London. 2nd June. With just under three weeks to go until the start of Wimbledon, Tim Henman has said he's confident of repeating his past performances of woeful inadequacy. Fresh from romping home to defeat at the French Open last week the British No.1 has once again set his sights on a triumphant first round exit at The All England Tennis Club Finals which begin on 19th June.
Speaking at his training camp in Woking he said, "My huge legion of blindly optimistic fans can rest assured that I'll have crashed out of the tournament by Day 2. I've been working hard on several aspects of my game such as clenching my fist if I happen to win a point, looking very cross if a call doesn't go my way, and clapping forlornly in the crowd's direction after I've lost."
The sight of literally tens of Union Jack-clad fans loitering outside Centre Court may soon be a thing of the past - speculation is rife that this year will be Henman's last appearance at SW19. Having been on the international tennis scene for ten years, the victory-shy star has gloriously perpetuated Britain's dismal record in the sport by failing to register a single Grand Slam success, a feat he's keen to be remembered for after he retires, "Apart from miraculously getting to the semi-final a few years ago I think I've been pretty consistent in my tennis. The British public expect me to talk myself up before a game, maybe scrape a rare victory against an unknown wildcard entrant and then bravely roar to a loss whenever I come up against half-decent opposition. I can't give them anything but failure at the end of my career."
Henman's win-starved campaign has not been without controversy. Having recovered from a triple charisma bypass operation in the early nineties he was then the subject of a year's ban from Wimbledon after hitting a ball girl during one of his regular hissy fits, "I wasn't aiming for her," insists Henman, "but when have I ever managed to hit anything I was actually aiming for?"
David McDavids, Chairman of The England Tennis Association, played down the effect of the British No.1's retirement from the game, "Tim has been a loyal servant, courageously sacrificing himself over the years, but we've plenty of young and exciting no-hopers coming up through the ranks of our youth academy. I can assure you they'll carry on his, and Greg Rusedski's legacy of complete and utter uselessness."