|SHE CAME, SHE SAW, SHE KONTA'D: Britain's No 1 is a headline|
writer's dream, but that won't always be a good thing...
DO you remember that episode of Buffy when it turns out that all the real monsters have the night off at Halloween?
Or the truth commonly acknowledged that no matter how much you love its timber-beamed buildings and second hand book shops, you must never under any circumstances visit Stratford-Upon-Avon on an August Bank Holiday.
This is very much the feeling that tortures tennis fans when Wimbledon rolls round every summer.
I still adore it of course. It is, after all, the greatest of the Grand Slams. The last major grass court tournament. The Grand Cathedral of Tennis. The purveyor of overpriced strawberries...
But there's no denying the fact that it's the two weeks of the year that people who know naff all about the sport start to pass judgement on passing shots with all the authority of someone who could tie break before they could tie their shoe laces.
There's no doubt that the tournament is one of those events which gets up the blood of the tabloids (in The Sun's world, young attractive sportswomen are the single best ambassadors for our country short of men armed with heavy-duty assault rifles).
Not that I mind people loving what I love (and I've loved tennis for the best part of 15 years). It's just that the love doesn't last and most converts can't make it to Middle Saturday before they're carping and moaning and making less than pleasant comments about people they hadn't heard of before the start of the week.
Take Jo Konta, for instance - the first British woman to make it to the semi-finals of the tournament since 1978. To put things in context that was the same year that Kate Bush first warbled about wild and windy moors and Christopher Reeve pulled on his Superman pants.
Obviously I was delighted (about Konta not Christopher). She is a player who has put the hours in - from a virtual unknown to a Top 10 contender in the space of just a few years - and her name fits perfectly to the opening bars of a certain White Stripes song.
Inevitably expectations soared, only to come crashing to Earth when the home favourite was beaten in straight sets by Venus Williams.
Now this is where it gets a bit nasty. One Facebook page I follow posted the result and within minutes there was the usual bile from rather too many people. Konta was, variously, a "waste of time", a "hypejob" and had "choked".
It should be pointed out there were also an awful lot of supportive comments as well, but too many individuals seemed rather too quick to put the boot in. There were also barbs about Konta's background (she grew up in Australia) and a few choice comments about Williams that would have done Enoch Powell proud.
It should be noted that this isn't a new phenomena. Andy Murray, arguably our greatest player of all time, had to endure years of abuse from ill-informed idiots. He was boring [for which you could read, he trained hard and didn't drink], he couldn't beat the best players [presumably why he became World No 1] and he hated the English [odd given the nationality of his wife, best friend and several members of his coaching team].
I once read that part of Murray's problem was that his killer instinct didn't sit well with those crowds who were used to seeing plucky Brits go down in the first round to someone whose surname ends with "vic". But the argument that we're a nation which struggles to warm to winners is rather defeated by the fact that, judging by the scorn poured on Konta, we're not too keen on losers either.
And it's this tendency for people to rubbish someone who they have been emotionally invested in for all of four days which sets my teeth on edge during Wimbledon fortnight.
The Montreal Masters might lack the majesty of SW19 - and I'm not sure where they stand on strawberries - but when play begins there next month I take a lot of comfort in the fact that the mob won't have made it to Canada...