THE eyes of the world may have been on Serena Williams and her Russian opponent as they took to Centre Court at Wimbledon on Saturday (July 3), but for many Malvern viewers the star of the show was someone else entirely.
Jane Poynder, a well-known tennis coach, led the players from their dressing rooms and out onto the court for the last time after 15-years as Master of Ceremonies for the female competitors.
As she has done so often, Mrs Poynder collected the two finalists from the inner sanctum, the Lady Members’ dressing room, and walked them down the clubhouse stairs to be welcomed by referee Andrew Jarrett and presented with bouquets of flowers.
She said: "It’s important to be really well dressed as you have to walk up and down the stairs beside Royal Box to get to the Centre Court waiting room. It would be very inappropriate to start a conversation, although some will talk, and you realise they want to. Otherwise it's all quite quiet.”
Mrs Poynder herself played at Wimbledon in the 1960s, winning a round in the ladies’ event. She is a dual international, in tennis and squash and became National Coach to Women’s Squash in 1973. As a tennis player, she represented Worcestershire for 25 years at County Week and was also crowned county champion. She remains closely connected with Midlands tennis and squash and now works as head professional at Malvern's Manor Park Club.
“I came in at a time when Navratilova and Graf were at their peak and at first I found it quite daunting to bounce up and ask them be ready at five to one. I’ve been escorting the Williamses throughout their careers: I admire them tremendously, particularly the way they put 101 per cent effort into their game and are so focussed on every match.
“My particular favourite? It’s got to be Pat Cash. In one of my first years at the Championships as we were walking through vast, milling crowds to Court One without security men, and I was worrying about whether he’d get mobbed by fans, he sweetly turned the tables by telling me 'Don't worry - we will look after you’ - when it was supposed to be me looking after him! That was wonderful.”