Fifteen-love ...

How do you comprehend 77 years, anyway?

Thirty-love ...

How do you perceive a chunk of time so vast, it stretches all the way back to when Nazi Germany menaced the continent?

Forty-love ...

How do you grasp the depth of the fact that right there, on the first Sunday in July in 2013, the deathless sentence fixed to die? The sentence, "No Brit has won the Wimbledon men's singles title since Fred Perry in 1936," prepared to yield after seven decades and seven years, with Andy Murray from Dunblane, Scotland, serving for the Wimbledon final against No. 1 Novak Djokovic. Surely it would fizzle, after becoming such a congealed fixture that all keyboards at Wimbledon should have come with special keys that, with one punch, would have spat out, "No Brit has won the Wimbledon men's singles title since Fred Perry in 1936," saving all chroniclers the usual chore. Here it would go to the dustbin, the sentence that had gathered steam and then moss and then old age and even inflexibility ...

Forty-fifteen ...

Here at Wimbledon, the Brits had perfected the sport, hatched and developed the prettiest little purple-and-green sporting ground on the planet at the All England Club, welcomed the world annually. And here 64 British men had entered Wimbledon in 1937, 47 by 1940, 38 by 1950, 18 by 1960, 11 by 1970, three by 2013, and through all that time, none had won or even come achingly close. Through a gaping era between 1974 and 1996, none reached even a quarterfinal. Bunny Austin found the final in 1938, Bobby Wilson made five quarterfinals between 1958 and 1963, Mike Sangster made the semifinals in 1961, and Roger Taylor the same, thrice, between 1967 and 1973. And then Mr. Tim Henman from Oxford ...

Forty-thirty ...

It started getting even louder near the turn of the century, when Henman started getting close, when his eight quarterfinals and four semifinals became annual themes, when a section of the grounds filled with fans watching on video and forming "Henman Hill." But from 1997 to 2000, the champions list went P. Sampras, P. Sampras, P. Sampras and P. Sampras, and in 2001, the rain wrought Henman's crazy three-day semifinal with a crazy Croatian. When Henman lost the last half of the fifth set against Goran Ivanisevic on the final Sunday, you might have heard a fan at the Tube station say drearily, "Tim lost," and that voice might ring in your head, still (even if a British tennis ache could never match any soccer ache).

Deuce ...

So of course, it would have to come to deuce. It would have to be part horror. Anything else wouldn't fit. You would have to have Murray, nibbling for years with three semifinals, plus the country's first finalist slot in 74 years (2012), plunge from 40-love to deuce, start to "feel nervous" and think "about what just happened" in going from 40-love to deuce.

Advantage, Djokovic ...

 "You know, the last four or five years, it's been very, very tough, very stressful, a lot of pressure," Murray said. "The few days before the tournament, really difficult, as well. It's so hard to avoid everything because of how big this event is, but also because of the history and no Brit having won."

Deuce ...

No Brit had won, but a Serbian, Djokovic, had. And a Croatian. And a Dutchman. And a Frenchman. And an Egyptian. And a Czech. And a mighty Swiss. And two Spaniards. And two Swedes. And two Germans. And nine Australians. And 17 Americans. So this hovering, howling burden just had to get to ...

Advantage, Djokovic ...

Now the noise on those grand grounds had found levels the players found rare, and the heat seemed hotter, the video-screen throng more tense. If the No. 1-ranked Djokovic, that pinnacle of all manner of elasticity, could forge this break, Murray's two-set lead would start to crater, just you watch ...

Deuce ...

 "It's the hardest points I've had to play in my life," said Murray, by then age 26 years and 53 days and infinity tennis points.

Advantage, Djokovic ...

So yeah, the sports thuds did seem to accelerate on Earth in 2013: the horror of Oscar Pistorius, the fraud of Lance Armstrong, the scandal in Indian cricket, the scandal at the Miami drug clinic, the scandal in Bangladeshi cricket, the concern for human brains in American football, the match-fixing scandals in soccer, the teeming streets of soccer-profligate Brazil. You might wonder why you even bother to follow, except for moments like the first Sunday in July, on the greatest little patch of grass ...

Deuce ...

Here would come the continuing redefinition of the British athlete, from the bygone years of extolling gallant defeat, to the medal-rich Olympics of Beijing and London, to the Tour de France, and all of it. Way out yonder from 1936 in 2013, here would come a scene with not only Murray's coach Ivan Lendl, the stoic who came up aggrievedly shy at his two Wimbledon finals, but a strong woman who had solved much. Judy Murray had been the first architect of her second son's game, the person who could get right to the troubleshooting when he'd dial her from the road in the early tour days. A woman who had tried the tour herself in the early 1980s before retreating home. A woman whose first son, Jamie, won a Wimbledon mixed doubles title. Into the long-sought and unbearable moments around 5 p.m., London time, on July 7, she had a pounding heart, a raging fret she tried to conceal just in case he noticed, a fear of the meaning of a collapse.

Advantage, Murray ...

"That last game will be the toughest game I'll play in my career, ever," said Murray, who by 2013 had fashioned one sturdy brain.

Game, set and match, Murray, 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 ...

"I have no idea what happened," 2013 Wimbledon champion Andy Murray said to the BBC moments later. "No idea."