The photographer toured the four tournaments shooting thrilled fans instead of sweaty stars. He talks about why street photography is becoming impossible – and life after his cancer diagnosis
It’s the morning after the night before at the US Open and the sports sections contain images of triumph and defeat. Ecstatic Emma Raducanu lying prostrate on the tennis court. Bereft Novak Djokovic sobbing into his towel. The photographer Martin Parr would have liked to have watched the finals, but he’s been unwell and incapacitated, stuck on one floor of his house with the TV on the other. He briefly considered watching on his laptop but it just seemed too much bother. “I like tennis tournaments,” he says, a little sheepishly. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that I like tennis per se.”
In this, one suspects, he is not alone. Parr’s new book Match Point offers a vivid globe-hopping tour of the four grand slam tournaments, bounding from Melbourne to Paris to London to New York and mingling with the spectators as they ogle their iPhones or sunbathe on the grass or guzzle iced coffee at the refreshment stand (the book was commissioned by the Italian coffee firm Lavazza). Most people, he points out, visit Wimbledon in the same spirit that they would attend Ascot or the Chelsea flower show: it’s a social event, an excuse to dress up. They might spend the entire day in the grounds at SW19 and go home without seeing a single ball being served.