TENNIS legend Roger Federer is set to become a voice of the BBC at Wimbledon in June.

British media reported during the week that he was in advanced talks to work as a commentator for the event.

Federer, who hung up his racket last year at the age of 41, would be a big hit with fans and the BBC is currently rebuilding its commentary team after the retirement of Sue Barker and the dumping of the disgraced Boris Becker.

The BBC are also reported to be building a new studio complex at SW19 they hope a swathe of new faces would reinvigorate their presentations.

Federer has already hinted that commentary is something he could be interested in.

Back late last year at the Laver Cup, he said: “Commentating the odd match or giving back in this way, I guess I could imagine it. Sometimes you watch matches because of the commentary and less about the match itself.”

BUT before Wimbledon there’s Paris and Roland Garros…

And every year since 1980, the French Tennis Federation has connected the art world with Roland-Garros by commissioning an artist to create the official tournament poster.

The FFT chose young artist Maxime Verdier to design the poster to illustrate the 2023 tournament, which starts on May 22.

Verdier, 31, has created a poster entitled “Terre d’étoiles” (Land of Stars), which apparently, leaves room for the imagination, offering up his vision of the Parisian Grand Slam.

TALKING of the Cosmos, German star Alexander Zverev was happy to see the Davis Cup part ways with another ‘Kosmos’ last week.

Kosmos, the Spanish sports marketing company, had grand ideas to stage a ‘neutral event tournament’ in key cities around the world, but forgot the key ingredient – local partisan support.

Zverev had always been critical of the plan and had often said a neutral event would not attract fans.

He wasn’t the only critic, many others in the tennis world shared their concerns, so he was delighted when the deal fell through.

“You saw that you can’t buy history with money,” Zverev said during the week.

“Sport lives from emotions and the Davis Cup was always the competition where you experienced the biggest emotions and the best atmosphere.

“You could see that the new format doesn’t work. I believe you need home and away ties.”

Alexander Zverev and Laura Siegemund of Team Germany in action at the United Cup in Sydney last month.
Photo:Tennis Australia/ James Gourley

ZVEREV had a busy week in the media spotlight as he was cleared by the ATP investigation of alleged domestic abuse charges against a former girlfriend at the US Open four years ago.

“A major independent investigation into Alexander Zverev has found insufficient evidence to substantiate published allegations of abuse,” the ATP said in a statement.

“As a result, no disciplinary action will be taken by the ATP.”

The investigation was carried out by the US-based Lake Forest Group – a so-called detective agency with what the ATP said had “more than 60 years of combined experience in the surveillance/investigation field”.

ANOTHER player under the spotlight for similar reasons this week had his assault charge dismissed by a magistrate in Australia.

Nick Kyrgios turned up at the court on Canberra on crutches after recent knee surgery and pleaded guilty to pushing over his ex-girlfriend in 2021.

Kyrgios had originally tried to have the charge thrown out on mental health grounds, but that the court rejected that proposal.

Magistrate Beth Campbell then threw out the charge, saying the seriousness of the matter was “low-level” and that Kyrgios was not a risk of reoffending.

Kyrgios had been charged over an incident on January 10, 2021 where he pushed over his ex-girlfriend Chiara Passari after an argument outside her apartment in Canberra.

The court was told that ex-girlfriend Chiara Passari was standing in the door of an Uber stopping Kyrgios from leaving when he pushed her over on January 10, 2021.

Kyrgios then told Ms Passari to “leave me the f*** alone” and to “just f***ing piss off” while she asked him to get out of the car and to calm down.

Surprisingly, Ms Passari didn’t report the incident until 10 months later, which may have swayed the magistrate’s decision.

A ‘BRITISHNESS’ themed art exhibition in London is set to feature a portrait of Andy Murray playing at Wimbledon.

The exhibition entitled ‘The Joys of Being British’ will be held at London’s Mall Galleries, and will showcase over 100 paintings, all around the theme of Britishness.

Artist Francis Salvesen said an exhibition on Britishness would not be complete without Wimbledon.

“And, quite naturally, Andy Murray! He’s one of the few British players to ever win Wimbledon, and he won not once but twice,” Salvesen said.

“If you look carefully in the background, you’ll see the Princess of Wales and how the audience are looking at her, rather than at Murray — missing out on him work his magic.

“I wanted to have some fun with this painting, while celebrating the achievements of a great sportsman and bringing Wimbledon to life in time for the summer season.”

The painting is on sale for £750.

Pro-Russian fans with flags were initially allowed into the Australian Open before officials banned them.

AUSTRALIAN Open tournament director Craig Tiley has called on tennis and other sports to do more to support Ukrainian athletes during the country’s war with Ukraine.

But Tiley, who has a habit of fence sitting, allowed Russian and Belarusian players to compete at the event, only banned Russian flags after some appeared courtside during the event.

Pro-Russian protests inside and outside the event in Melbourne were a major embarrassment for organisers, so perhaps this is another reactive (rather than a Wimbledon-style proactive) approach from the politically savvy Tiley to make himself look good in the eyes of all parties.

IF you are looking for a good news story from Melbourne, look no further than Ben Shelton.

The 20-year-old American was playing only his second Grand Slam singles main draw – and – his first tournament outside his native US.

The left-hander’s amazing run to the last eight, was a fairytale ride.

The former NCAA champion, who was ranked No. 569 a year ago, played tennis at the University of Florida and lead them them to their first national championship.

He is definitely one to watch as American men’s tennis continues to impress around the Tour in 2023.

“I think it was a great experience. It was fun to be out there, my first quarterfinal of a Grand Slam. I thought I played alright,” Shelton said.

“Some things that I could do better, things that I would maybe do next time if I could do differently, but I’m pleased with the result, this being my first time at the Australian Open. So, (I’m) taking a lot of positives away from it.”

AND finally …

After Melbourne, what’s next on the tennis calendar?

The WTA Tour scatters into various events after the Australian with tournaments in Cali in Colombia, Hua Hin in Thailand and back to Europe in Lyon, France and Linz, Austria.

But much of focus will be on the ‘Middle-East’ swing, with the WTA 1000 Dubai Duty Free Championships.

There’s also a WTA 500 event in Abu Dhabi starting tomorrow, and the Qatar Open in Doha.

Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka is the defending champion in Abu Dhabi but there are doubts about her appearance there.

Then the Tour heads to North America with the WTA 250 Merida Open in Mexico and the Abierto GNP Seguros in Monterrey.

Austin also hosts the ATX Open between February 27and 5 March 5.


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