#Wimbleweird, #Wimblepun, #Wimbledumb, #Wimbledone. These were just a few of the creative Twitter hashtags used by many to describe this past fortnight that proved once again that every 20 years or so usually everything that you never expected would happen on the biggest stage of tennis, actually will.
I don’t know if there was any sanctioned theme song to this year’s event (perhaps by Emeli Sandé?), but the unofficial one could be Edith Piaf’s anthem that inspired the French Foreign Legion and since then anyone drawn into battle, personal or otherwise. Who could or should be humming this stirring tune after the two last weeks? Quite a few in fact.
Perhaps the chief groundsman at Wimbledon is a good start. Despite being backed up by tournament organizers that in fact everything was in order regarding the grass itself used on the lawns of the AELTC, it could not have been a good feeling watching so many players falling down left and right in the first week. Yes, transitioning from clay to grass in a short time span is part of the challenge of Wimbledon. But you have to wonder if the carnage of this year will influence any literal seeds of change for the next.
Venus Williams and her unfortunate withdrawal from Wimbledon certainly left a big hole at least in terms of her mere presence on the courts she ruled for so long. If and when we see Venus back on a tennis court is very TBD at the moment. Will we ever see her back at Wimbledon? Well, only Venus herself holds that answer.
Roger Federer certainly has nothing to regret in his historic career. But is he perhaps thinking about the “what ifs” in his match versus Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round that saw the defending champion look at times like one of the spectators watching Stakhovsky continue to charge the net at every opportunity? Federer will be back on the lawns of Wimbledon again, but his road to perhaps that record eighth title appears to be getting longer and harder now.
Sabine Lisicki, who was anointed the winner before she raised the trophy, put on a brave smile after losing in the finals. But after yet another bravura performance at Wimbledon, we are still left to wonder “what if” about the German’s future. Will she be forever tagged as a “Wimbledon specialist”? Or can she translate her winning game to other tournaments on other surfaces now? If so, she may indeed become the next big WTA superstar so many have been waiting for.
I don’t know if there is a Polish version of the song, but Agnieszka Radwanska may want to sing it every day to help keep her sanity after missing out on a huge chance to win her first major. One thing is for sure, she doesn’t regret for a moment that stone cold handshake she gave Lisicki after their semifinal.
Juan Martin Del Potro proved again he is getting closer to perhaps winning yet another major. But though the self-described” “magic pills” helped numb the pain from his bandaged knee, will he rue having played on if that knee doesn’t heal in time for the wear and tear of the U.S. Open where he will enter as a dangerous threat for the title?
Andy Murray certainly has nothing to regret, especially his hiring of Ivan Lendl that added the final piece to the often maddening puzzle that was the Scot’s game. A bigger forehand, a better and bigger serve and a desire to be more aggressive when it matters has now elevated and cemented Murray firmly into “Big Four” status. If anyone deserves to exhale and revel in this moment, it is Murray.
But will Murray suffer a letdown of sorts after an incredible 12 months with Murray winning Olympic gold, the U.S. Open and now Wimbledon? Now that all the angst of “will he do it?” is finally over, will that make Murray more or less compelling to watch? Or will his many fans, especially in the UK, transfer that angst to Laura Robson or to young Kyle Edmund who is already being called, “the next Andy Murray”?
But if anyone should be singing at the top of her voice, it is Marion Bartoli who outwitted, outlasted and outplayed everyone else without dropping a set. It doesn’t matter how high or how low in the rankings her seven opponents were during her route to the title. Any sports tournament is set up with one simple goal for all who compete – win and advance.
After years of being labeled, and with some good reason, as the sport’s misfit, how satisfying it must be for Bartoli that after all the “unique” training methods she endured and the trials, personally and professionally on court and off, that she can now see her name on the wall of honor of the tournament she longed to win the most. I’m not sure, as John McEnroe mused, that millions will be inspired to pick up the sport after seeing Bartoli win, but her run to the title was surely the feel good moment of the event.
These two weeks weren’t exactly a fairytale, but it definitely had the stuff that movies are based on. And it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a year from now a poster at the Cannes Film Festival promoting French Oscar winner Marion Cotillard in “The Marion Bartoli Story”.
Don’t believe me? After this Wimbledon we should have learned by now that anything, and I mean anything, is possible. And if there’s a hashtag both Bartoli and Murray could use to describe their fortnight it may simply be – #WimbleWon