenated Federer and Nadal – means that we face one of the widest open fields for the championships in years.
Every time I watch Wimbledon and see players sign autographs and hand out their towels post match, I wonder how much these treasured collectables might be worth in years to come at auction. To be honest, most are so common that it will take an age for them to command any sort of decent price, but occasionally a fan strikes lucky, as when 19-year-old Murray Whitelaw caught Andy Murray’s prize-winning racquet when he tossed it into the crowd after Team GB won the Davis Cup in December 2015. The initial valuation of the racquet at the time was £10,000 – and Murray (the fan) sealed its provenance with media coverage, including a photo of himself with the tennis star.
Whitelaw vowed that the racquet would never be for sale and that he intended to have it framed. Good for him. I should imagine that with Andy’s 2016 Wimbledon win, World number one status and various other trophies added since, that racquet would be worth a fair bit more by now.