Even Wimbledon can't have everything, and part of what made this fortnight fine conspired to make its showpiece matches bloody boring. A guy who reminds us of us got to the gentlemen's singles final today: he pretty much played the way we would against the best player in the world and in front of a princess, a couple of lords, the U.S. ambassador and Mr. F. A. Millichip.
But the princess was a no-show. Word that Di would not be in attendance after all began spreading shortly after noon. Possibly it was from fatigue over the trip to Canada that ended Saturday; possibly she simply handicapped John McEnroe versus Chip Lewis and decided to polish the silver.
Lewis walked onto the court looking as though he had been through one war and was not too eager for another. His right knee was tightly wrapped; there was a large patch near his right elbow; he broke his racket the sixth time he hit the ball. Turned out that was his best shot of the match.
What happened was that at 0-30 McEnroe wound up and volleyed a bullet at the 91st-ranked player. Protecting himself against additional wounds to the ones suffered in his semifinal victory over Kevin Curren, Lewis threw his racket in front of his body.
The ball got enough string to leap back across the net for a winner, but nicked the racket enough for it to be no longer useful. "I didn't look on it as an omen," Lewis said.
But matters did not get a whole lot better.
Like Ivan Lendl, the New Zealander is a former Wimbledon juniors champion (1975). But for reasons that include a pitty-pat first serve, he does not belong on the same court with the Lendls and McEnroes of tennis.
Lewis got the chance of a lifetime not quite by default, but close. He outlasted the man who whipped the defending champion and top seed here, Jimmy Connors. And his preparation for McEnroe did not include paying attention to outside opinions.
That's because everybody else thought his situation analogous to a Triple A team somehow playing in the World Series. Or American University making the final four.
"There is nobody in the tournament who deserves to get into the final more than this kid," said his coach, Tony Roche. So far, Roche was right. It's nice to see a plucky fellow get rewarded for playing every ball as though the fate of mankind depended on his returning it.
Then Roche said, "If he beats McEnroe it won't be the biggest upset that Wimbledon has ever seen."
Well, an acquaintance was given 500-to-1 odds on Lewis and decided to risk just two pounds.
McEnroe offered nothing Moses-like before the match, but he delivered 2-2-2 anyway, the first set lasting 27 minutes and the third only 27. His victory was symbolic of nearly the entire Wimbledon fortnight.
The right man and the right woman won the major titles, but not nearly in the way most everyone thought. Who would have imagined that John Lloyd would have one more championship trophy (for mixed doubles) than his wife for the mantle.
Chris Evert Lloyd's loss to Kathy Jordan was not even the most stunning upset of Wimbledon. Lesser but significant ones after Curren over Connors included: the weather staying benevolent the entire two weeks and McEnroe shaking the umpire's hand after he whipped Lewis today.
Earlier in the tournament, McEnroe had said J. M. Huntington couldn't add 2 and 2." Huntington is sports editor of the Yorkshire Press, and while his umpiring the most glamorous final in tennis is not quite like Shirley Povich refereeing the Super Bowl, it does puff the profession a bit.
Then McEnroe did the handshake one better. He promised to try to keep from being so rude and crude. Until the Twelfth of Never. To people even less exhalted than sportswriters. This all began during the first question of his postmatch press conference, when an Englishman observed that McEnroe seemed to have regained. . . .
McEnroe cut him off as quickly as he had anything from Lewis. "My humor?" he said.
McEnroe smiling here is nearly as rare as so much sunshine. So foul is the weather so often that they keep records of which Wimbledons got the most rain. Everyone agreed this was the warmest Wimbledon since '76.
Lewis said he "played as well as McEnroe let me play." Which was not very. Not being nasty, McEnroe suggested Lewis might never get much higher in the rankings than his performance here merits.
In his mass interview, McEnroe tossed up conciliatory lobs and promised to work on deportment as much as his backhand. Near the end of the press conference, an American journalist said, "You mentioned that your good humor seems to have returned."
Again, McEnroe interrupted. "Don't take that too seriously," he said, joining the laughter.
Anyone want to give 500-to-1 odds he stays clean?
Anyway, from what McEnroe showed on the court against the New Zealander and off it with the often-nagging British press, we'll call this day: love, American style.