Marcus Willis will have that beer.
He’s earned it.
Capturing seven games in his second round match against Roger Federer he surely deserves one.
The man owes it all to a girl—a girl he met this February, a dentist named Jennifer Bates.
He fell in love, turned himself around and found himself in round two of this year’s Wimbledon earning himself 50,000 pounds.
Brexit might have taken its toll on the UK’s currency but that could not dim the
£30-an-hour part-time Wokingham tennis coach’s joy.
Beating Ricardas Berankis, ranked 54, in the first round was unexpected.
But qualifying for Wimbledon proper required him to win six gruelling matches.
As Goran Ivanisevic, his idol, put it:
“I love this story. This is great.
Pre-qualifying, then qualifiers, winning the first round against a not easy player. Berankis can play.
It’s just great. Perfect. He will go on Centre Court or Court One.
The biggest match of his life and he has won already. For him he is a winner. He is the story of Wimbledon and it cannot get better than this.
He cannot beat Roger Federer, no chance but he does not care. He has won already seven matches and he won Wimbledon for him. This is it.
He will go on Centre or Court One. He is the happiest man, whether he comes to the match sober or drunk it doesn’t make any difference.
Everyone will love him and support him and Roger will be nice to him.
Eventually maybe not but it’s going to be great. I think he should quit after this. Retire. Because this is it.
It does not get better than this. Great, well done, I’m really so happy for the guy.”
Roger Federer had nothing but respect for Willis. He treated him as a top-50 player because “because that’s the level he was playing at”.
Willis sounded both disappointed and upbeat after his loss.
“It sounds funny, but I’m disappointed to lose. I went out there trying to win.
I’ve had a fantastic few weeks, and this has been great, but there’s life after Wimbledon, and I want more. More experiences like this. I have to knuckle down and work harder.
I’m absolutely exhausted. I might wait and calm down. But I’ve earned myself a beer, I think.
I haven’t thought (about marrying Jennifer) , to be honest. This whole few weeks have been a bit of a blur. But I do like her quite a bit.
Amazing. It’s not my standard Wednesday.”
“I haven’t. People are telling me about it, but I’ve never seen it, really. I’m not a massive film watcher. I’m quite fidgety. I’m more of a doer than a watcher.”
Andy Murray, his fellow countryman, batted for Willis insisting that journeymen deserved more money.
“The first thing is we need to improve the prize money at Futures level. I think it’s stayed the same since the 1980s. The cost of everything has gone up massively since then so it’s impossible to stay at that level for more than a couple of years.
Someone like Marcus, if he had lost in the pre-qualifying at Wimbledon, we wouldn’t have this unbelievable story and he might not be coming back to play in January. You never know. There has to be more money at the bottom of the game.
It’s a difficult one.Because now players are breaking through later than they ever were before so they are obviously finding ways to hang around. A lot of the guys play club tennis to try to make some extra money, which helps. We don’t have that in this country. You can travel to Europe and do that. In Spain they have a few more money tournaments.”
Willis is ranked 772 in the world.
But for the match against Federer he dressed up wearing not just Roger’s classic white Nike bandana headband but an R.F.-branded shirt as well.
At the end of the match, he was not just another pretender but Marcus Willis, a 25-year-old from Slough, able to trade blows with the best in the business.
For most people, the story will be about Marcus’ two magical weeks at Wimbledon.
But Willis knows better.
It started earlier, much earlier, with a girl named Jennifer.