Over the last two weeks…
I wanted to write about the dreary commentary by Doug Adler — who saw it fit to point out everything that he perceived as negative during a match and ruined the thrilling first round encounter between Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova by virtue of his mere presence in the booth.
I wanted to write about how one-dimensional and short-sighted it was that the majority of Dominika Cibulkova‘s discussions in the second week were about her marriage rather than her tremendous run from Eastbourne to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon — including the match of the year against Agnieszka Radwanska.
I wanted to write about how the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club organizers kept walking a tightrope between ignorance and sexism with the way they scheduled a five-time singles champion in Venus Williams to play on Court 18 — something that would never happen to a male athlete.
I wanted to write about the various missteps of the BBC this fortnight: the one where Venus’ hair was “wacky;” the one where a tweet about Serena Williams defending equal prize money included too many ellipses to not be insulting.
I wanted to write about the way Pablo Cuevas and Marcel Granollers threatened to urinate into a tennis ball can on court and harrassed a female umpire so much that she had to be escorted off court — but luckily, Victoria covered most of that.
I wanted to write about the way the “equal prize money debate” reared its ugly head again after the semifinals when Serena Williams put on a blistering performance that was worth every penny she earned.
I wanted to write about how unfortunate it is that John Inverdale is still allowed to commentate on a women’s final three years after making disparaging remarks about Marion Bartoli on air. Maybe he’s not the only one with hay fever.
But then Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber played a final that had all the weight and meaning that we hoped it would have as soon as it was clear they’d square off in the final.
For the first time in 10 years, tennis was treated to a repeat WTA Grand Slam final in the same year and for the third time this year, tennis was treated to a final between two players who’ll sit at World No. 1 and World No. 2 in the rankings post-match.
The American and the German fought for the Venus Rosewater dish in a 84-minute, exhilarating display of tennis — not just “women’s tennis.”
It had it all.
It was a battle of two players who held their nerves on the biggest stage in tennis — and ultimately, the better player on the day won.
Serena Williams finally reached that magic mark of No. 22, and just like with No. 18, it took her a while — but when she got there, it was in breathtaking style. Some doubted, but others asked for more patience. The year 2015 took a lot out of the American — whether she herself admitted it or continued to deny it, and it took her a while to reset. The first glimpses of a supreme Serena returned in Rome, but in the later stages of French Open, things went awry. On the hallowed lawns of Wimbledon, the 34-year old found her calm, her serve and her balance to complete the quest of winning yet another major title — just when people were beginning to doubt her greatness.
A microcosm of her career, if you will.
Kerber showed that her Australian Open run was everything but the flash in the pan that many — including people in Germany who should know better — proclaimed it to be after her early exit in Paris. The Australian Open champion put on a more than valiant showing against Williams in every baseline rally, but ultimately the accumulating pressure of being down 15-0 at the start of virtually each service game of the World No. 1 proved to be too big a hurdle to overcome. The Steffi Graf autobahn remains too broad and overwhelming for any German player to successfully try and emulate — but Kerber’s managed to break out of that track.
She’s treading her own path, one that she should be very proud of.
When all was said and done, Kerber and Williams embraced in a warm hug at the net and the German congratulated the American from her heart for accomplishing yet another milestone in her career — much the same way the World No. 1 had graciously taken a step back when Kerber won her maiden Grand Slam title in Melbourne. She not only let her have her moment, but enhanced it even further by virtue of the class she displayed in defeat.
And it wasn’t just Kerber and Williams that displayed great sportsmanship throughout the fortnight — the same goes for Radwanska and Cibulkova, as well as Sloane Stephens and Svetlana Kuznetsova, who fought two of the toughest and best battles of the fortnight. Each ended up foregoing the handshake in lieu of the a hug at the end of the match, acknowledging each other’s effort.
For every time I wanted to write, rant and complain about the way women in the game got the short end of the stick at some point in the past two weeks, it felt like the women themselves gave the best answers on court — with forehands, backhands, serves, fight and sportsmanship.
To draw inspiration from one of Venus Williams’ many great recent quotes: whenever the naysayers didn’t pick women’s tennis this fortnight, women’s tennis picked itself.
That’s a pretty satisfying note on which to end another Wimbledon.