ILLUSTRATIONS BY FERDINAND VAN ALPHEN
Now in the 4th round of play, let us turn our attention across the pond to The Championships, Wimbledon! As the tournament gets into full swing, here are the 10 things you need to know to be a tennis pro…
CONGRATS TO 2017 LADIES’S SINGLES CHAMPION GARBINE MUGARUZA
& 8-TIME MEN’S SINGLES CHAMPION ROGER FEDERER!
1. The Championships, Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world.
The first Wimbledon championship took place in 1877 when only Men’s Singles were played. Ladies’ Singles and Men’s Doubles events came on the scene in 1884.
2. Wimbledon is the only major played on grass… today.
Prior to 1975, three of the four majors — the US Open, Australian Open, and Wimbledon — were all played on grass. Only the French Open was not. Wimbledon is played on the grounds of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, and during the event, the grass is cut to a height of exactly 8mm. As the tournament progresses, the wear and tear becomes obvious as the baseline gets browner and browner. This used to appear at the T, when the game was more serve and volley, but the style of play has shifted over the years to a baseline game. There is usually no play scheduled on the middle Sunday to allow the courts to recover from Week 1 and be thoroughly watered for optimum performance in Week 2.
3. The dress code is all white… and they mean it!
That includes no off-white or cream either. It is strictly enforced from head to toe, as Venus Williams learned in her first match. With a hot pink sportbra peeking out beneath her shirt, she was forced to change mid-match. Maybe it was good luck because…
4. Venus Williams is in the finals!
At age 37, Venus Williams is playing for her 6th Wimbledon title! With a dominating win against Johanna Konta in the semis, she goes up against Garbiñe Muguruza, who also crushed her semi-final match against Magdalena Rybarikova. It will be breakfast at Wimbledon Saturday morning with the ladies of Center Court!
5.The players with the most Wimbledon championships are:
Martina Navratilova with nine victories in Women’s Singles; and in Men’s Singles, the new record is now held by Roger Federer who just won his eighth championship!
6. There is no tie breaker in the final set.
This was most notable in the longest tennis match in history played at Wimbledon in 2010 between John Isner and Nicolas Mahout. It lasted 11 hours 5 minutes over the course of 3 days – the last set clocking in at 8hrs 11 minutes! Muhut won the match in the fifth set: 6–4, 3–6, 6–7, 7–6… 70–68!
7. Since 2003 only four different players have won the Men’s Singles:
Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Novak Djokovic — and all four are into the round of 16. Is it time for an upset? Only Federer still remains in this year’s draw, so there might be a chance… although Federer hasn’t lost a set yet this tournament.
8. A first round loss wins you £35,000.
Seven players have already defaulted their first round matches because of injuries, each earning £35,000, or roughly $45,000, just for stepping on the court. Both Federer and Djokovic won their first round matches as a result. With a number of these players coming into Wimbledon already injured, there has been a lot of talk as to whether this is fair. Yes, these are lower ranked players who are not earning the big bucks of the top seeds, but the controversy has been whether they are playing a few games and retiring just to pick up a paycheck. It has short changed those spectators who paid and often traveled to watch a Wimbledon match… not an injury default. Nor does it seem right for those “lucky losers”, players who lost in the Wimbledon qualifying tournament, who could have been playing here instead. Federer, among others, has called for a rule change and no doubt this conversation will continue.
9. The most inspirational player at Wimbledon.
2-time Women’s Singles Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova is playing her first major here this year — just six months after an intruder broke into her apartment in the Czech Republic and slashed her dominant left hand with a knife as she fought him off. For her hand surgeon, that’s been one way to score Wimbledon box seats, who has been her special guest. Though Kvitova lost in her second round match, her comeback has been astonishing, overcoming what could have been a career-ending injury.
10. The Men’s final we were dying to see? Federer v. Nadal!
But sadly Nadal was knocked out in the round of 16 by Gilles Muller in an epic 5-set battle. For both Nadal and Federer however, 2017 has been one of the best seasons of their careers. Topping off a dominating clay court season with wins in Madrid, Monte Carlo, and Barcelona, 2-time Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal won a record 10th French Open. Coming back after a long layoff and knee surgery in February 2016, 7-time champion Roger Federer won the Australian Open, his first major back, in a grueling 5-set battle with Nadal. He skipped the French Open just to get ready for Wimbledon. The rivalry between these two players always brings out their best play, with matches that go the distance and never disappoint!
On a final note…
Our hearts go out to Bethanie Mattek-Sands who suffered a devastating knee injury in her second round match. We’re wishing you a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing you back on the courts soon!