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High life

Coco Gauff won fair and square, but she played terrible tennis

13 July 2019

9:00 AM

13 July 2019

9:00 AM

Martina Navratilova has never been shy about telling it like it is. She came out when other athletes were hiding in their lockers, and recently spoke out against men transitioning into women in order to cash in at women’s events. She is brave and refuses to be intimidated. Last week, while the centre court crowd was going wild cheering for Coco Gauff, Martina was the only commentator to question the fairness of it: ‘I wonder how Hercog must feel having 15,000 people hate you and cheer your every mistake to the rafters?’

Mind you, sportsmanship is a thing of the past, and Wimbledon crowds now act like football fans. Coco is only 15, African-American and plays like a dream, but her opponent did not deserve to have her double faults greeted with loud cheers. If anyone was the underdog, it was the white, blonde Slovenian loser. There were about ten people in Coco’s Wimbledon box: coaches, her parents, emotional enhancers, masseurs, hitting partners, strategists, you name it. Polona Hercog’s box was empty but for one man, who looked on expressionless. I imagine that Coco has more sponsors knocking on her doors than I’ve had hangovers while the Slovenian has had maybe one, if any. But it was she who was the baddie in that drama.

Crowds are the last to know or understand anything, so I was not surprised. But it is the politically correct ass-wipes of the media that drive public opinion, even in the rather effete game of tennis. Listening to female commentators, especially American ones, hyperventilating over the Williams sisters and now Coco makes one yearn for the old days of understatement. Incidentally, the long three-set match that Coco won fair and square was terrible tennis. They both pushed the ball, except that Coco was a bit less scared to stroke it than the Slovenian. But choking by both players was the order of the day.

Never mind. I had a wonderful time in London, especially reading about a man whose playboy older brother died in mysterious circumstances and whose wife has now left him because, I assume, he’s much too ugly to look at every morning.


Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s wife Haya is a Hashemite, the only true royal family in the Middle East. The rest of them are ex-camel jockeys who awarded themselves highfalutin titles once oil was discovered in that sandy hellhole. This guy Maktoum has a lousy record with the fairer sex. His daughter Sheikha Latifa ran away and was brought back under guard, and now Haya, King Hussein of Jordan’s daughter, has also done a runner. Good for you, girls. Saudi and UAE men are the biggest bluffs in Africa. Without moolah they’d be cleaning Israeli toilets for a living.

But back to London: this time round it was a dream. Although I wasn’t feeling my best, two doctors fixed me up in a jiffy. First Dr Morgan, an ex-submariner who fought in the Falklands, diagnosed something and sent me to a specialist, Professor Narula, a Spectator reader who made room for me because of the dear old Speccie. The most charming of men, he sent me downstairs to the very attractive and blonde Dr McLean, who stuck some contraption on my throat and pronounced me healthy. ‘This is Taki,’ said the prof. ‘I read you,’ said the doc. ‘Better tell your hubby or your lover that you’re coming on the boat with me this summer,’ said I. ‘I’ll tell both of them,’ said the sexy doc.

What can I say? Happiness is having a Speccie column and meeting such wonderful doctors as the three I just mentioned. Or when another reader, Nicholas Glass, comes all the way from Vancouver for a chat and a drink. Then came the two Spectator parties:

Me: ‘Georgia, this is Con Coughlin, the Telegraph’s foreign editor.’
Georgia: ‘I used to work for the Telegraph.’
Con: ‘Why did you quit?’
Me: ‘Because she became a duchess.’
Con: ‘Good career move.’
The operative name is Beaufort.

The highlight of the party was meeting the Hungarian ambassador — my NBF — who is as good-looking, tall and charming as his country is brilliant in remaining a Christian European nation and to hell with the phoney rubbish of Brussels. But look what Brussels just came up with, Christine Lagarde and Charles Michel, two tainted career bureaucrats whose oleaginous manners could suck the chrome off a 1955 Cadillac.

The readers’ party was, as usual, the nicest of all. You know who you are and what a pleasure it was to meet you — not a single smug person among you. I sat with my very brave friend Aidan Hartley and his son and asked him about his dangerous life in Africa, a continent he loves so much. He brushed my fears away. Brave men and women never brag. The ones who do are phonies.

My big fight is with state-enforced morality, the sneering elite telling poor little me how to think and how to live. But bullies are cowards and all one has to do is shoo them away, like flies. I’m off to the Greek isles and Homer’s wine-dark sea.


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