With the third major of the 2015 season in the books, let’s take one last look back at the weeks that were at Wimbledon…
1. Not only did Novak Djokovic win his third Wimbledon title — bringing his overall total to nine — but he also defended his first major victory outside the Australian Open. That back-to-back performance was the first since Roger Federer earned consecutive titles from 2003-2007. Federer, who lost to the World No. 1 last year, had played six rounds of some of the cleanest tennis over this fortnight, having been broken once, was subdued in press:
“Of course you sort of walk away empty handed. For me, a finalist trophy is not the same. Everybody knows that.”
Federer’s domination of the 2000s has ceased to exist.
2. Serena Williams won her 21st Grand Slam, her second ‘Serena Slam,’ and a sixth Wimbledon singles title. She heads into the US Open as the odds-on favorite to win a calendar-year Grand Slam. Althea Gibson became the first black American woman to win Wimbledon in 1957. Forty years ago, Arthur Ashe became the first black American man to do the same. Venus Williams, Serena’s older sister dominated Wimbledon, as well, winning five Venus Rosewater dishes. She also was the first black woman to reach No. 1 in the world.
Williams continues to live with prejudice, but the very social media that spreads such negativity might also serve as a beacon of hope. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling read a tweet that repeated a tired and out-of-touch claim. Her response was swift.
In another incident, ATP player Sergiy Stakhovsky displayed his homophobia, declaring in an interview: “On the WTA tour almost every other player is a lesbian. Can you imagine – half of them.” Both the WTA and ATP condemned his comments. Stakhovsky once beat Federer at the All England Club, but after an opening round loss to Borna Coric, the Ukrainian might better serve the tennis community by paying more attention to his own game.
3. Martina Hingis won the Ladies’ Doubles title with Sania Mirza, 19 years after her first in 1996. It was their first major doubles title as a team. Hingis also won the mixed event with Leander Paes, their second Mixed Doubles Slam of the year. At 42, Paes appears as motivated as ever. The team is now 10-0. Hingis’ doubles record for the year is 36-9. She has exclusively paired with Mirza since Indian Wells, and have won there, Miami, and Charleston in addition to Wimbledon. Hingis now has 18 combined Grand Slam titles, including singles, women’s and mixed.
4. American junior tennis is on the rise! For the second time this year, an American boy has won a major title. Reilly Opelka defeated Mikael Ymer of Sweden, 7-6(5), 6-4 to win the Boys’ Singles Championship. Opelka followed in the footsteps of Noah Rubin, who won the title in 2014.
Therefore, three of the last seven Boys’ Singles majors have been won by Americans. Standing alongside Rubin and Opelka, who is a towering six-foot-ten, is Tommy Paul. He won Roland Garros. Opelka and doubles partner, Akira Santillan, lost their bid to win Boys’ Doubles, losing to Nam Hoang Ly and Sumit Nagal.
5. Wildcard Denis Kudla was the last American standing this year, surprising pundits all around as a wildcard winner of the Surbiton Challenger. He progressed to the fourth round at Wimbledon, losing in four sets to the U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic. Kudla had appeared at Wimbledon twice, never advancing farther than the second round — making this his best performance at any major in his career. Ranked No. 105 coming in, he has risen eight spots to No. 97 this morning on the ATP rankings.
6. ESPN dropped the ball again. It chose not to broadcast men’s, women’s or mixed doubles finals, becoming more and more apparent that it does not understand tennis, its followers, or the speed with which people use alternate outlets to watch live sports. The conventional and corporate excuse (‘nobody watches doubles’) is a flimsy argument on which to lean. People flooded Centre Court for all three finals — especially as Jamie Murray, Andy’s older brother, and partner John Peers battled for Wimbledon men’s doubles crown.
Activism from writers and, perhaps, from the ATP and WTA, could nudge “The Worldwide Leader in Sports” off its advertiser-driven decision making. But the truth is ESPN should be a leader to its advertisers, teaching them the merits of buying time during live doubles. I’m sure it could put together a few tantalizing statistics that would shift media buyers minds.
7. Petra Kvitova mangled momentum and failed to defend her title. Up a set and a break to Jelena Jankovic in the third round, Kvitova collapsed. “Suddenly from my side, I didn’t have answer,” Kvitova told the press. “My serve didn’t help me at all this time. I was really struggling with each shot I played.”
The meltdown added to a recurring theme of her career storyline. She is unpredictable, no matter how strongly she can perform. Kvitova thumped Kiki Bertens, 6-1 6-0, in 35 minutes to start her campaign. The No.2 seed then cleaned Kurumi Nara’s clock in less than an hour. Perhaps time has come for Kvitova to think about a coach change? She has been with David Kotyza since 2008.
8. Eugenie Bouchard’s slide continues. It’s no longer a matter of ‘sophomore slump,’ either. Without confidence, the Canadian cannot construct points, nor can she raise her once fearless fight, sliding to an 8-13 record for the year. She dumped Nick Saviano at the end of 2014, signing Sam Sumyk. In press after her first-round loss, she intimated that she was at least willing to consider an alternate coach. If she does, she might want to pick a person who can steer her away from the incessant perfectionism — an impossible ideal that plagues her mind and, thus, her game.
9. For the fourth consecutive year, Rafael Nadal failed to make the second week of Wimbledon. Dustin Brown upended the Spaniard with a dazzling four-set clinic using serve-and-volley tactics, thrilling fans all the way. Nadal did not, and could not, find any rhythm or workable strategy. Decisions were speedily erased by Brown’s normal game-playing choices. Brown approached the net 58 times, winning 49 of the points.
The 30-year-old German was ranked No. 102, prior to the tournament and had to qualify for the main draw. As has happened to all four of Nadal’s slayers, Brown lost in the next round — this time to Viktor Troicki. As much of a stir Brown made, he only equaled his best performance at Wimbledon by reaching the third round. All the same, his ranking jumped 22 spots to No. 80, this morning.
10. Finally, a note on Wimbledon.
Is it perfect? No.
Yet, the preeminent home of tennis — and the crown players want on their heads — does present a prim and proper staging. Trophy presentations go off within minutes of a final’s completion, produced in a snappy fashion that keeps excitement levels high, plus ticketed fans and home viewers in their seats.
With that said, the tournament should make a concerted effort to write policy that equally supports men and women when heat becomes an issue for them. The WTA and ATP should also clean up their guidelines, in this same area. Let’s work together people.
What are your takeaways from Wimbledon? Sound off in the comments!