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, which stretches back to 1996, was imposed on the aging pop star after his painful rendition of 'Singing in the Rain' on Centre Court left spectators traumatised and unable to enjoy the rest of the tennis.
"I've been apologising for that impromptu performance for years" admitted Sir Cliff, "I got a little carried away after one too many strawberry schnapps. I understand that some people are still receiving therapy. I'm delighted that the ban has been over-turned, and I'm on my way to SW1 today".
Some, however, weren't so thrilled with the news. American legend Andre Agassi, who publically blamed the musician for his well documented abuse of crystal meth, said, "this guy nearly ruined my career. As if playing Pete Sampras wasn't hard enough; I remember sitting there, in the drizzle, being serenaded by Cliff telling me it was raining. I became increasingly reliant on crack cocaine for every trip to Wimbledon from that point onward".
Sir Cliff also admitted that he had attempted, on several occasions, to purchase a day ticket in 2001, using the name "Richard Cliff", but was repeatedly foiled by advanced face-recognition security software, despite wearing large novelty glasses and a bushy wig.
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 areas to enjoy the sport they love. No notable albums have since been released, and his public profile has remained satisfyingly low, so we believe he has earned the opportunity to enjoy live lawn tennis once more".
Although Sir Cliff can now attend any Grand Slam tournament at his own free will, Mike Stamp, head of security at Wimbledon has insisted that there are conditions to Sir Cliff’s return. "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 suggestive winks or pelvic-thrusts in the direction of tennis fans will not be tolerated, and he will be swiftly removed from the complex, should this happen".