Favourite Places: Tim Henman
Tim Henman, party animal - who'd have thought it? Ahead of Wimbledon, the British tennis legend talks wine, local hangouts and, er, more wine.
That Tim Henman likes a drink… not a sentence I ever thought I’d write but it turns out the Mr Nice Guy of British tennis is a lot more fun than you might imagine. Having grown up in Weston-on-the-Green near Bicester, North Oxfordshire, the 43-year-old 2001 Wimbledon semi-finalist now lives in the deep south – well, Aston Tirrold near Didcot to be precise – with his wife Lucy and their three daughters.
He’s currently gearing up for his yearly Wimbledon stint as a BBC TV pundit. Predictions, please? “It’s still The Roger Federer Show at the moment so let’s enjoy him while we still can. And Britain’s Johanna Konta is in the world Top 10 and had a decent run last year so I’d like to see how far she can go.” You read it here first, people!
The tournament starts on 2 July but first up is Tim’s annual pro-am doubles tournament and dinner on 27 June. It raise funds for the Tim Henman Foundation, his charity that works with children disadvantaged by poverty, illness or disability. (If you fancy going along and taking on the likes of Andy Murray – and I admire your confidence, I really do – then find out more here).
OK Tim, the warm-up is done so time to serve up your favourite hang-outs please…
Olivier at The Red Lion, Britwell Salome, Oxon
The French chef-patron Olivier Bouet used to run a brilliant pub, The Sweet Olive, in our village. That’s now closed sadly – we are publess, it’s terrible – but Olivier has popped up here instead. These days instead of a short stumble a few hundred yards home, we have to get a cab – but it’s worth it for the amazing modern European food. We go for here for a family Sunday lunch or for dinner with friends in the evening. The wine is excellent. Am I connoisseur? Hmmm, that’s too strong a word but I do like my wine and I have a cellar full of it. Champagne, rosé, white and red – there’s not much I don’t drink to be honest!
The Pig Hotel, Brockenhurst, New Forest
I had my 40th birthday party here. It was a good night from what I can remember. I like the concept of this lovely country house hotel that has the feel of a home from home but with wonderful service, delicious food and a great spa. We went for a whole weekend – my family came down on the Friday night and then left, then I hosted a big group of friends in a private dining room on Saturday night. We started drinking Champagne in the garden at 5pm and kept going until 5am.
Orlebar Brown, Wimbledon
This is where you’ll find me having a little browse when I’m having a break from work during Wimbledon. They do well-cut holiday clothes in nice, simple colours. I’ve been there today actually and bought some swimming shorts, two polo shirts and a linen shirt. Am I good at dressing myself? I’m not bad! Being on TV, you soon work out what works and what doesn’t. I wouldn’t say I exactly enjoy shopping – I bulk buy and do it quickly.
Le Clos, Wallingford, Oxon
More wine! I’m a big fan of this little wine bar in the centre of Wallingford. It reminds me of a skiing chalet with its wood-panelled walls and wooden floorboards. It’s a nice spot to catch up with friends early evening over a glass or two and some nibbles. Go for the charcuterie or cheese board. Or both.
The Swan at Streatley, Berks
This riverside hotel restaurant is just five minutes down the road from me. It’s undergoing major refurbishment at the moment so the restaurant is closed – it’s reopening next year as a Coppa Club, a cool all-day Italian dining spot. (I sometimes go to the Coppa Club down the road at The Great House in Sonning for brunch – they do a good smashed avocado and poached eggs on toast.) There’s also a great, modern gym at The Swan. I found when I stopped playing professionally, the less exercise I did, the worse I felt. So these days I do cardio, weights, core work and stretching, little and often. And I also go out running with our two black Labs.
Huntercombe Golf Club, Oxon
Golf is one of my big passions and I’m a member of this club near Henley. On a nice summer evenings I go play a round with my friends. I actually play more golf than tennis these days. Am I as good at golf as I am at tennis? No, but I’m getting ever worse at tennis!
Olympic Studios, Barnes, London
We moved out of London 14 years ago but still have a house in Barnes. I stay there during Wimbledon. The Olympic used to be an historic recording studio but it’s now a private member’s club, with a restaurant, bar and cinema. It’s great because you can eat really good food and drink really good wine from the restaurant menu, in a big comfy chair, while watching a film.
Britannia @ The Beach, Beesands, Devon
I spend a lot of time in Devon because my in-laws have a place in Slapton. I like going down there out of season, in November or December when it’s quiet. We get everyone out for a long walk along the coastal path. Britannia @ The Beach is a simple little shack with the most amazing fresh seafood, including prawns, lobster, sea bass and Dover sole. And you can bring your own wine. I like a good walk but it has to have a destination – a pub at the end is a good incentive, I find.