In Brazil, over a million people are reported to have joined demonstrations against the seeding of Rafael Nadal in this year’s Wimbledon. While many might consider the tennis tournament to be an elitist, predictable and insignificant waste of strawberries; for the disenfranchised youth of Rio de Janeiro it means everything.
The “King of Clay” has slipped down the rankings after seven months out with a knee injury, but has won 43 out of 45 matches since returning. The newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo highlighted widespread inequality throughout Brazil, citing as an example Wimbledon’s own formula for men’s seedings. One protester said: ‘Exorbitant transport fares, corruption and taxation we can tolerate, but placing the two-time champion behind David Ferrer is an outrage!’
The Spaniard has turned into lightning rod for all forms of protest, ever since a masked, bare-chested protester interrupted his victory at the French Open. Despite tournament director Gibert Ysern condemning this as ‘pathetic’, he could not deny that Nadal has become the Che Guevara of grass tennis. The All England Club is already considering the use of tear gas and rubber bullets on Henman Hill should things ‘turn nasty’ later this month.
The BBC’s correspondent in Rio, Julia Carneiro, commented: ‘It is not yet known how this will end, but with so much at stake, it might be worth Andy Murray considering an escape in the early rounds.’