Sir Cliff Richard has spoken of his 'sheer elation and joy' following the news that his 17 year Wimbledon ban has finally been lifted by the Lawn Tennis Association. The ban, that stretches back to 1996, was enforced on the multi-award winning popstar after his painful rendition of Singing in the Rain left spectators traumatised and unable to enjoy the rest of the tennis.
"I've been apologising for that performance for years" admitted Sir Cliff, "All I can do is say sorry. I got a little carried away after one too many strawberry schnapps. I understand that some people are still receiving therapy. I'm delighted, I'm on my way to SW1 today".
Roger Draper, head of the LTA explained the reasons behind the sudden change of heart, "Sir Cliff was put on the banned-list back in '96 for a public order offence, and as such we were obliged to fulfil our commitment to providing tennis fans with safe and noise free places to enjoy the sport they love. Seventeen years have now passed and we feel that Sir Cliff has earned the opportunity to enjoy live lawn tennis once more".
Some aren't so thrilled with the news. Australian legend Andre Agassi, who publically blamed Sir Cliff Richard for his early exit from the 1996 tournament said "this guy nearly ruined my career. I had to sit in the rain, getting serenaded by Cliff telling me it was raining. As if playing Pete Samprass wasn't tough enough. Plus I was on crack cocaine; it was a terrible experience".
Although Sir Cliff can now attend any Grand Slam tennis event at his own free will, Mike Stamp, head of security at Wimbledon has insisted that there are conditions to Sir Cliff being allowed back. "Sir Cliff must not sing, hum or indeed speak during any tennis match or on any LTA property. In addition to this, we have reassured the public that any hip-shaking or wiggling will not be tolerated, and he will be swiftly removed from the complex, should this happen".