The Andy Murray/UK's-favorite-son circus continued full bore here Monday.
Lost in the weird hustle and bustle by the local media to pursue yet another new angle was the fact that he won his first match in defense of his Wimbledon title. He beat David Goffin of Belgium, 6-1, 6-4, 7-5.
The hordes paid to get a glimpse of it, even without Center Court tickets. They scrambled for any open spot on the huge hill once known as Henman Hill (named for the former hope, Tim Henman) and now either officially or unofficially renamed Murray's Mount.
Apparently, to the winner go the spoils, as well as your name on a spectators' hill.
After his relative walk-through against Goffin, third-seeded Murray admitted to being nervous and also trying to take in some memories.
"Yeah, I enjoyed it for the walk to the chair," he said. "Then, when I sat down, it was time to get on with business."
For the media, it was that too. When he met reporters, a disproportionate number were armed with weird questions, some apparently from clueless editors derived at cocktail parties to produce new angles.
He was asked whether his nerves had been helped by making a visit to a dog rescue.
He was asked whether spectators shouting "C'mon, Andy" helped motivate him.
He was asked whether he avoided, because of superstition, walking past a poster of himself in the clubhouse that shows him clutching last year's trophy.
He was asked whether he had donated money to the fund for a deceased British female tennis player, Elena Baltacha. (The hoped-for answer apparently was no, so tabloid headlines could scream: ANDY CHEAPSKATE!).
He was asked whether any particular boxer inspired him.
He was asked about an opponent possibly pooping in his pants when he plays him.
And of course, there was the inevitable: "With England football out of the World Cup, do you feel you are now giving British sports fans something to cheer about?"
To Murray's credit, he did not, nor has he ever, said that he is from Scotland and Scotland has its own team.
Also winning on the men's side was Novak Djokovic, the No. 1-seeded male player, who lost to Murray in last year's final. He beat Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan, 6-0, 6-1, 6-4.
Former champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, seeded sixth, advanced on the women's side, as did No. 2 Li Na of China. No. 8 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus won, but No. 17 Samantha Stosur of Australia, former U.S. Open champion, was upset by Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium.
U.S. hope Sloane Stephens, who had played her way up to a No. 18 seed, went out in two sets at the hands of Russia's Maria Kirilenko.
No. 6 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic outlasted Romania's Victor Hanescu.
Sitting in the Royal Box for the Murray match was that longtime tennis aficionado, Shaquille O'Neal. Murray reported spoke to him afterward and said that Shaq told him this was his first viewing of a tennis match.
"He's a big boy. That's for sure," Murray said.
Billie Jean's back
Billie Jean King was back at Wimbledon for the 54th consecutive year — as a player, coach or broadcaster. Her first trip was in 1961, when she won the women's doubles with Karen Hantze Susman.
"She's out on the practice courts," reported her longtime partner, Ilana Kloss. "She's hitting with a couple of young players. She never stops."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times