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noun [countable] informal

the wife or girlfriend of a professional tennis player competing at the Wimbledon tennis championships

'Today, give a big, warm welcome to the WOWs. The Wives Of Wimbledon are taking centre stage as the famous tennis tournament enters its second week.'

The Mirror 4th July 2006

The climax of the Wimbledon tennis championships is approaching, and as the men's final is played, there'll be two individuals sitting anxiously at the side of centre court, longing to hear the words 'game, set and match' followed by the surname of their beau. For them, it's not just a tennis match, but a love match which is at stake, as they belong to the WOWs, the female partners of the top players competing in the men's singles championship.

the WOWs are similar to WAGs … but they're portrayed as calm, sensible and supportive

WOW is an acronym of Wives of Wimbledon, a tongue-in-cheek expression taking inspiration from the rather more unfortunate-sounding term WAG, coined recently to refer to the Wives and Girlfriends of famous professional footballers during media coverage of the 2006 World Cup. WOW might be a catchy homonym of a word expressing surprise or admiration (for example: Wow, this guy can play! He wowed audiences with his performance. The wow factor …), but WOW also has far more positive connotations than WAG. WOWs are similar to WAGs in that they are beautiful, fashion-conscious women, but rather than having a reputation for regularly partying the night away, they're portrayed as calm, sensible and supportive.

Background – WOW

Hot on the heels of WAG as an acronym of wife and girlfriend, WOW as an acronym of Wives of Wimbledon has made its debut in the 2006 championships. It's a great example of how language propagates, especially in journalistic contexts, but time will tell whether one or both expressions turn out to be ephemeral.

Fuelled by British player Andy Murray's unexpected win against American number 1 Andy Roddick, the terms Murraymania and Murraymaniac are rapidly gaining currency, and on the evidence of Henmania and Henmaniac before them, coupled with Murray's youth and long-term potential, they could emerge as seasonal features of English:

'With Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski gone, Murraymania dominates for British fans after his first-round dismissal of Chile's Nicolás Massú on Tuesday.'

The Guardian 29th June 2006

'More than 42,000 "Murraymaniacs" supporting their hero on Wimbledon's "Henman Hill" sat in tears as he slumped to a straight sets defeat.'

The Sun 4th July 2006

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 3rd July 2006.

Open Dictionary

Dunning-Kruger effect

the phenomenon by which an incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence

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