SOMEONE was smiling on Tim Henman as he walked out on to Centre Court to begin his 2007 Wimbledon campaign.
Exactly one minute later, the sun emerged for the first time on a soggy and chilly afternoon, where thoughts had turned to frostbite in SW19.
The opening cry of “C’mon Tim” wasn’t far behind. Just like old times, except somebody had stolen the roof.
First day verdict on the roofless Centre Court was generally negative.
Some thought the cathedral of tennis looked like a World War Two bomb crater.
One veteran spectator said simply: “It’s just wrong.”
Windswept, feeling smaller in size and altogether more ordinary, it’s certainly lost some of its mystery, allure and dignity.
But perhaps we’ll warm to the new surroundings.
A fixed roof will be back in place next year with the addition of a fully retractable cover by 2009.
Defending champion Roger Federer was the first to play in the Wimbledon superbowl.
He won comfortably enough but, at times, looked disturbed by the breeze blowing across the baseline.
“I definitely prefer the old one over this one right now,” he said after his straight sets victory.
“But, obviously, it’s a work in progress. We are all looking forward to next year.”
Federer was also asked about the white outfit he wore to warm up on Centre Court.
“Why didn’t you leave the trousers on, really make a statement?”
The Swiss ace volleyed back: “Well, it was cold – but not that cold.”
His Russian opponent Teimuraz Gabashvili didn’t bring a jacket but had the honour of making the first historic line call challenge on Centre Court via Hawk-Eye.
That turned out to be as unsuccessful as the rest of his afternoon.
Henman was next on. This being teatime, he was watched by a near empty royal box.
Also exposed to the elements, it now gives a good impression of the top layer of a box of Milk Tray.
Tiger Tim did his best to overcome Spain’s Carlos Moya and resurrect Henmania in a five set thriller, stretching late into the evening.
If there had been a roof, he would have raised it.
At 9.18pm and locked at 5-5, they were finally defeated by the light and return tomorrow.
At least a first day Wimbledon washout was avoided.
But as one observer joked: “Perhaps we should hold this tournament in the summer.”