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May 30, 2014 6:39 pm

The Inventory: Tim Henman

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tennis player Tim Henman©Chris Close

Tim Henman, 39, sparked “Henmania” during his appearances at Wimbledon. He achieved a No 4 singles ranking in 2002 and won 15 ATP titles, including the Paris Masters in 2003. He was appointed OBE in the same year.

What was your earliest ambition?

My mum took me to Wimbledon for the first time when I was six. I can remember exactly where we were sitting. We watched Björn Borg play and that was when I made my one and only career decision.

Public school or state school? University or straight into work?

Reed’s School in Cobham, a public school, on the David Lloyd Slater tennis scheme. I left after my GCSEs to play tennis full-time.

Who is your mentor?

I’ve had different mentors at different times. My earliest was my dad. He played a lot of sports to a good standard – and is also one of the most competitive people I’ve ever met.

How physically fit are you?

Not as fit as I used to be! I still run three or four times a week.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?

I think ambition is very important, as are commitment and dedication. Success is about maximising your potential: in sport, it’s easy to get obsessed with quantifying by winning or losing but maximising your potential means giving 100 per cent to whatever you do.

Have you ever taken an IQ test?


How politically committed are you?

I vote because I think you should but I don’t really enjoy politics – or politicians.

Do you consider your carbon footprint?

It’s important to try to do your bit. But having travelled 35 weeks a year, from the ages of 16 to 33, I’m sure all those flights didn’t help. Sadly, it goes with the territory.

Do you have more than one home?

We still have a house in London that we used to live in and I’ve always invested in property but I only have one home – the one we live in.

If you had a coat of arms, what would be on it?

Sports gear, dogs, cats and horses. And a quote from J M Barrie: “Fame is rot; daughters are the thing.” I’ve got three daughters and I’m not interested in fame, so that seems apt.

What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

A Melchizedek of champagne. A melchizedek is 40 bottles in one, and it’s my 40th birthday this year.

What’s your biggest extravagance?

I love wine.

In what place are you happiest?

At home with my family.

What ambitions do you still have?

Having been so professionally driven, I quite like not having such a goal-oriented life. I’m keen to do more with my charity foundation.

What drives you on?

I’ve seen what other charities do. I’m very impressed with Novak Djokovic’s work with underprivileged children in Serbia. I’ve been incredibly fortunate in the opportunities I’ve had; lots of kids don’t have those opportunities.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

Personally, it’s definitely my family. Professionally, when I won the Paris Masters series – the best week of tennis I ever played in my life.

What has been your greatest disappointment?

Professionally, the 2001 Wimbledon semi-final against Goran Ivanisevic when we played over three days, interrupted by rain. Personally, I try not to dwell on disappointments.

If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would he think?

“Wow. With a wife and three daughters, a dog, two cats and five horses, you’ve got your hands full.”

If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?

Tennis would always play a huge part. It’s given me so much.

Do you believe in assisted suicide?

In principle.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

I’m not sure.

If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?

I wouldn’t have too many complaints, put it that way.


Tim Henman plays in the BNP Paribas Tennis Classic at the Hurlingham Club, June 17-20

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