I remember everything about the first day I visited Wimbledon in 1981. I could probably even tell you what I was wearing that day. It was the opening Monday of the championships, I was six years old and my mum and I were lucky enough to have two tickets for Centre Court. When Björn Borg walked onto the court, he was five times defending champion, it made a huge impression on me. I think the biggest impression was because he was winning! And when you’re a kid, it’s much more fun to support someone that’s winning, so he was definitely my first tennis idol. That’s when I made my one and only career decision. I was dreaming of playing at Wimbledon.
I come from a tennis family, my mother was a junior player, my grandparents played mixed doubles together at Wimbledon and even my great-grandmother played there in the early 1900s. My great-grandmother was actually the first lady to serve overarm, and my grandmother was the last lady to serve underarm at Wimbledon.
Being the smallest, the weakest, the slowest in my family, I had to learn how to compete to keep up. I’m not necessarily sure that my mum and dad really believed that I could be a very good player, but they wanted to give me an opportunity because they could see how much it meant to me, how my desire and the love of the sport was evident. My family environment is definitely the defining factor in me evolving as a person.
When I finally had the chance to play at Wimbledon, I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to get out there, I wanted to have fun, and I’d prepared well for it. Every time I stepped on the court, the picture in my mind went back to a six year-old boy who was dreaming.
It was on that day in 1981 when I first saw the Rolex clocks on Centre Court and asked my mother what Rolex was. That was when I first had a vision and a hope that one day I might own a Rolex of my own. Fast-forward 32 years until I owned my first Rolex, which is this watch, it means an awful lot to me, it was definitely worth the wait.
When I look at my watch now, my mind immediately goes back to being a six year- old in the stands with my mum. My mother has photos from that day and I think we even have the tickets still at home, so when I was asked if I would like to tell the story behind my watch, I forwarded my mother the request and said: “Do you remember?” And she sent the reply back saying, “I remember it like yesterday”.