Yesterday (06/29/2016) Marcus Willis, a 25-year old tennis instructor from Britain who still lives with his parents, played Roger Federer in a second round match at Wimbledon.

Now, on the surface if this is not the definition of agate print material then nothing is.

But this is a little deeper than that.

Willis, ranked #772 in the tennis world before this made-for-tv saga began to unfold, eventually lost to Federer — world-renowned holder of 17 Grand Slam titles and one of tennis’ all-time greats — in straight sets 6–0; 6–3; 6–4, but this is hardly the point.

The fact that he was able to take 7 games from King Roger — as astounding as that is and something which will undoubtedly be cherished by Marcus for a lifetime — is likewise tangential.

Peripheral perhaps, yet still miraculous.

I mean this is like stepping into the box against Koufax and finding yourself on second base after lacing a double.

It’s like scoring the basketball with LeBron in your grill or catching a pass from Brady in a game that counts.

This is other-worldly stuff, Walter Mitty-like fantasy.

You ask yourself, “is this really happening…to me?”

Willis himself conceded that “it’s like a fairytale…it was amazing…just awesome.”

After all, the kid from Wokingham is poised to catapult to #416 in the world or thereabouts when the new rankings are confirmed following this year’s Strawberries and Cream Festival, a jump of 356 notches.

And let’s be clear:

In order to step onto the Centre Court grass and face the Federer Express, Willis endured triumphantly no fewer than six qualifying rounds — he was the last man accepted into Wimbledon pre-qualifying — and a first-round “proper” against #53 world-ranked Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis which he won in straight sets (6–3; 6–3; 6–4).

Suffice it to say that the lad seized his opportunity.

The real point is that Marcus Willis got here at all.

How in God’s name could it happen?

Marcus Willis is a 25 year-old kid. He makes forty bucks an hour (American) teaching tennis. He likes pretty girls and he enjoys a pint or two. He occasionally raises a little hell with his sister Chloe, 2 years his senior and their mutual chums.

He is in the early stages of a relationship with a beauty queen dentist. They are in love. In fact, she convinced him not to pack it in, not to give up.

He’s a very good if not gifted tennis player.

He’s not fit actually, carrying about 20 extra lbs. He knows this. There may be a bazillion people like him around the world.

And he’s serving to The Swiss Maestro under the roof at Wimbledon’s Centre Court?


The beauty of all this is in its purity, its innocence.

Willis is wearing Nike product head to almost toe.

Nike top (an RF signature style?) Nike shorts, Nike socks…and Adidas footwear.


You just don’t see this kind of thing at Wimbledon or any such venue.

Maybe in the playground or just kickin’ around, sure.

Here where “tennis whites” are compulsory? Nooooo. Absolutely not! Taboo. Wowee!!!

Rog is outfitted to the nines and making money on his logo & label(s) with each breath he takes.

Marcus Willis is just happy to be and to be here. And his new girlfriend, a beauty queen dentist, had a lot to do with it.

But let’s understand one thing. This is a story about a regular kid, a common young man and his 15 minutes of fame and glory.

How it plays out is up to Willis and the circumstances surrounding him.

Circumstances much bigger than he — his ample girth notwithstanding — like the fallout from Brexit for example.

Whatever course Marcus Willis’ career may take, no less a luminary than Roger Federer can by his own admission, certainly relate.

“This story is gold,” King Roger admitted. “This is definitely one of the matches I’ll remember.”

[This piece was written by Mr. Kaplan in June 2016.]


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