Hot news from the official Championship Hairdresser: Novak Djokovic has not yet been in for a trim.
What are we to make of that? Last year the world No. 1 was booking in to the on-site salon every other day for the teeniest weeniest trim just to keep his look consistent - a fact stylist Suzanne Strong interpreted as Djoko feeling like he was on a winning streak.
“The men tend to be frightened of having too much off in the first place, and after we’ve cut their hair, they might ask for a second cut before they leave Wimbledon. But for Djokovic to come back after two days, that was all to do with superstition. He only ever wanted a tiny bit off. He has very strong, coarse hair and, because it sticks up naturally, he would notice growth quickly – but definitely not in two days!”
This year, however, no show. The No. 1 seed has been on phenomenal form, not yet dropping a set in his transit to the semi-finals. Perhaps he has been so focused he didn’t have time to drop in early on, and now superstition has kicked in? Like Samson in biblical mythology, he may fear his current supernatural strength would be rendered powerless if his mane were cut at all.
‘We are expecting him in,’ reports Suzanne. ‘His agent has popped in a few times to see if we’re not too busy, so we know he wants to come in, but he may be wary of doing anything to change his appearance or routine while he’s playing well. If he came in to Wimbledon with slightly longer hair, he might want to keep it like that. Players are very superstitious about changing anything in that way.’
Suzanne, who has been tending the competitors’ tresses here for 31years, is an accurate tennis-mood analyst. It’s not just a world of snips and styling up in her salon; it’s a radar screen of player confidence and form. Arguably there is no one more attuned to the moods of the players.
Taking a look at the ladies’ semi-finals line-up, for instance, she can reveal that Sabine Lisicki has been notably focused on her preparation from before the Championships even started. “She came in for a trim the week before the tournament started in order to leave herself free to concentrate on tennis.”
Some may see the ladies’ semi-finals as a battle between a Frenchwoman and a Belgian, a German and a Pole. Those interested in hair trends see it as the natural look (Bartoli) versus short and sleek (Flipkens), plaits (Lisicki) against a high pony tail (Radwanska). Suzanne struggles to remember a Last Four which offered such variety of styles.
“Kirsten Flipkens’ neat and groomed look is unusual these days, but it’s short enough to keep out of her eyes. Players tend to have very long or very short hair. It’s the in-between length that can be difficult to keep securely off the face.”
Despite her 31 years of experience, this has been a Wimbledon of shocks for Suzanne too. You would not know it with all the hair bands in use, but after years out of the rankings ‘The Fringe’ has made a huge comeback. “Lots of the girls who come in for a blow dry before going out for the evening have fringes this year. Yelena Yankovic has a lovely heavy new fringe. It can work for players. If it’s long enough, you can grip it effectively out of the way.”