Tim Henman: a British tennis star created in Cobham
PUBLISHED: 10:17 20 February 2014 | UPDATED: 20:18 25 June 2014
Bright Ideas for Tennis
Having grown up in Surrey, tennis star Tim Henman has his roots very much in our county. Here we put him under our spotlight...
You went to school at Reed's School in Cobham - tell us about your time there?
It was great fun. It was a very exciting time in my tennis life, playing two hours of tennis per day, six days a week. It was extremely helpful.
Did you have a favourite teacher who particularly inspired you?
Not especially, although I remember being inspired by Bjorn Borg following my first visit to watch Wimbledon. Later, I found Stefan Edberg very influential as I was lucky enough to practice with him a lot.
Have you been back at all?
Yes, I keep in regular contact with the school, and through my Tim Henman Charity Foundation I still fund some of the tennis scholars there.
At what point did you know you were going to be a tennis player?
I first dreamt of being a tennis professional when I was six years old.
What was your favourite moment of your tennis career?
Probably my first match on Centre Court in 1996 vs Yevgeny Kafelnikov. That’s where it all started...
You have since become a regular commentator on TV – what’s the funniest thing that’s happened in the commentary box?
I find working alongside Sue Barker very amusing, as all I can associate with Sue is when she used to pick me up from school in her car when I was 13 years old. I can’t seem to get this out of my head when I’m sitting alongside her on the TV!
With Wimbledon on our doorstep, what would be your top tip for readers going to the event?
Go to Henman Hill and just soak up the atmosphere there!
You’re also an ambassador for the Bright Ideas for Tennis charity… tell us about that?
Yes, I am delighted to support Bright Ideas for Tennis. Inspiring players of all ages and abilities, increasing participation levels and improving facilities are fundamental to raising the overall standards within the game and this is exactly what Bright Ideas are doing. I share their passion and commitment towards these goals and I look forward to helping them in the future.
Everyone is very excited about watching you play in their 24-hour tennis marathon – how did that come about?
I have connections with Danny Sapsford, the MD of Bright Ideas, through our time on tour and in Davis Cup teams together. He approached me last Wimbledon, and his enthusiasm towards the event was contagious. I’m just glad to be able to help.
What are you looking forward to most about the event?
Seeing how tired Danny and Stuart (Rhodes), a former Surrey County player, are after 24 hours straight! And obviously raising a lot of money for a great cause.
Judging by the many Surrey tennis clubs taking part, it seems the local tennis scene is thriving; would you agree?
Yes and no. There are a lot of great clubs within Surrey that are thriving, but there are still a lot that need help. And besides, this event is not just about helping the clubs, it’s about helping communities, improving facilities that will enable more people from all walks of life to take up the sport.
Do you have a favourite tennis court/club in Surrey?
Wimbledon of course!
How about a place to visit?
I’m a member of Queenwood Golf Club near Ottershaw and I always love spending time there.
Andy Murray is a Surrey resident himself – are you two pals?
Yes, absolutely, and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching his fantastic career unfold. To be commentating on his Wimbledon triumph last year was a real highlight for me too.
What advice would you have for Surrey youngsters hoping to follow a career in tennis?
Work hard, enjoy yourself and follow your dreams.
Are any of your own children following in your footsteps?
Not really. They play a little tennis but I don’t think they’ll end up as professionals. I want them to enjoy the game without being too pushy. They enjoy a host of other sports and activities, which is totally led by themselves; I think that’s important.
Finally, tell us something we don’t know about you…
I have a melchior (24 bottles) of red wine sitting in my wine cellar at home and I’m just looking for a good reason to open it!