Graham has the advantage as a tennis umpire

Wimbaldon umpire of 40 years Graham Liddle, of Hemel Hempstead.
Wimbaldon umpire of 40 years Graham Liddle, of Hemel Hempstead.
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A BUS driver has celebrated 40 years on the sidelines at Wimbledon.

Umpire Graham Liddle was presented with a crystal cut glass award to mark his dedication to the sport.

He used to attend the famous summer competition as a spectator but later found himself centre stage after spotting an advert for officials in one of the programmes.

In the latest contest, which came to a close this month, the highlights for the 61-year-old were umpiring the ladies final match and shaking Prince Edward’s hand.

“I can go on doing professional tennis until the age of 70,” said Mr Liddle, of Windsor Close, Hemel Hempstead. “I can do another nine Wimbledons. At the moment I’m the longest serving umpire at Wimbledon.”

He has also been a football referee for the last 40 years and now officiates for Berkhamsted Sunday league teams.

He said: “I was never going to be a budding star with a tennis racket in my hand or with football so I went into the officiating side of both sports.”

He hopes to be selected as a tennis umpire for the 2012 Olympics.