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Last Updated: Friday, 21 September 2007, 18:02 GMT 19:02 UK
Henman's fitting finale?

By Caroline Cheese
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Tim Henman
An emotional Henman waves to the Wimbledon faithful after his win

So farewell, Tim... Or is it?

Henman, who has been desperate to avoid any undue fuss over his impending retirement, left his fans in the dark as to whether he will play again during this weekend's Davis Cup tie.

But if this is his final match, it will be a fitting end: A comprehensive win over Roko Karanusic, in which the Briton was able to demonstrate his grass-court skills, to put his country on the brink of qualification for the elite World Group.

A typical day at Wimbledon this was not.

No five-set rollercoaster from our Tim? Britain's favourite tennis son betraying his emotion by bending down and kissing the turf before burying his face in a towel?

And was that the usually inscrutable Tony Henman with a trembling chin?

The 11,400 capacity crowd lapped it up anyway. They may not have had to sleep on the pavement to get a ticket, but these were unmistakeably Henman's people.

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Travelling on the District Line to Southfields on Friday morning was a bit like taking a time machine back to 25 June and the start of the Wimbledon Championships.

Getting to the All England Club necessitated a battle through hoards of middle-aged ladies and their picnic hampers.

The weather: chilly, with a looming threat of rain.

But once inside the grounds, it was clear this was no ordinary day at Wimbledon, hosting its first Davis Cup tie since 2000.

For a start, Centre Court was out of bounds, which is a bit like going to Wembley and not being allowed to see the pitch.

The practice courts at Aorangi Park, the outside courts and even Henman Hill were all deserted.

This was (possibly) Henmania's last hurrah and his adoring fans were ready to make the most of it

And from Court One, there were the strains of loud music. Pop music. The sort of sound likely to send the ageing debenture holders reaching for their ear plugs.

It was probably just as well Centre Court was off duty. How would the historic venue have coped?

Court One was bedecked in advertising - usually noticeable only by its absence during the Championships - and Union Jack flags, another no-no during those two weeks of summer.

In between the music, our host announcer, rather than asking for mobile phones to be switched off, encouraged the crowd to make as much noise as possible.

And they responded, rattling their 'thunder sticks' for all their worth as the British team made their entrance.

The noise reached cacophonous levels as Henman arrived on court following Andy Murray's five-set win over Marin Cilic.

Tim Henman supporters
Henman flags and tributes adorned Court One at the All England Club

This was (possibly) Henmania's last hurrah and his adoring fans were ready to make the most of it.

Not that British reserve was thrown completely out of the window. Any excitable fans who dared to shout during a point were met with a stern 'Ssshhh' from the disapproving masses.

But Henman's reaction on sealing victory ensured this day would live long in the memory.

The 33-year-old knelt down, kissed the turf and rose to accept a standing ovation from the crowd, many of whom were wiping away tears.

He has promised to return on Saturday and Sunday, regardless of whether he plays, and no doubt there will be similar ovations then.

The arguments may rage elsewhere over Henman's legacy to British sport, but there will never be any such debate here at Wimbledon.



SEE ALSO
Youngsters lack desire - Henman
17 Sep 07 |  Tennis


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