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Tim Henman smacked me in the face! Tennis commentator Andrew Castle’s Wimbledon tales

© Press Association ImagesAndrew Castle at Wimbledon ahead of a bumper fortnight of tennis action
Andrew Castle at Wimbledon ahead of a bumper fortnight of tennis action

There’s one dramatic moment from his years in the Wimbledon commentary box that particularly stands out for Andrew Castle.

It was the 2013 men’s singles final when Andy Murray won and, after the final ball from Novak Djokovic went in the net, Tim Henman leaped up next to him. “Henners smacked me right in the head with his elbow – I assume accidentally. He almost knocked me unconscious!”

Former British No 1 Castle, 57, is hoping for similar excitement over the next fortnight. Spectators will be allowed – at 50% capacity, until finals weekend, which will be full capacity.

Castle, a BBC commentator since 2003, says the decision “shows great trust from the Government”, although some may feel sports having spectators shouldn’t be a priority while restrictions remain in place elsewhere.

“Some people seem slightly bitter and twisted about it, but I don’t really see why anybody would be unhappy that a major live sporting event is taking place in front of people again,” he follows. “Wimbledon is going to be on and in front of people, with a bit of luck with the sun shining. It’s a fabulous thing.”

Castle carried on working during the pandemic, hosting his radio show on LBC, and seemed ecstatic at returning to his role at Wimbledon. “I’d love to see Roger Federer getting into the second week, because that would be a major story at the age of 39,” he says excitedly, when asked for his predictions. “And I’d like Andy Murray to do the same thing.”

When it comes to the women, Naomi Osaka has now confirmed she won’t be appearing. Last month, the 23-year-old four-time grand slam champion withdrew from the French Open after talking about her battles with depression and social anxiety, amid a row over her decision not to fulfil her media commitments.

“Anybody famous, people are judging you, they’re watching you,” says Castle. “I don’t know anybody that hasn’t been altered by that experience. You’ve got to be strong to come through these things, and hopefully, she’ll find that strength to do so and the support elsewhere as well.”

Castle still plays loads of tennis, but at Gleneagles an exhibition match against fellow former British No 1 Greg Rusedski left him slightly the worse for wear.

“You compete hard and you run well, and nothing hurts, and then afterwards, I literally went back to my hotel room and just flopped out – you just lie there in pain,” he says, chuckling. “And the next day, neither of us could walk very much – but it’s great fun to play.”

Wimbledon coverage begins today, BBC2, 10.30am