Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Grass Court Awards: Top Performers & Performances

The grass court season presents its own unique challenges, as players often practice on the surface for just a few days before taking part in a month-long (well, now five week) sprint that often leaves some players by the wayside, while others with more adaptable or grass-friendly games take advantage of the boost in confidence that the lawns provide.

Umm, or not. Hello, Petra... I see you there. Well, at least SOME players seize the moment...

The top players and performances...

*2Q.2 - "GRASS COURT AWARDS" - Weeks 22-27*
1. Serena Williams, USA
...Serena's ten month-long slam title drought finally came to an end in London, where she closed out a tough 2nd Round match (vs. Christina McHale) with three straight aces and never looked back en route to her sixth Wimbledon crown, turning the tables on Australian Open conqueror Angelique Kerber and (finally) getting a Steffi Graf-tying 22nd major singles title. With her standing atop the game once again fully backed up with the Venus Rosewater plate, she then joined with her SISTER Venus and swept through the doubles (winning 12 of 13 sets) for career doubles slam title #14.
2. Angelique Kerber, GER
...after some hit-and-miss results in the aftermath of her Australian Open title, Kerber arrived in London healthy and ready to remind everyone how she's remade herself as a more aggressive defensive specialist with a distinct lack of fear of the big stage. A QF run in Birmingham got her some needed match play, then she came to Wimbledon and won twelve straight sets (even Serena didn't do that through the first six rounds), defeating Simona Halep and Venus Williams along the way to reaching her second major final of the season. Once there, she didn't defeat Serena again, but both sets were decided by just a few points in their latter stages, and Williams won out during both key stretches. Still, Kerber's follow-up to her career-altering success in Melbourne returns the German to the #2 ranking, and solidifies her new standing as a player who can be counted on (along with the likes of Azarenka and Muguruza) to give her best effort in a big-time match-up vs. the world #1. Let's keep that one snugly in our back pocket, shall we? For Rio, as well as New York.
3. Williams/Williams, USA/USA
...the vision of the Sisters, shoulder-to-shoulder, on a doubles court together hasn't been a common one of late, largely due to Venus' Sjogren's-related issues, unless it's been Serena's advancement into the latter stage of slam singles competition. This year's Wimbledon title run was only their ninth appearance in a slam in the last twenty-four majors (they'd won six of the previous nine slams prior to that). The win, their sixth at SW19, gives them a 42-2 record at the AELTC (and an overall 14-0 mark in slam finals). Of course, 2016 is an Olympic year, so the Sisters Doubles won't be put away for next year. Rio may (but who knows, really?) present the siblings with their final opportunity to claim another Gold medal together. They've already won the Olympic doubles three times on three different continents in 2000 (Sydney), '08 (Beijing) and '12 (London). South America, here they come... sporting a 15-0 in Olympic competition, and looking for more, more, more.
4. Venus Williams, USA 36, Venus added yet another successful chapter to her long Wimbledon history, turning back the clock to post her best result at SW19 since 2009 while becoming the oldest singles semifinalist since 1994. She even picked up slam doubles title #14 with Serena, as the Williamses moved into a tie with G.Fernandez/Zvereva for the second-most wins in the Open era behind Navratilova/Shriver (20).
5. Jiske Griffioen, NED
...the top-ranked women's wheelchair tennis athlete, 31-year old Griffioen became the inaugrual winner of Wimbledon WC singles competition, claiming career slam singles title #4 (all in the last six slam competitions starting with the '15 AO). The Dutch woman will be seeking her first Paralympic Gold in Rio. She's already won a singles Bronze in London four years ago, and Doubles Silvers at the last two Games.
6. Dominika Cibulkova, SVK
...trailing by a set and a break vs. Aga Radwanska in Eastbourne when rain suspended play, Cibulkova didn't seem to be about to become a grass court bride right before she became an ACTUAL bride. But the Slovak took advantage of her night to regroup, returning the next day and rallying to take that match, then run off six additional wins (nine straight overall) to claim her first career grass court title and reach the Wimbledon QF, once again defeating Radwanska in the Round of 16 in a three-set instant classic in which Cibulkova won a 9-7 3rd set. On the following Saturday, Cibulkova's wedding ceremony even went off without a hitch. Needless to say, Domi's had quite a summer so far.
7. Elena Vesnina, RUS
...after ending the '15 season outside the Top 100 for the first time in a decade, Vesnina has staged a successful half-season comeback campaign. It all reached a new level on the grass as she followed up an Eastbourne semifinal with her first career slam singles SF result at Wimbledon. The only set the Russian lost en route came in the 4th Round vs. doubles partner Ekaterina Makarova (Vesnina won a 9-7 3rd). She ultimately fell at the mighty hands of Serena (or should it be at the hands of the mighty Serena? Hmmm.), then later that same day lost with Makarova in the WD QF vs. Serena again, this time with Venus by her side. Still... talk about taking a little disappointment and spinning an entirely new reality for herself and her career.
8. Yaroslava Shvedova, KAZ
...the Kazakh was a double -- make that triple -- threat during the grass season, no matter who (or if anyone) was by her side. She won the Rosmalen doubles with Oksana Kalashnikova, then reached the Eastbourne SF and Wimbledon final with Timea Babos. In the SW19 mixed with Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, she reached another semifinal. But maybe her best run came when Shvedova was all on her own, reaching the Wimbledon singles QF (at #96, she's the sixth-lowest ranked woman to go so far) after putting up wins over Top 20 player Elina Svitolina, former finalist Sabine Lisicki and '14 semifinalist Lucie Safarova before going out only after having a good showing vs. Venus.

9. Yui Kamiji & Jordanne Whiley, JPN/GBR
...the best-buddies teamed to three-peat as Wimbledon Wheelchair Doubles champs, claiming their eighth slam championship as a pair. Kamiji has won all three slam WD titles in 2016 (taking the AO w/ Marjoliein Buis, RG w/ Whiley), but the competition won't be contested at the U.S. Open as it will be replaced on the summer schedule by the Paralympic Games in Rio this September. Kamiji probably won't be able to complete the WC equivalent of a "Golden Slam" with a lower-ranked Japanese partner, but don't count her out.
10. Karolina Pliskova, CZE
...the Czech was the best player over the course of the three-week pre-Wimbledon grass season, winning a singles title in Nottingham, a doubles title (w/ Strycova) in Birmingham and reaching the singles final in Eastbourne. But slams are where Pliskova dreams of grandeur go to perish, and it happened again with a 2nd Round SW19 exit (she's still yet to reach a Rd. of 16 at a major). But Karolina rebounded in doubles, teaming with Julia Goerges to reach the semis after getting a win over #2-seeded RG champs Garcia/Mladenovic. The duo had shots in both sets vs. the Williams Sisters, but ultimately lost in straight sets.

Timea Babos/Yaroslava Shvedova, HUN/KAZ: runners-up to the Sisters at SW19 after upsetting #1 Hingis/Mirza
Caroline Garcia, FRA: she won her first career grass title in Mallorca
Madison Keys, USA: the Birmingham champ reached the Round of 16 at Wimbledon
Tara Moore, GBR: a $50K challenger final and Nottingham QF got her a WC into Wimbledon, where she notched her first MD slam win
Anastasia Potapova, RUS: the Russian won the junior grasscourt singles titles at Roehampton and Wimbledon
CoCo Vandweghe, USA: CoCo was on fire with a title in Rosmalen, Birmingham SF and sterling first three rounds at SW19, but then her serve let her down in the Round of 16
Heather Watson, GBR: the first British woman to win the Wimbledon MX title since '87

1. Angelique Kerber, GER
2. Dominika Cibulkova, SVK
3. Yui Kamiji & Jordanne Whiley, JPN/GBR (WC)
4. Karolina Pliskova, CZE
5. CoCo Vandeweghe, USA
6. Madison Keys, USA
7. Caroline Garcia, FRA
8. Elena Vesnina, RUS
9. Simona Halep, ROU
10. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS
11. Jana Cepelova, SVK
12. Monica Puig, PUR
13. Kristina Mladenovic, FRA
14. Alison Riske, USA
15. Johanna Konta, GBR
16. Misaki Doi, JPN
17. Kurumi Nara, JPN
18. Daria Gavrilova, AUS
19. Christina McHale, USA
20. Genie Bouchard, CAN
21. Sloane Stephens, USA
22. Zheng Saisai, CHN
23. Timea Babos, HUN
24. Aleksandra Krunic, SRB
25. Kiki Bertens, NED
26. Aniek Van Koot, NED (WC)
27. Alison Van Uytvanck, BEL
28. Paula Kania, POL
29. Madison Brengle, USA
30. Luksika Kumkhum, THA
HM- Lara Arruabarrena, ESP

1. Daria Kasatkina, RUS
2. Ana Konjuh, CRO
3. Jelena Ostapenko, LAT
4. Julia Boserup, USA
5. Belinda Bencic, SUI
6. Ekaterina Alexandrova, RUS
7. Elise Mertens, BEL
8. Maria Sakkari, GRE
9. Katerina Siniakova, CZE
10. Annika Beck, GER
11. Catarina Witthoeft, GER
12. Anett Kontaveit, EST
13. Yulia Putintseva, KAZ
14. Eri Hozumi, JPN
15. Risa Ozaki, JPN
HM- Richel Hogenkamp, NED

1. Tara Moore, GBR
2. Julia Boserup, USA
3. Veronica Cepede Royg, PAR
4. Mariana Duque, COL
5. Duan Yingying, CHN
6. Aliaksandra Sasnovich, BLR
7. Anna-Lena Friedsam, GEr
8. Viktoriya Golubic, SUI
9. Kateryna Kozlova, UKR
10. Louise Hunt, GBR (WC)
11. Zhang Kailin, CHN
12. Natalia Vikhlyantseva, RUS
13. Ana Bogdan, ROU
14. Andrea Ka, CAM (ITF/non-grass)
15. Suzy Larkin, GBR (ITF/non-grass)
HM- Jovana Jaksic, SRB

1. Serena Williams, USA
2. Angelique Kerber, GER
3. Venus Williams, USA
4. Jiske Griffioen, NED (WC)
3. Dominika Cibulkova, SVK
4. Elena Vesnina, RUS
5. Yaroslava Shvedova, RUS
6. Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
7. Barbora Strycova, CZE
8. Aga Radwanska, POL
9. Carla Suarez-Navarro, ESP
10. Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
11. Marina Erakovic, NZL
12. Mandy Minella, LUX
13. Alize Cornet, FRA
14. Lucie Safarova, CZE
15. Kirsten Flipkens, BEL
16. Tamira Paszek, AUT
17. Tatjana Maria, GER
18. Varvara Lepchenko, USA
19. Jelena Jankovic, SRB
20. Tsvetana Pironkova, BUL
HM- Akgul Amanmuradova, UZB (ITF/non-grass)

1. Serena Williams/Venus Williams, USA/USA
2. Venus Williams, USA
3. Elena Vesnina, RUS
4. Yaroslava Shvedova, KAZ
5. Ashleigh Barty, AUS
6. Anastasija Sevastova, LAT
7. Evgeniya Rodina, RUS
8. Genie Bouchard, CAN
9. Amra Sadikovic, SUI
10. Sorana Cirstea, ROU
11. Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
12. Kateryna Bondarenko, UKR
13. Peng Shuai, CHN
14. Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, ESP
15. Melanie Oudin, USA
HM- Daniela Hantuchova, SVK

1. Petra Kvitova, CZE
2. Martina Hingis/Sania Mirza, SUI/IND
3. Victoria Azarenka, BLR
4. Garbine Muguruza, ESP
5. Ana Ivanovic, SRB
6. Karolina Pliskova, CZE (Wimbledon singles)
7. Kristyna Pliskova, CZE
8. Caroline Garcia/Kristina Mladenovic, FRA/FRA
9. Olga Govortsova, BLR
10. Martina Hingis, SUI (MX) & Sania Mirza, IND (MX)
11. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, SVK
12. Timea Bacsinszky, SUI
13. Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Lucie Safarova, USA/CZE
14. Chan Hao-Ching/Chan Yung-Jan, TPE/TPE
15. Jocelyn Rae/Anna Smith, GBR/GBR
16. Roberta Vinci, ITA
17. Irina-Camelia Begu, ROU
18. Andrea Petkovic, GER
19. Marjolein Buis, NED (WC)
20. Klara Koukalova, CZE
HM- Belinda Bencic, SUI

1. Anastasia Potapova, RUS
2. Dayana Yastremska, UKR
3. Oleysa Pervushina, RUS
4. Usue Arconada/Claire Liu, USA/USA
5. Kayla Day, USA
6. Sonya Kenin, USA
7. Gabriella Taylor, GBR
8. Claire Liu, USA
9. Usue Arconada, USA
10. Jodie Anna Burrage, GBR
11. Mariam Bolkvadze, GEO
12. Olga Danilovic, SRB
13. Anastasia Zarytska, UKR
14. Bianca Andreescu, CAN
15. Mariam Bolkvadze/Caty McNally, GEO/USA
16. Katarina Zavatska, UKR
17. Jodie Anna Burrage/Panna Udvardy, GBR/HUN
18. Alexa Noel, USA
19. Gabriella Price, USA
20. Lucrezia Stefanini, ITA
HM- Varvara Gracheva, USA
1. Amina Anshba, RUS
2. Rebeka Masarova, SUI
3. Kaja Juvan, SLO
4. Ashley Lahey, USA
5. Wiktoria Kulik, POL
HM- Manca Pislak, SLO and Oleksandra Andrieieva, UKR

1. Serena Williams/Venus Williams, USA/USA
2. Yui Kamiji/Jordanne Whiley, JPN/GBR (WC)
3. Heather Watson, GBR (MX)
4. Timea Babos/Yaroslava Shvedova, HUN/KAZ
5. Karolina Pliskova/Barbora Strycova, CZE/CZE
6. Karolina Pliskova/Julia Goerges, CZE/GER
7. Andrea Hlavackova/Peng Shuai, CZE/CHN
8. Anna-Lena Groenefeld, GER (MX)
9. Yang Zhaoxuan/Zhang Kailin, CHN/CHN (ITF)
10. Raquel Atawo/Abigail Spears, USA/USA
11. Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina, RUS/RUS
12. Daria Gavrilova/Daria Kasatkina, AUS/RUS
13. Olesya Pervushina/Anastasia Potapova, RUS/RUS (jr.)
14. Dariya Jurak/Anastasia Rodionova, CRO/AUS
15. Jodie Anna Burrage/Panna Udvardy, GBR/HUN (jr.)
16. Gabriela Dabrowski/Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, CAN/ESP
17. Vania King/Alla Kudryavtseva, USA/RUS
18. Gabriela Dabrowski/Zhang Zhaoxuan, CAN/CHN
19. Christina McHale/Jelena Osatpenko, USA/LAT
20. Sanaz Marand/Melanie Oudin, USA/USA (ITF)
21. Aleksandra Krunic/Jelena Jankovic, SRB/SRB
22. Oksana Kalashnikova/Yaroslava Shvedova, GEO/KAZ
23. Anna-Lena Friedsam/Laura Siegemund, GER/GER
24. Demi Schuurs/Renata Voracova, NED/CZE
25. Xenia Knoll/Aleksandra Krunic, SUI/SRB
HM- Elise Mertens/An-Sophie Mestach, BEL/BEL

1. Alison Riske, USA
2. Marina Melnikova, RUS
3. Tara Moore, GBR
4. Evgeniya Rodina, RUS
5. Yang Zhaoxuan/Zhang Kailin, CHN/CHN
6. Rebecca Sramkova, SVK
7. Stephanie Foretz, FRA
8. Ashleigh Barty, AUS
9. Melanie Oudin, USA
10. Catalina Pella, ARG
11. Mayo Hibi, JPN
12. Sanaz Marand/Melanie Oudin, USA/USA
13. Michelle Larcher de Brito, POR
14. Oceane Dodin, FRA
15. Tamira Paszek, AUT
16. Wang Yafan, CHN
17. Samantha Murray, GBR
18. Richel Hogenkamp, NED
19. Robin Anderson, USA
20. Magdalena Frech, POL
21. Elitsa Kostova, BUL
22. Georgina Garcia Perez, ESP
23. Donna Vekic, CRO
24. Storm Sanders, AUS
HM-Katy Dunne, GBR
1. Pauline Parmentier, FRA
2. Elitsa Kostova, BUL
3. Susanne Celik, SWE
4. Isabella Shinikova, BUL
5. Jil Teichmann, SUI
6. Viktoriya Tomova, BUL
7. Anastasiya Komardina, RUS
8. Sara Sorribes Tormo, ESP
9. Anna Kalinskaya, RUS
10. Antonia Lottner, GER
11. Valetini Grammatikopoulou, GRE
12. Nina Stojanovic, SRB
13. Rebecca Sramkova, SVK
14. Angelica Moratelli, ITA
15. Valeria Solovyeva, RUS
16. Nadia Podoroska, ARG
17. Lina Gjorcheska, MKD
18. Viktoria Kuzmova, SVK
19. Alexandra Perper, MDA
20. Gabriela Pantuckova/Magdalena Pantuchova, CZE/CZE
HM- Hanna Chang, USA

#1 - Serena Catches #22
How dare we question the continued ability of Serena Williams to maintain her position at the top of the game? With a handful of players nipping at her heels, and with her just one title-less Wimbledon away from being shut-out of being the reigning champion at any of the slams for the first time in four years, Serena took the AELTC and threw her own backyard BBQ over again. Over the span of the fortnight, she notched career slam match win #300, reached 300 weeks in the #1 ranking during her career, fired her 800th ace at the All-England Club, held serve in 30 straight games without facing a break point and finally put away her seventh Wimbledon singles titles to tie Steffi Graf's record of 22 slam wins in the Open era. Oh, and then she went out and won the doubles with Venus, too, taking home SW19 title #6 and the Sisters' overall 14th slam championship.
#2 - A Prelude to a Future?
Slowly but surely, Madison Keys has been building up her game and confidence since her breakout Australian Open semifinal run last year. After proving herself on her least favorite surface (clay) during the spring, Keys finally arrived at the grass court season that she admitted to longing for. She had quite the week in Birmingham, simultaneously propping up the growing prospects of U.S. women's tennis, while also shining a light on what has been a hard-to-fathom drought of epic proportions. First, the 21-year old secured a spot in the Top 10 for the first time. While a great and worthy accomplishment, it wouldn't seem QUITE as big a deal if you didn't know that the last U.S. woman to debut in the Top 10 was named Williams. As in Serena. As in 1999. As in SEVENTEEN years ago. Her entry means there were three Bannerettes in the Top 10 for the first time since September 2005.

Keys then went on to grab her second career tour title (the other also came on the grass, at Eastbourne in '14), becoming the youngest tour singles champ so far in '16 with wins over Timea Babos, Tamira Paszek, Jelena Ostapenko, Carla Suarez-Navarro and Barbora Strycova.
#3 - Where the Pliskovae Roam
If ever Karolina Pliskova is going to have her slam breakthrough, maybe it'll happen during the grass season, the Valhalla of Czech tennis for decades. It didn't happen at Wimbledon this year (at least not in singles), but Pliskova's performance in the three weeks leading up to the season's third slam at least officially "welcomed" her into a season that had seen her remain conspicuously outside the gates, save for another clutch Fed Cup performance, through most of the first six months of 2016. Her high point came in Nottingham. After she dropped the opening set of her 1st Round match vs. Anastasija Sevastova, Pliskova then ran off ten straight sets with additional wins over Anna Tatishvili, Ashleigh Barty, Monica Puig and Alison Riske in the final. The win was Pliskova's fifth career title in thirteen WTA finals (she reached another at Eastbourne two weeks later), and her first career grass court crown.
#4 - Pride of the Bride
What was earlier this season a "comeback" story from Achilles' surgery began to resemble something more during the grass season. Dominika Cibulkova's run to the Eastbourne title will likely go down as one of her most satisfying accomplishments. After putting down an irritable Jelena Ostapenko in her first match, Cibulkova overcame two sisters (Kateryna Bondarenko and Aga Radwanska, the latter after a rain suspension set the stage for a two-day comeback from a set and a break down and various other tight spots), blew out Monica Puig in her second match of the day on Friday and then took out arguably the best (at least the "most accomplished") grass court player (Karolina Pliskova) of the month of June in the final. It was the Slovak's first career grass final/title, and she was the first player on tour this season to reach singles finals on hard, clay and grass courts (Williams and Kerber joined her by reaching the Wimbledon final two weekends later). She rode the momentum to a QF result at SW19, finishing just in time to keep her wedding on schedule, and now finds herself less than 30 points from a return to the Top 10.

#5 - CoCo Channels Her Inner Grass Gladiator
At Rosmalen, CoCo Vandeweghe won her second title at the tournament in the last three years. The wins are the Bannerette's only two career WTA singles title runs. Her no-sets-lost route to the title included victories over Indy De Vroome (CoCo vs. Indy!), Mayo Hibi (CoCo vs. Mayo!), Evgeniya Rodina, Madison Brengle and, finally, Kristina Mladenovic (CoCo vs. Kiki!) in a 7-5/7-5, oft-interrupted-by-rain final. Vandeweghe is now just one of five active singles players (though one of those is currently on suspension) with multiple grass court titles in their career, and her rankings bump earned her a seed at the All-England Club, where she rode her serve to a Round of 16 result year after eaching the QF. But, most importantly, that's a big ol' cup...

HM- A Pastry in Spain Plays Mainly on the Plain Grass
Caroline Garcia's first career grass court title in Mallorca allowed her to pass her doubles partner Kristina Mladenovic in the singles rankings and lock away a seed at Wimbledon (Kiki got one, too, as it turned out). Wins over Carina Witthoeft, Anna-Lena Friedsam, Ana Ivanovic, Kirsten Flipkens and Anastasija Sevastova gave the Pastry a 10-1 mark in her last eleven matches and a 3-2 career mark in WTA finals. But the biggest news may have been how Garcia's Fed Cup (singles and doubles) and duo success with Mladenovic may be greatly improving her confidence, as well as the corresponding singles results on the tour level. She picked up career title #2 on the clay in Strasbourg right before Roland Garros, and this was #3 on yet another surface just two weeks before still another slam. One would hope that Garcia will see fit to push her schedule up as close to the U.S. Open as possible later this summer. Next season, though, the aim will be to time her quarterly peak performances so that they coincide with the BIG events, not the "preliminaries."

Venus & Serena Williams, playing at Wimbledon for the first time since Serena's odd, stumbling "virus-related" exit from the WD two years ago, were in fine form at the All-England Club, winning their sixth SW19 title and 14th overall slam crown. They're tied for the second-most ever by a duo in the Open era, and are just six away from matching the record (oh, no... another number to chase).
After a disappointing singles effort (a 1st Round loss after nearly upsetting Serena last year), Heather Watson ended her fortnight in London with a flourish, becoming the first British woman to win the Mixed Doubles title since Jo Durie in 1987, taking the honors with Fin Henri Kontinen over Anna-Lena Groenefeld & Robert Farah. The unseeded Watson & Kontinen, playing together for the first time, had advanced through the first two MX rounds via walkover and defeated only two seeds -- the #15 & #16 duo, though the latter was none other than Hingis/Paes, the defending SW19 champs fresh off having completed a Career MX Slam as a team in Paris.

Dariya Jurak & Anastasia Rodionova took down some "biggies" in Eastbourne, disabling the Dabrowski/Kasatkina and #1 Hingis/Mirza threats early on, then eliminating Groenefeld/Peschke (the 40-year old Slovenian returned to action this spring for the first time since February '15) in the semis. The pair finished up by battling back from a set and a break down in the final to take out the #2-seeded Chan sisters. At a combined age of 66 (Jurak-32, Rodionova-34), they're tied with Medina-Garrigues/Parra-Santonja as the second-oldest doubles champions (behind the "70-year old" Williamses) on tour this season.


Anastasia Potopova claimed the Wimbledon Girls title, defeating Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska in a final in which the last game of the match saw the 15-year old Russian fight off two BP, overcome two MP being overturned via replay and ultimately win on her seventh MP of the game. She's the fourth different Hordette to win a junior slam since the start of 2014, the second straight to win Wimbledon (Zhuk '15) and the fourth Russian girl to lift the SW19 girls title since the fall of the Soviet state.
Before heading to the AELTC, Anastasia Potapova warmed up for her eventual SW19 title run by also taking the Roehampton junior event. The #4-seed defeated her fellow Hordette and doubles partner, #1-seeded Olesya Pervushina, in a 6-4/6-3 final. Brit Jodie Anna Burrage teamed with Hungary's Panna Udvardy (#7 seeds) to defeat top-seeded Pervushina & Potapova in a 15-13 match tie-break in the doubles final. Pervushina would go on to lose in the Wimbledon singles SF, while she and Pervushina reached the doubles final there, as well, losing to Usue Arconada & Claire Liu, who became the first all-Bannerette Wimbledon champions since 1989.

Finally, Rebeka Masarova lost a tennis match. The Roland Garros junior champ saw her 16-match clay court winning streak snapped by Hordette Amina Anshba in the final of the Grade 1 clay court German Juniors event in Berlin a few weeks before Wimbledon. The 16-year old Russian took out Masarova in the final, 7-6(3)/3-6/6-4, preventing the Swiss teen from becoming the girls #1 with a win. Anshba decided not to play the junior event at Wimbledon one year after the SW19 event had featured an all-Russian (Zhuk d. Blinkova) girls singles final, but Masarova did despite having had no grass tune-up events. She lost in the 3rd Round to British WC Gabriella Taylor.
In the Grade 4 International Grass Court championships in Haverford, Pennsylvania is was a battle of 13-year old Bannerettes for the title. Alexa Noel defeated Gabriella Price 6-2/6-2. Price was playing in her first top level junor event. At the Orange Bowl event last December, she defeated Noel in the 2nd Round of the 14s competition.

31-year old Dutch WC #1 Jiske Griffioen became the first-ever Wimbledon Wheelchair Singles champ, raising her career slam singles total to four, with a three-set win over doubles partner Aniek Van Koot.
In the Wimbledon Wheelchair Doubles, common foes met for a 13th time, and the 10th time in a slam final. #1 Yui Kamiji & Jordanne Whiley won their third straight Wimbledon title, defeating #2-ranked Jiske Griffioen & Aniek Van Koot (fresh off of meeting in the singles final the day before) in two dominating sets.

Championssssssss!!!!!! #wimbledon2016 #3times ???????? it's a hat-trick!!!!!

A photo posted by Jordanne Whiley (@jordanne_joyce) on

Griffioen was playing in her sixteenth straight slam doubles final (6-10), fifteen (and ten straight) of them with Van Koot by her side. With both Griffioen and Kamiji having occasional different partners, the two women met in their thirteenth straight slam final, with the Japanese woman increasing her head-to-head lead in those matches to 9-4 record. Kamiji/Whiley lead the head-to-head between the teams by an 8-5 margin (7-3 in slam finals).

#1 - If I Could Turn Back Time...
At 36, Venus Williams becomes the oldest Wimbledon semifinalist since 1994 (Navratilova-37), putting up her best SW19 result since '09 on the heels of having her best Roland Garros since 2010. She also teamed with Serena to win the doubles title, their 14th slam win. Back in the Top 10, with the prospects of another Olympic Gold beckoning in Rio, Venus needn't answer any of THOSE questions at the moment. "Retiring is the easy way out," she said. "I don't have time for easy."
#2 - The German Threat
Less than six months after winning her maiden slam title in Melbourne, Angelique Kerber reaches the Wimbledon final without dropping a set, defeating Simona Halep and Venus Williams, thus becoming just the third player to ever notch slam wins over both Sisters while never having been ranked #1 herself. Hey, there's nothing that says Kerber can't eventually remove her name from the list at some point, though. Granted, it wouldn't be anything close to easy, but she's shown in '16 that she's capable of the additional feat.
#3 - Strycova Doubles Down
In Birmingham, Barbora Strycova became the first person since Maria Sharapova (in 2004) to reach both the singles and doubles finals at the event. The 30-year old Czech, a singles finalist in the event two years ago, reached her second final of the year (w/ Dubai) with wins over Karolina Pliskova, Heather Watson, Tsvetana Pironkova and CoCo Vandweghe (so that's three grass court title winners, including BOTH from the previous week, and a former Wimbledon semifinalist) before falling to Madison Keys. The Czech is now 1-6 in career tour singles finals. She rebounded later on Sunday with a win in the doubles with Fed Cup teammate Pliskova as she played in both an event's finals for the second time in her career (Palermo '12).
#4 - Back for More Cash... and victories
Until Jelena Ostapenko changes the course of history, Anastasija Sevastova is the only Latvian to win a WTA singles title in more than twenty years. After retiring due to a longstanding battle with injuries and illness in 2013, she returned last season and had immediate ITF success, winning four tournaments in her first few months back. Later in the summer, she reached the Florianopolis SF, her first such result in a WTA event since 2013, and ended the season at #110. Heading into Mallorca, the 26-year old was up to #82, and her string of wins over Stefanie Voegele, Genie Bouchard, Mariana Duque and Jelena Jankovic put her in her first tour-level final since she won her only WTA title in Estoril in 2010. She lost to Caroline Garcia. Still, days later she played in her first Wimbledon MD match since 2011.
#5 - Darn the Luck
Tamira Paszek is still only 25, but it's been nine long years since her breakout season when she reached a pair of Round of 16's as a 16-year old in her first season of slam action. The Austrian has a history of grass success, including a tour title in Eastbourne in 2012, back-to-back Wimbledon QF results in 2011-12 and successful Wimbledon qualifying runs the last two years. Paszek fell to Ashleigh Barty in the final round of Nottingham qualifying, but made the MD as a lucky loser and got victories over Kurumi Nara and Magdalena Rybarikova to reach the QF. A few weeks later, she qualified for Wimbledon for a third straight year.
#6 - The Revolution Continues
Don't count out the now thirtysomething (or nearly so) members of the back half of last decade's Russian Revolution just yet. At 29, Elena Vesnina came into 2016 following her worst season on tour in a decade. Fighting her way back up the rankings all year, the Hordette reached her mountaintop (so far) at Wimbledon, reaching her first career slam singles SF and lifting her ranking into the Top 25. Vesnina is the third surprise semifinalist at a major this season, joining Johanna Konta (AO) and Kiki Bertens (RG) on the third step of the slam "medal stand" in 2016.
#7 - Tripling Her Pleasure
Somewhat under the radar, Yaroslava Shvedova was a true triple threat at Wimbledon. She reached the singles QF (at #96), the mixed SF and the doubles final, putting up a tournament-best 12 overall victories. Well, at least it was until Serena won the singles AND doubles finals and edged her out with wins #12 and #13.
#8 - Pica Power
Monica Puig's breakout season continued on the grass. After reaching the Sydney final as a qualifier in January, she qualified (her fourth successful Q-run of '16) and reached the semis in Eastbourne. MD wins over Naomi Broady, Ana Konjuh, Caroline Wozniacki and Kristina Mladenovic put the Puerto Rican into her third semi of the season. Also a semifinalist in Nottingham in June, Puig was 10-3 on the grass heading into Wimbledon, where she dropped her 1st Round match after having had 3rd Round results in Melbourne and Paris. Puig showed an affinity for the surface right from the start of her WTA career, actually, reaching the Round of 16 in her Wimbledon debut in 2013. After going just 15-23 in WTA main draw matches a season ago, Puig is 27-16 this year (+ 10-1 in qualifying) and has raised her ranking nearly sixty places to a new career-high of #33.
#9 - Good on Ya, Ash!
With her professional cricket career behind her, 20-year old Aussie Ashleigh Barty returned to tennis back in February. But after great success in doubles (three titles in four finals), it wasn't until the start of grass court season that the 2011 Wimbledon Girls champ picked up her singles racket once again. It was like riding a bicycle. She notched six wins in qualifying and MD matches to reach the semis (losing to eventual champ Alison Riske) in a $50K in Eastbourne in her first singles action since the 2014 U.S. Open, putting up wins over Ula Radwanska, Daniela Hantuchova and Tamira Paszek. Then she had a successful Q-run in the tour-level Nottingham event, knocking off Zhang Yifan (love & love), Paula Cristina Goncalves and Paszek (again), all in straight sets, and followed up with additional MD wins over Jessica Pegula and Andrea Hlavackova to reach the QF, where she stretched eventual champion Karolina Pliskova in a pair of tie-break sets. The result was Barty's best singles result of any kind since April '13 in a $25K challenger in Pelham, and her best in a tour event since February of that season in Kuala Lumpur. She lost in SW19 qualifying to Luksika Kumkhum, who'd go on to upset Timea Bacsinszky in the 1st Round.
#10 - Continental Divide Shift?
Who says South Americans can't play on grass? Not Veronica Cepede Royg and Mariana Duque. Paraguay's Cepede Royg made her way through Mallorca qualifying with wins over Renata Voracova, Grace Min and Julia Glushko, then followed up with MD wins over Zheng Saisai (a semifinalist in Nottingham) and Laura Siegemund (in three hours) to reach the QF. She was the first woman from Paraguay to do that on grass in a tour-level event... ever). VCR served for the 1st set in the QF vs. Kirsten Flipkens, as well, but lost in straights to the Belgian. Meanwhile, she was joined in the final eight by Colombia's Duque, who'd won just two MD matches on grass in her career prior to the week. In Spain, she knocked off Alison Van Uytvanck and former Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki to reach her second QF of the season. She lost in three sets to Anastasija Sevastova (the eventual finalist), then fell in the opening round of Eastbourne qualifying in three sets to 2015 Nottingham finalist Ana Konjuh, who'd soon after take Aga Radwanska to edge of defeat at SW19.

Petra Kvitova -- aka "Merciless Petra" -- destroyed wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time Sorana Cirstea in the 1st Round of Wimbledon. The Czech opened the match by breaking the Romanian. She held at love to take a 3-0 lead after just seven minutes. Eight minutes later, Kvitova closed out a love set win in FIFTEEN minutes with an ace to hold at love again. In all, it was Kvitova's third love game of the set, an opening stanza in which she won 24 of 28 points, losing as many as two in a single game just once. Cirstea played better in the 2nd set, which lasted :38. She at least let it be known that she wasn't going to be simple roadkill, as in the opening game the Swarmette saved two break points and held in a three-deuce game. But Kvitova went up 40/15 in game #5 and got the 3-2 break advantage that she never relinquished. She won 6-0/6-4 in :53, losing just two points on her 1st serve on the day and eight total points on serve. She never faced a BP, and committed just eight unforced errors. Let me repeat that... Petra Kvitova committed just eight unforced errors. Not in a stretch of play between changeovers, either. In a single match.

Of course, this is a "One-Match" performance award because, well, two-time SW19 champ Kvitova ended up losing one round later to Ekaterina Makarova in a straight-sets match pushed back, interrupted and delayed for days because of the rainy first week Wimbledon weather.

Oh, Petra.

In the Invitational doubles competition, wouldn't you know it, Martina Navratilova was a Wimbledon champion yet again. At age 59 (she turns 60 after this year's U.S. Open, which marks the ten-year anniversary of her final pro slam title in the Mixed Doubles in 2006, 32 years after she won her first slam crown in 1974). She and Selima Sfar won the final over Lindsay Davenport & Mary Joe Fernandez after taking a 1st set TB 7-5, and then Davenport essentially forced MJF to retire in order to not hurt herself seriously. Fernandez had injured her left leg just prior to the TB, but eschewed any medical attention and went ahead and played the breaker. But she could barely move around the court, limping and hunched over in a way that often made her to resemble a 90-year old man. Well, not really... but if you squinted your eyes, maybe.

For Navratilova, if you count her regular wins during her career, it's her 23rd overall Wimbledon title (9 singles, 7 doubles, 4 mixed, 3 Invitational). The oldest to win the Invitational event, this is her third Invitational win, with the others coming in 2009 (w/ Helena Sukova) and '10 (w/ Jana Novotna)... before Martina Hingis came in and won three straight titles (2011-13 w/ Davenport) before heading back to the regular tour.

Go, Original Martina!

And don't forget...

[Best On-Court Friendship]

[Oddest/Most Artistically Beautiful Trophy]
Depending on the tilt of your head.

[Most Unexpected Student]

[Future on Fleek]
The Dashas!

So much fun playing with this girl! Looking forward to our next tournaments together ??@kasatkina

A photo posted by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on

[Best Height Differential]


Our yearly Eastbourne height difference photo ?? @daria_gav

A photo posted by Naomi Broady (@naomibroady) on


[Best England-101 Quiz]

[Best Quote... maybe, you know, ever?]
Venus Williams: "I don't think anyone feels older. You have this infinity inside of you that feels like you could go on forever."

[Best Online Campaign]

I am sure your mother would be proud of you if she saw this! So sad! I usually don't answer haters and very rarely look at my DMs, however behavior like this, bullying, as well as death threats have become more and more "normal" in today's world. It's easy to hide behind a screen and write abuse to others. At this point I have grown pretty immune to haters, but there are a lot of people out there who are being called names worse than this every day, and they don't have the same voice, to be able to speak up or fight back.. So let's STOP bullying!! Let's help build each other up, tell your friends and family today that you love them and care for them! Give a stranger a compliment, smile! It's the small things! You never know what kind of day they have had unless you have walked a mile in their shoes, and even the smallest encouragement and compliment can mean the world and make someone's day! That's all! Have a beautiful and blessed day everyone????

A photo posted by Caroline Wozniacki (@carowozniacki) on

[WTA Wedding Album]

Flavia! Fabio! Flavio??



[Best Eagle-Eye Spotting of an Italian]

And, finally...

Be ever vigilant, and never forget.

STILL TO COME: The Match Lists

All for now.


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