My high school in Wimbledon was one of the local institutions selected to supply ball boysfor the Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. It was quite the privilege and pupils would return with tall tales of generous tips, gifts and romantic encounters with famous tennis players. I was not allowed to apply, as only boys from a certain academic ability stream were eligible for consideration (I will not divulge on whether this was the high or low stream to avoid embarrassing friends who were selected). The ball boy polo shirt, worn long after the tournament had ended, held a certain local kudos but was not particularly stylish. It would be another two decades before Ralph Lauren became theWimbledon Official Outfitter and had they been the sponsors in 1986 I most definitely would have found a way to be involved.
Spectators at Wimbledon only have guidelines on personal appearance, whilst those seated in the debenture seats in Centre Court and Court No.1 have the loosest of dress codes. Gentleman guests in the Royal Box are still required to wear a jacket and tie but it’s a shame more people don’t enter into the spirit of the occasion and dress with more purpose. “Smart casual” has long been the sartorial kryptonite to the well-intentioned Englishman but, with brands such as Anderson & Sheppard and Lardini offering some strong pieces in this field, it is a good time to upgrade your wardrobe and ditch the faded skinny pink chinos. Please.