The great Scot is far from being the only non-French tennis player unable to understand the language.
The French Open Women’s Singles finalists, a Latvian and a Romanian, were interviewed in English.
There is a simple reason for this.
English has always been the common language of tennis: the game originated in England and for most of the game’s history it was dominated by the USA, Australia, Britain and France, hence three of the Grand Slam venues being in English-speaking countries.
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Many foreign players can be heard to urge themselves to “c’mon” and in most international tournaments the umpires call out the score in English as well as the language of the host nation.
As for foreign footballers’ command of English, football also originated in England with Sheffield FC being the oldest club in the world.
Also, there is a huge incentive for foreign players to play in the Premier League, the richest in the world.
Our awkwardness with foreign languages could be partly due to our insularity while landlocked or semi-landlocked countries seem to interact more easily with their neighbours.
Brian H Sheridan
Redmires Road, Sheffield, S10