Bloody hell, who doesn’t love a good fairy tale story in sport? A good feel-good story? A real Cinderella fable?

And folks, let me tell you, this one is an absolute ripper.

A tennis coach who ordinarily teaches kids the finer points of basic backhands in the British Midlands produced the boilover of the century in knocking off world number 54 Ricardis Berankis of Lithuania on Day 1 of Wimbledon.

Ordinarily the number 54 ranked player in the world exiting a grand slam tournament in the first round isn’t really news. But when you consider that the bloke who beat him was ranked at 772 – repeat: SEVEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY TWO – you start to get a picture as to how big this is.

Brit journeyman Marcus Willis had to win through six rounds of qualifying just to even step foot on a court at Wimbledon, his first-ever ATP tournament appearance. But in knocking off Berankis (and in straight sets, no bloody less) Willis has very quickly become the story of the tournament.

The 25-year-old very nearly retired from the sport altogether last year, amid rising credit card debt, a belief that his career wasn’t exactly taking off as planned, and a string of injuries.

In fact, he had a potential coaching job in Philadelphia lined up, and may well have taken it had it not been for a a chance meeting with his now-girlfriend.

“Don’t know if I would have gone or not. But yeah, I met the girl. She told me not to, so I didn’t. Do what I’m told.”

A once-talented junior, Willis had fallen to bad habits, poor preparation, and a self-confessed shitty attitude towards his sport who was once sent home before the 2008 Australian Open juniors tournament in disgrace. It was only a matter of 3 years ago that he decided to turn himself around and discovered the work-level required to make a serious crack of things.

“I was a bit of a loser. I was overweight.”

“I was just a loser. I don’t know. I just looked myself in the mirror, I said, ‘You’re better than this’.”

Even then, getting this far has been an almighty battle. Willis only managed to scrape into the pre-qualifying tournament after someone else withdrew. And from there, he’s caught fire; amassing a seven-game winning streak that has now taken him all the way to the second round of Wimbledon, where he will now face Roger Federer on a stadium court at the All England Club.

The scenes on the outside court 17 when Willis picked up the win were extraordinary, with a raucous contingent of mates cheering him on. The crowd even featured his girlfriend Jenny, a dental assistant, who only managed to swing the time off work to come see Willis play when the suction equipment at her work failed and all patient appointments for the day had to be cancelled. Seriously. You cannot make stuff this perfect up.

Even his post-match press conference was incredible, with the humble and quite humorous Willis just as baffled about all this as the reporters, revealing that the odds of him making it this far have been so stacked against him that he’s been checking out of his hotel room every morning.

Just making it to the first round of Wimbledon netted Willis a pay cheque of £30,000 (about AUD$54,000 depending on the hour, thanks Brexit).

That alone is already about more money made in one day than in his entire career up to this point.

But a second round match? That cheque increases up to £50,000. Not bad for a part-time coach.

There’s no telling where Willis is going to go from here. But you’d bet the dang house on the fact that he’s not gonna be the world’s 772nd ranked tennis player for much longer.

Source: SMH.

Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty.