Published: 13 June 2015
Tennis ace Tim Henman:
‘Retiring from tennis in 2007 was the happiest moment of my life. For once I could do normal things without worrying about training or travelling’
We ask a celebrity a set of devilishly probing questions – and only accept THE definitive answer. This week: former tennis ace Tim Henman
The prized possession you value above all others...My wine cellar at home in Oxfordshire. I have about 1,200 bottles and I’ve spent far too much money on them. I love champagne, white Burgundy and red Bordeaux.
The biggest regret you wish you could amend...Not being able to cook properly. I’m excellent at scrambled eggs on toast and pasta, but that’s about it.
The temptation you wish you could resist...That extra glass of wine that always leads to the hangover.
The book that holds an everlasting resonance...‘Twas The Night Before Christmas. My mum and dad always read it to me on Christmas Eve. I read it to my three girls – Rosie, 12, Olivia, ten and Grace, seven – so there’s a lovely continuity.
The priority activity if you were the Invisible Man for a day...I’d put all the cheats in sport out of business.
The pet hate that makes your hackles rise...Impatient drivers who jump the queue.
The person who has influenced you most...My dad Tony. He introduced me to sport and taught me about the will to win. There aren’t many dads more competitive than mine!
The figure from history for whom you’d most like to buy a pie and a pint...My grandfather Henry Billington, who died when I was six. He played tennis at Wimbledon in the late 40s and 50s, so I’d love to talk to him about his experiences.
The piece of wisdom you would pass on to a child...Good manners don’t cost anything, but they are so important. We’ve brought up all our children to be well-mannered.
The film you can watch time and time again...Wedding Crashers with Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn. I’ve seen it at least 30 times, but I still find it funny.
The event that altered the course of your life and character...Watching Bjorn Borg play at Wimbledon in 1981. I was six and he was the defending five-times champion. It inspired me to be a professional tennis player.
The unending quest that drives you on...To putt as well as US golfer Ben Crenshaw.
The unlikely interest that engages your curiosity...Fires! I love building a bonfire, or sitting by an open fire in the house. I find flames mesmerising.
The treasured item you lost and wish you could have again...My healthy right shoulder! I injured it when I was 11, then aggravated it over the years and had an operation when I was 21. It aches when I play tennis.
The poem that touches your soul...If by Rudyard Kipling. The lines about treating triumph and disaster just the same are above the door as you walk out onto Centre Court.
The misapprehension about yourself you wish you could erase...That I sit on the fence. For years, I had to give what was considered the ‘right’ answer to the media. Now, as a commentator, I can give the honest answer!
The crime you would commit knowing you could get away with it...I’d steal the contents of the cellars at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo. There are 600,000 bottles of the finest wine.
The song that means most to you...Let Me Entertain You by Robbie Williams. It was played at the arena in Birmingham during the Davis Cup against America in 1999. We lost 3-2 but it was an amazing weekend of tennis.
The way you would spend your fantasy 24 hours, with no travel restrictions...I’d wake up in a villa on stilts in the ocean in the Maldives with my wife Lucy and our girls. We’d have a huge English breakfast and exotic fruit before swimming with dolphins. I’d play 18 holes with my golfing mates at Augusta and shoot a course record 62. We’d have a lobster and seafood platter for lunch at the clubhouse with a bottle of Montrachet white wine. Then I’d join the family at the Boulders Lodge at Singita Game Reserve, by Kruger National Park, South Africa where Lucy and I stayed on our honeymoon. We’d spend all afternoon watching animals, then have some Dom Pérignon Rosé in the bush. We’d go home and take our black Labradors Bumble and Bella for a walk, then end up at The Sweet Olive pub in the village of Aston Tirrold near our home. We’d take over the place for friends and family and enjoy fillet steak with magnums of Petrus ’82. The day would end in my own bed.
The happiest moment you will cherish forever...When I retired from tennis in September 2007! I remember taking the girls to school and thinking, ‘Wow, I can do this without worrying about training, travelling or playing.’
The saddest time that shook your world...When our 12-year-old Labrador Bonnie died two years ago. The vet put her down at home because she was so ill. I held her and sobbed.
The unfulfilled ambition that continues to haunt you...To travel more. I’ve visited 81 countries and want to see as much of the world as possible. New Zealand is top of the list.
The philosophy that underpins your life...Always give 100 per cent. I never won Wimbledon, despite being in four semi-finals, but I’m happy with my achievements because I gave everything I had.
The order of service at your funeral...I’m too busy living to dwell on it.
The way you want to be remembered...As a good father, husband and friend. And he had a great wine cellar!
The Plug...Tim Henman’s Charity Foundation and Centrepoint host a Pro-Am tournament in London on 24 June. For tickets to the gala dinner visit henmanfoundation.org.
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