Saturday, July 09, 2016

The Fingerprints of Greatness

It sometimes seems as if Serena Williams has been chasing SOMETHING for nearly two decades.

First, it was her sister Venus. For a long time, it sort of seemed like the new "rabbit" in the race was acceptance by the masses. While there were still pockets of resistance on that front, the next hurdle to clear eventually became Billie Jean, then Chrissie & Martina. More recently, it's been Steffi. Along the way, she's caught whatever, and whomever, she's chosen to pursue (well, except for that one thing... darn you, Roberta Vinci!).

In her latest Wimbledon final, Williams earned still more warranted grace as another meaningful target fell.

At 34 and having last month lost consecutive slam finals for the first time in her career, Williams came into the third major of 2016 with her career-long reputation intact, but with doubt about her ability to sustain her continued, taken-for-granted level of excellence nibbling at the edges of the collective tennis consciousness. No one was rightly expecting anything "bad," and wouldn't hold it against our memory of her if it was suddenly her new "slightly-downgraded" reality, but we didn't necessarily EXPECT her to resemble her old self at the end of two weeks, either. If Williams lost on Saturday, it'd be for a (new) record third straight major final, and she'd fail to be the reigning champion at at least one major at any given time for the first time in four years. The last time that had been the case Serena was a little more than year beyond suffering a life-threatening hematoma and a pulmonary embolism, had just suffered her worst-ever slam loss in the 1st Round in Paris, and was in just her first year as a "thirtysomething," rather than looking around the corner at 35 as she would have been tomorrow. Even by "new" tennis standards, circa 2016, that would indeed be a case of entering into uncharted territory. Early on at this slam, Williams was challenged by countrywoman Christina McHale in the 2nd Round, dropping the 1st set. She ultimately ended that match in very Serena-esque fashion, firing three straight aces to close out the win. From that moment forward, she'd resembled the Serena we've come to recognize -- and opponents fear -- for so long. She came into Saturday having not lost a set since McHale, holding serve in twenty-one consecutive games without even facing a break point.

Meanwhile, Kerber spent the fortnight continuing her role in establishing a "new paradigm" for WTA success, one in which a player can peak in her late twenties, be intelligent enough to both know what she needs to do with her career in order to take the next logical step AND be willing to follow through on the plan. She came to Melbourne in January off a season in which she'd shined like never before on the regular tour, but had found little success at the slams in 2015 despite having reached two major semifinals in her career. By adding seamless aggression to her defensive game, and remaining determined and fearless enough to not abandon the gameplan in the heat of battle, she rose through the ranks Down Under and grabbed her maiden slam title at the Australian Open, adding her name to the short list of players who have defeated Serena in a slam final. The German's success had been hit-and-miss (a Stuttgart title, but a 1st Round exit at Roland Garros) since, as she'd often been hampered by injury for months. But, finally healthy, Kerber spent the last two weeks in London rediscovering her Melbourne mojo. While everyone was busy watching Serena, her sister Venus and various other developing stories, Kerber motored along on the equivalent of a traffic-less Autobahn, never dropping a set and taking out two Top 8 seeds (#5 Halep, #8 Venus) en route to her second slam final of the year. She'd won her first over Serena at the AO and, despite a 2-5 head-to-head against Williams, had every reason to be confident that if she played her best (again) she'd have the shot to win (also again) in what could be a history-changing moment not only for her, but maybe even for the immediate future of women's tennis, which would have suddenly had a Serena-less run of slam champions crowned for a full calendar year.

What resulted was a match of high quality, with relatively little standing between the two players. One point here or there stood a chance to swing the balance of power far enough to determine which woman would seize the advantage in a set. Both the 1st and 2nd stanzas of the match seemed to hurtle toward an unsure conclusion. Well, until the final stages when, while Williams lifted her game another notch, Kerber flinched just enough to allow Serena to shove her shoulder through the door and raid yet another grand slam trophy case.

The first point of the final let us know what we were in store for on this slightly overcast, breezy afternoon in London. Kerber's defensive skills carried the point, but then she fired a forehand from the baseline for a down-the-line winner to end a rally. Williams would immediately rise above it, winning four straight points to hold, firing an ace on game point. In the next game, Serena's half-volley off a crosscourt forehand from Kerber got the #1 seed a break point, but the German saved it with a mid-court angled forehand down the line, then held in a four-deuce battle with Williams' long reply off a short Kerber ball off the net cord. In all, Kerber saved three BP in the game. It'd be a while before Williams saw another.

Neither woman gave up much for the remainder of the 1st, as the wait began for a distinctive "big moment" when the set would turn for one player or the other. It wouldn't come until game #12.

Serena aced Kerber to go up 6-5, her 27th consecutive hold without facing a BP at this Wimbledon. Finally, with the German serving to stay in the set, Kerber cracked ever so slightly. After having only three unforced errors in the first eleven games, she misfired on back-to-back shots -- a forehand, then a backhand -- to give Williams a double BP opportunity at 15/40. In an otherwise less high quality affair, at another point in the match, the moment wouldn't even have been noticeable. But here it cost her the set, and maybe more. Williams' poor drop shot, which bounced high and teed up a put-away shot for Kerber gave the German a brief reprieve, but Serena wasn't about to waste another opportunity. On BP #2 of the game she fired an angled backhand shot so wide that even Kerber could barely run it down. She got her racket on the ball, but it floated and hit a quarter of the way down the net to give Williams the first break of the match, and a 7-5 1st set win.

Williams' dominant serving stretch continued in the 2nd, as she held in her 28th and 29th straight game without a BP, taking a 2-1 lead. As the fifth game of set began, neither woman had managed a BP chance and every mid-point swing of a racket stood the chance of being dubbed THE instant when things changed. For a few minutes, it looked as if Serena was going to offer up such a moment. With the wind swirling on Centre Court, she hit a double-fault to even the score at 15/15. Was this the moment when Kerber needed to pounce? Maybe. But Williams soon took it out of her hands by regaining control with a wide service winner off the line into the deuce court, then she put away a volley to end a rally and take a 40/15 lead. Kerber saved GP #1 with a forehand passing shot, but then yanked a backhand on GP #2 as Williams held without facing a BP for a 30th consecutive game.

Thus, the search for the 2nd set's "moment" continued.

In game #6, Kerber won a long rally to get to 30/30 on serve. The German's defensive prowess finally forced Williams into a backhand error a point later as Kerber reached GP rather than facing her first BP of the set. Serena's long volley gave Kerber a hold for 3-3. A game later, an overeager Williams roared forward to reach a mid-court ball, overrunning it and getting too close. Without room for a full swing, she hit a forehand into the net to level the score at 15/15 rather than taking a 30/love lead. Was THIS it? Williams then hit a DF. Well??? She got back to 30/30, but then misfired a backhand wide to give Kerber a BP, the first Serena had faced in thirty-one service games.

Yes, this WAS it.

Serena knew it, too. So she called upon her biggest weapon to bail her out of trouble. Back-to-back aces dug her out of her BP hole and gave her a GP, which she put away with a rally-ending forced backhand error off Kerber's racket. Williams had held for 4-3, and with the game also went the German's last best chance.

Smelling title #22, Williams battled back from 40/15 down in game #8, despite seeing Kerber reach double-GP on a point in which -- in a super-rare instance -- both women faced off at the net, with Kerber winning the point on a (mostly-defensive, as in if-I-don't-hit-this-I'LL-be-hit) reflex volley that landed in as Williams fell to the grass in all the confusion. But as Kerber had flinched ever-so-slightly to end the 1st set, she did so again in the 2nd. After Williams forced backhand and forehand errors to save both GP, Kerber fired a backhand long off a Serena return in back-to-back points to end the game and give Williams a break (she hadn't held a BP since game #12 of the 1st) for a 5-4 lead and a chance to serve out the match.


As she had been since crushing the brief McHale threat last week, Williams was focused. She wasn't finished taking names at this Wimbledon. Against Kerber, both helped and (likely) hurt today by her AO win over Serena (who came in knowing she couldn't give the German an inch), Williams was finally ready to put ten month's worth of slam disappointment behind her for good. A wide serve off the tip of Kerber's racket gave Serena a 30/love lead, and when the German couldn't get back another wide serve a point later Williams reached triple championship point. Another wide serve, this one accompanied by a net approach and a volley winner (her 39th winner on the day) made Serena a slam singles champ for the 22nd time, tying Steffi Graf for Open era preeminence and adding yet another line item to her career resume with a 7-5/6-4 victory.

Williams fell to her back in front of the net, and almost comically threw her legs into the air. Though she didn't betray any evidence of its continued existence at this slam, it was clear that the pressure that had been mounting inside her since her semifinal loss at the U.S. Open last summer had finally been relieved. After a warm meeting with Kerber at the net, Serena flashed a pair of "2's" with her fingers. It didn't take a mathematician to catch the significance of the digits.

In the mind's eye of what is perceived to be the definition of greatness, Serena is now "even" with or head and shoulders above most who have ever come before her. Of course, even with slam title #22 (and, later, doubles win #14 with Venus), still more numbers will be thrown in her path over the next series of slams, from Margaret Court's 24 (all-time slam titles), Martina Navratilova's 306 (as in all-time slam match wins, surpassed with a Round of 16 at the U.S. Open) and 9 (overall SW19 singles titles), and even the 20 slam doubles wins by the duo of Navratilova/Shriver. But after a career filled with instances of difficulty and commotion, tragedy and near-tragedy, a steady stream of controversy and, last but not least, almost unfathomable and enduring success, Serena doesn't really need to chase any mere mortal ever again. Not that she's ever really NEEDED to, no matter how much she may have gotten caught up in it all as she's hand-picked a series of numerical targets in order to provide a tangible goal to motivate her to even more accomplishments than she'd already carved out in a remarkable career that now goes back nearly two decades.

But, over time, it's become about so much more than just numbers, for the "acceptance" part of the "chase" always seems to rear its head every time she knocks down another wall.

Over the past season and week, as she's moved closer to another historical feat, Serena has had to continue to deal with all the same lingering questions of equality and respect on numerous fronts. She's handled it all with grace and class (and a bit of Williams-level bite), far more than can be said of those who choose to openly speak against her or offer up an insinuation that HER accomplishments may not be as worthy or valuable as those of others simply because of the presence or absence of a Y chromosome.

Williams, along with her sister and others, may still have to fight interminable, sometimes less-apparent battles, but HER true gains and victories likely won't be fully seen and/or understood until after her tennis career is over, for it will be then that we'll see her legacy live on in all the girls and boys, within tennis and without, who will be able to use her ability to battle against so many opposing forces as a means to discovering their own inspiration to overcome whatever battle they may face. Be it within themselves, or versus outside forces maddeningly slow to see the light. Serena has carved out a legacy by doing it her way for most of the last twenty years, and there's no reason to think that will change anytime soon ever change.

Good for her, and for us.

While some walks are swift and instantly gratifying, others are comparably slow, and with a hard-earned concluding goal maybe not capable of being experienced by all involved in the long fight. But on that day, whenever it comes, Serena can rightly expect that her fingerprints will be able to be found there.

In fact, they'll be found everywhere.

...Serena returned later in the day for the doubles final with sister Venus. They faced off with #5-seeds Timea Babos & Yaroslava Shvedova, the latter of which who lost to Venus in the singles QF.

Not shockingly, the Sisters won, just as they had in their previous thirteen slam doubles finals, as Serena completed a Wimbledon S/D sweep for the fourth time (Venus has done it twice) with a 6-3/6-4 win. Their fourteenth slam title, their first in four years, ties them with Gigi Fernandez & Natasha Zvereva for the second most in the Open era behind Martina Navratilova & Pam Shriver's twenty title runs (which is even with Louise Brough & Margaret Osborne on the all-time list).

So, there you have it, possibly another number to chase.

...early in the day, in the inaugural women's Wheelchair Singles final, it was an all-Dutch affair as doubles partners Jiske Griffioen and Aniek Van Koot (who'll play together in the doubles final on Sunday) faced off for a chance to own a little corner of tennis history.

In the 1st set, the younger (25 to 31) Van Koot got the early break lead at 3-1, only to see Griffioen get back on serve a game later. Van Koot sometimes appears to be the sort of player who will make many great shots, but is sometimes done in by inconsistency, while Griffioen wins by being the the steadiest player on the court. That sort of played out here, as Van Koot eventually broke Griffioen to take the 1st set at 6-4, out-hitting her 11-4 in winners, but wasn't able to carry over momentum into the 2nd. The same thing happened in the semifinals with Griiffioen, as Marjolein Buis won the 1st set in a TB only to drop the 2nd at love vs. her countrywoman and go on to lose in three sets.

The same thing happened in the final.

Griffioen opened the 2nd set with a break of Van Koot's serve, then did it two more times to take a 5-0 led, while also fighting off numerous BP on her own serve. But, serving to force a deciding set, Griffioen held at love to complete the 6-0 set. Both woman had nine winners each in the 2nd, but Van Koot was 0-for-7 on BP chances while Griffioen was 3-for-6.

In the 3rd, Griffioen broke Van Koot to open the set again, setting off a streak of five straight breaks of serve (which ran Van Koot's service loss streak to six service game losses in a row). But, up 3-2, Griffioen was the first player to hold. A game later, she went up love/40 on Van Koot's serve, but the 25-year old fought off four BP and finally held. After trading two more holds of serve, Griffioen served for the title at 5-4. Van Koot took a 15/40 lead, but this was where Griffioen lifted her game. A forehand into the corner was followed by a forehand down the line to get to deuce (making Van Koot just 4-for-18 on BP opportunities). A long Van Koot forehand gave the 31-year old a MP, which Griffioen converted with a forehand winner down the line to secure a 4-6/6-0/6-4 win, once more showing an ability to play her best when it mattered most.

By becoming the first-ever Wimbledon Wheelchair Singles champ, the top-ranked Griffioen raises her career slam singles total to four. She'll go for the sweep, which would add a fourteenth slam doubles win (her eighth w/ Van Koot, who has six others) to her career haul, along with her countrywoman tomorrow vs. #1-seeded defending SW19 champs Yui Kamiji & Jordanne Whiley. the last mixed doubles semifinal, Heather Watson gave the Brits another Wimbledon title hope by advancing to the final with Henri Kontinen (in just their third match together) with a win over Jelena Ostapenko & Oliver Marach. Ostapenko's Austrian partner sort of let her down as the match went on, playing well below the level of his fellow ATP counterpart on the other side of the net while Kontinen meshed well with Watson.

The unseeded Brit/Fin pair will face #14-seeded Anna-Lena Groenefeld & Robert Farah in the final. The last British woman to win the MX title at Wimbledon was Jo Durie (w/ Jeremy Bates) in 1987. ALG is looking for the second SW19 mixed crown (and third overall), having won in 2009 with Mark Knowles. the junior final, #4-seeded Anastasia Potapova squared off with #7-seeded Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska. The 15-year old Russian was looking to become the eleventh different slam-winning girl representing Russia since 1998. A win by Yastremska, 16, would add her name as the third on a list (w/ Kateryna Bondarenko and Elina Svitolina) of junior slam winners from Ukraine.


Both girls sport very nice return games, but their serves leave quite a bit to be desired at the moment. But, hey, they're still very young. The BBC commentators on the match compared Potapova to Caroline Wozniacki (physically, she seems something of a Wozniacki/Sharapova mash-up), while I'd previously noted the similarities of Yastremska to a young, less-refined (think about that for a moment) Vika Azarenka. And you could see those stylistic equivalents play out during this match, too. While Potapova hits few winners, she seems more experienced and contained on court, remaining steady in rallies, not forcing anything and being patient while trying to force an error from her opponent; while the more free-swinging Yastremska has a great fighting spirit, doesn't seem to know a possible winner she wouldn't like to be personally acquainted with, and often seems as if she downed a few gallons of coffee a few hours earlier. In other words, she's quite entertaining to watch.

The first set was, in retrospect, an expected break-fest at Wimbledon. After holding for 3-2, Potapova broke Yastremska to go up 4-2, but then hit a DF on BP a game later to hand the advantage right back. Serving up 5-3, Potapova failed to serve things out, but had her trusty return game to fall back. With the Ukrainian needing to hold to stay in the set in game #10, she got as close as 30/30, but then double-faulted and was broken soon afterward to drop serve for the fourth straight time in a set that saw seven breaks of serve in the ten games, including in the final five. For the set, both girls hit under 50% on 1st serve (Potapova 48%, Yastremska 38%), while the Russian's steadiness won out over the Ukrainian's more unrestrained game. Yastremka hit 10 winners vs. 16 unforced errors, while Potapova had no winners in the set to go along with her 11 UE's.


Surprisingly, the 2nd set began with back-to-back holds of serve. But Potapova got the advantage after breaking for 3-1, then holding again for 4-1. Yastremska held on her fourth GP after staving off a BP in game #6. The Ukrainian came back from 40/15 down a game later, denying Potapova's four GP chances and breaking the Russian for 3-4. But, of course, she then failed to back it up a game later. Potapova took a 5-3 lead and served for the match.

Then things got wild in maybe the craziest game of the tournament.

At 30/30, Potapova hit a DF. Yastremska failed to convert the BP, then had to save a MP. She put away a shot at the net and got her second BP chance. She didn't get that one, either. MP #2 came and went, and so did MP #3 when Yastremska blasted a forehand winner dead into the corner. On MP #4, Yastremska's long return seemed to end the match. Potapova sat down on the court in tears. But wait. Yastremska had challenged the serve, and the replay showed Potapova's serve was out.


Now serving a Second Serve, Potapova returned to the baseline. She fired a shot out on the point and Yastremska had life. On MP #5, another Yastremska wide return precipitated another celebration from the Russian as she emphatically slammed down the ball with her racket. But wait, again. The Ukrainian challenged that serve, too, and it was ALSO out. Potapova threw up her hands, quickly got over it and demanded another ball to serve with, and then went back to play some more. She hit a long forehand to end a rally and Yastremka was STILL alive. On MP #6, Potapova double-faulted. Finally, on MP #7, Yastremska netted a forehand to end a rally and it was all over. No, really.

Potapova won 6-4/6-3, despite having just 4 winners to Yastremska's 21. The Ukrainian had 42 errors to the Hordette's 31. Potapova is the fourth Russian to win the Wimbledon girls title, and the second in a row after Sofya Zhuk's crowning a year ago. The two shared a hug at the net.

The last game is what will be most remembered here, I guess. It somewhat resembled the final game of the Serena/Sharapova QF match in Melbourne from January, when MP after MP went by the wayside although the match had been essentially "over." (Of course, that's the last we'll see of Sharapova as a competitor on a tennis court until... well, who knows?) Here are all 7 MP and the 2 challenges:

...Potapova returned later in the day to play in the girls doubles semis with Olesya Pervushina. The blond, visored #1-seeded Hordettes presented a nearly-identical, towering opposing front against their Bannerette opponents, #4-seeded Usue Arconada and Claire Liu. But it was the U.S. pair who got the better of the Russians, winning in straight sets 7-5/6-4, with Arconada starring throughout the match. But it was Liu who was the lead player in the final game as she served out the match, firing two winners down both lines around a stray point in which Arconada had sprayed an overhead shot that would have given the U.S. duo a MP.

Either way, they'll now advance to Sunday's final, where they'll find another Bannerette waiting for them. Caty McNally teamed with Georgian Mariam Bolkvadze to defeat #3-seeded Kaja Juvan (SLO) & Iga Swiatek (POL) 6-1/6-3 in the other semifinal. The last all-Bannerette duo to win the Wimbledon juniors were Jennifer Capriati & Meredith McGrath in 1989.

LIKE ON DAY 13: Serena reading "Still I Rise."

But, as noted in the responses to the tweet, you might want to skip the comments on the Facebook post of the video. (Seriously, after you wade through a few it'll just piss you off. Of course, I was warned and read a few anyway... so, if you wish, join me in wishing to sick The Rad on certain segments of society.)

If people want to miss out on any enjoyment of one of the greatest rides in the history of sport because it's easier to crack wise, spout sexism or racism to simply get their indigestive jollies, well, to hell with them then.

Serena can continue to rise without their "assistance" or "blessing."

LIKE ON DAY 13: Seven times sweet...


Hmmmm.... ON DAY 13: After Serena's win, ESPN's Chris Fowler referred to Kerber making her work hard for the title, calling the German "a newcomer on the scene."

Hmmm, she's 28, been on tour since 2007, reached her first slam final five years ago in New York and reached the Top 10 in 2012. Is she a "newcomer?" Oh, well. I'll give it a general pass. After all the malarkey we've heard over the past week, that's nothing more than a minor oddly-chosen turn of phrase. Unlike some who've expressed opinions of late, we know that Fowler actually knows who Kerber is and has a generally good take on the overall women's tennis scene.

So... moving on. Well...

Then Again.... ON DAY 13: when showing a brief series of clips from the final game of the girls junior final on ESPN, the name of neither player was ever uttered the entire time as Patrick McEnroe and Cliff Drysdale talked about all the MP challenges. Well, unless you count McEnroe referring to Potapova as "Ostapenko" and Yastremska as "the other girl."

Not the ESPN you want, but the ESPN you have, I suppose.

AND IT BEGINS... ON DAY 13: Suddenly, everyone remembers Margaret Court now.

SUGGESTION TO OLIVER MARACH ON DAY 13: When you go to sleep tonight, lock the door (double-check it!) and slide a full dresser in front of it, too. Ostapenko may be coming for you in the dark of night... and not to say thank you for a mixed doubles semifinal run, either. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

LIKE ON DAY 13: Francesca, as only Francesca could be...

UPDATE ON DAY 13: Everything on schedule, and off without a hitch (after an early-week "scare," that is)...

...and, finally, Steffi speaks for herself...

#1 Serena Williams/USA def. #4 Angelique Kerber/GER 7-5/6-4

Williams/Williams (USA/USA) def. #5 Babos/Shvedova (HUN/KAZ) 6-3/6-4

#15 Groenefeld/Farah (GER/COL) vs. Watson/Kontinen (GBR/FIN)

#4 Anastasia Potapova/RUS def. #7 Dayana Yastremska/UKR 6-4/6-3

#4 Arconada/Liu (USA/USA) vs. Bolkvadze/McNally (GEO/USA)

#1 Jiske Griffioen/NED def. Aniek Van Koot/NED 4-6/6-0/6-4

#1 Kamiji/Whiley (JPN/GBR) vs. #2 Griffioen/Van Koot (NED/NED)

Congratulations @serenawilliams for making history today!! #22! Incredible! #wimbledon #respect #inspiration

A photo posted by Caroline Wozniacki (@carowozniacki) on

Infinity Pumpkins by #YayoiKusama

A photo posted by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

9...Martina Navratilova
8...Helen Wills-Moody
7...Steffi Graf
7...Dorothea Douglass-Lambert Chambers
6...Blanche Bingley-Hillyard
6...Billie Jean King
6...Suzanne Lenglen
[Open era]
9...Martina Navratilova
7...Steffi Graf
5...Venus Williams*
4...Billie Jean King
3...Chris Evert
2...Evonne Goolagong
2...Petra Kvitova*

24...Margaret Court
22...Steffi Graf
19...Helen Wills-Moody
18...Martina Navratilova
18...Chris Evert
12...Billie Jean King
12...Suzanne Lenglen
[total slam titles - active - singles/doubles/mixed]
38...SERENA WILLIAMS (22-14-2)
23...VENUS WILLIAMS (7-14-2)
22...Martina Hingis (5-12-5)

14...Venus Williams (7-7)
10..Maria Sharapova (5-5)
4...Svetlana Kuznetsova (2-2)
4...Victoria Azarenka (2-2)
3...Ana Ivanovic (1-2)
2...Petra Kvitova (2-0)
2...Garbine Muguruza (1-1)
2...Francesca Schiavone (1-1)
2...Samantha Stosur (1-1)
2...Caroline Wozniacki (0-2)
ALSO: Zvonareva (0-2), Hingis (5-7)

7...Venus Williams, USA
5...Maria Sharapova, RUS
2...Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2...Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
2...Petra Kvitova, CZE
NOTE: Hingis (5)

14...Venus Williams (7-7)
10..Maria Sharapova (5-5)
4...Svetlana Kuznetsova (2-2)
4...Victoria Azarenka (2-2)
3...Ana Ivanovic (1-2)
NOTE: Hingis (5-7)

5 - Sabine Ellerbrock, GER (2-3)
5 - Yui Kamiji, JPN (2-3)
1 - Marjolein Buis, NED (1-0)
1 - Jordanne Whiley, GBR (1-0)

AO- #1 Aniek Van Koot/NED d. #2 Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
RG- Sabine Ellerbrock/GER d. #2 Jiske Griffioen/NED
US- #2 Aniek Van Koot/NED d. #1 Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
AO- #1 Sabine Ellerbrock/GER d. #2 Yui Kamiji/JPN
RG- #1 Yui Kamiji/JPN d. Aniek Van Koot/NED
US- #1 Yui Kamiji/JPN d. #2 Aniek Van Koot/NED
AO- Jiske Griffioen/NED d. #1 Yui Kamiji/JPN
RG- #2 Jiske Griffioen/NED d. Aniek Van Koot/NED
US- Jordanne Whiley/GBR d. Yui Kamiji/JPN
AO- #1 Jiske Griffioen/NED d. Aniek Van Koot/NED
RG- Marjolein Buis/NED d. Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
WI- #1 Jiske Griffioen/NED d. Aniek Van Koot/NED

9...Serena Williams (30=2,31=2,32=1,33=3,34=1)
3...Martina Navratilova (2 at 30, 1 at 33)
3...Margaret Court (2 at 30, 1 at 31)
2...Billie Jean King (30 & 31)
2...Chris Evert (30 & 31)
1...Flavia Pennetta (33)
1...Li Na (31)
1...Virginia Wade (31)
1...Ann Haydon Jones (30)

2008 Serena Williams & Venus Williams, USA/USA
2009 Serena Williams & Venus Williams, USA/USA
2010 Vania King & Yaroslava Shvedova, USA/KAZ
2011 Kveta Peschke & Katarina Srebotnik, CZE/SLO
2012 Serena Williams & Venus Williams, USA/USA
2013 Hsieh Su-Wei & Peng Shuai, TPE/CHN
2014 Sara Errani & Roberta Vinci, ITA/ITA
2015 Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza, SUI/IND
2016 Serena Williams & Venus Williams, USA/USA

31...Martina Navratilova
21...Pam Shriver
18...Natasha Zvereva
17...Gigi Fernandez
12...Martina Hingis
12...Jana Novotna
11...Virginia Ruano Pascual

20...Martina Navratilova & Pam Shriver
20...Louise Brough & Margaret Osborne
14...Gigi Fernandez & Natasha Zvereva
[Open era]
20...Martina Navratilova & Pam Shriver
14...Gigi Fernandez & Natasha Zvereva
8...Virginia Ruano Pascual & Paola Suarez
5...Sara Errani & Roberta Vinci

7 - Chan Hao-Ching & Yung-Jan, TPE/TPE
3 - Karolina & Kristyna Pliskova, CZE/CZE
3 - Alona & Kateryna Bondarenko, UKR/UKR

AO: Ana Konjuh, CRO
RG: Belinda Bencic, SUI
WI: Belinda Bencic, SUI
US: Ana Konjuh, CRO
AO: Elizaveta Kulichkova, RUS
RG: Daria Kasatkina, RUS
WI: Jelena Ostapenko, LAT
US: Maria Bouzkova, CZE
AO: Tereza Mihalikova, SVK
RG: Paula Badosa, ESP
WI: Sofya Zhuk, RUS
US: Dalma Galfi, HUN
AO: Vera Lapko, BLR
RG: Rebeka Masarova, SUI
WI: Anastasia Potapova, RUS

2002 Vera Dushevina/RUS d. Maria Sharapova/RUS
2003 Kirsten Flipkens/BEL d. Anna Chakvetadze/RUS
2004 Kateryna Bondarenko/UKR d. Ana Ivanovic/SRB
2005 Agnieszka Radwanska/POL d. Tamira Paszek/AUT
2006 Caroline Wozniacki/DEN d. Magdalena Rybarikova/SVK
2007 Urszula Radwanska/POL d. Madison Brengle/USA
2008 Laura Robson/GBR d. Noppawan Lertcheewakarn/THA
2009 Noppawan Lertcheewakarn/THA d. Kristina Mladenovic/FRA
2010 Kristyna Pliskova/CZE d. Sachie Ishizu/JPN
2011 Ashleigh Barty/AUS d. Irina Khromacheva/RUS
2012 Genie Bouchard/CAN d. Elina Svitolina/UKR
2013 Belinda Bencic/SUI d. Taylor Townsend/USA
2014 Jelena Ostapenko/LAT d. Kristina Schmiedlova/SVK
2015 Sofya Zhuk/RUS d. Anna Blinkova/RUS
2016 Anastasia Potapova/RUS d. Dayana Yastremska/UKR

1965 Wimbledon - Olga Morozova
1971 Roland Garros - Elena Granatourova
1971 Wimbledon - Marina Kroshina
1975 Wimbledon - Natasha Chmyreva
1975 US Open - Natasha Chmyreva
1976 Wimbledon - Natasha Chmyreva
1986 Wimbledon - Natalia Zvereva
1987 Roland Garros - Natalia Zvereva
1987 Wimbledon - Natalia Zvereva
1987 US Open - Natalia Zvereva
1998 Roland Garros - Nadia Petrova
1999 Wimbledon - Lina Krasnoroutskaya
2002 Wimbledon - Vera Dushevina
2002 US Open - Maria Kirilenko
2006 Australian Open - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
2006 US Open - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
2007 Australian Open - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
2009 Australian Open - Ksenia Pervak
2010 US Open - Daria Gavrilova
2014 Australian Open - Elizaveta Kulichkova
2014 Roland Garros - Daria Kasatkina
2015 Wimbledon - Sofya Zhuk
2016 Wimbledon - Anastasia Potapova

2006 Li Na, CHN
2007 Ana Ivanovic, SRB
2008 Agnieszka Radwanska, POL
2009 Sabine Lisicki, GER
2010 Petra Kvitova, CZE
2011 Sabine Lisicki, GER
2012 [Alter Ego] "The Radwanska"
2013 [Upstart] Michelle Larcher de Brito, POR
2014 [New Wheelchair Star] Yui Kamiji, JPN
2015 [Vandeweghe] Coco Vandeweghe, USA
2016 [WC First] Jiske Griffioen, NED

2007 Venus Williams, USA
2008 Tamarine Tanasugarn, THA
2009 Ana Ivanovic, SRB
2010 Vera Zvonareva, RUS
2011 Maria Sharapova, RUS
2012 Mirjana Lucic, CRO
2013 Marion Bartoli, FRA
2014 The White Shorts (of Victoria Azarenka)
2015 Aga Radwanska, POL
2016 Serena Williams/Venus Williams, USA/USA

TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): #5 Simona Halep/ROU
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): #4 Angelique Kerber/GER
TOP LATE-ROUND (SF-F): #1 Serena Williams/USA
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q3: #7 Tamira Paszek/AUT d. Andrea Hlavackova/CZE 6-3/5-7/10-9 ret. (Paszek MP in 2nd, ankle injury; Paszek up 5-3 3rd; Hlavackova ret. w/ cramps, collapses onto back after match)
TOP EARLY-RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 2nd Rd. #3 Aga Radwanska/POL d. Ana Konjuh/CRO 6-2/4-6/9-7 (3 MP, one on net cord; Konjuh rolled ankle stepping on ball)
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): 4th Rd. - #19 Dominika Cibulkova/SVK d. #3 Aga Radwanska/POL (6-3/5-7/9-7; 3:00; Radwanska MP, Cibulkova served for match three times, on MP #3)
TOP LATE-RD. MATCH (SF-F/Jr.): Girls Final [last game]: #4 Anastasia Pervushina/RUS d. #7 Dayana Zastremska/UKR - in final game of match, saves 2 BP and has 2 MP overturned via replay challenge, finally winning on 7th MP of game
FIRST WINNER: #29 Daria Kasatkina/RUS (def. Duval/USA in :51)
FIRST SEED OUT: #25 Irina-Camelia Begu/ROU (lost 1st Rd. to Witthoeft/GER)
NATION OF POOR SOULS: China (1-4 1st Rd.; only win by LL Duan Yingying)
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: Jana Cepelova/SVK, Marina Erakovic/NZL, Julia Boserup/USA (all 3rd Rd.)
LAST WILD CARD STANDING: Tara Moore/GBR and Evgeniya Rodina/RUS (both 2nd Rd.)
LAST BRIT/CRUMPET STANDING: Johanna Konta/GBR and Tara Moore/GBR (both 2nd Rd.)
IT ("WC First"): Jiske Griffioen/NED
COMEBACK: Serena Williams & Venus Williams, USA/USA
CRASH & BURN: #2 Garbine Muguruza/ESP (reigning RG champ and '15 Wimbledon finalist; lost 1st Rd. in under an hour to qualifier Cepelova/SVK)
ZOMBIE QUEEN (TBD at QF): #19 Dominika Cibulkova/SVK & #3 Aga Radwanksa/POL (Cibulkova saved MP and won 9-7 3rd vs. Radwanska in 4th Rd.; Radwanska won 2nd Rd. vs. Konjuh, saving 3 MP, one on a net cord; Konjuh turned ankle stepping on a ball in game #15 of 3rd set, Radwanska won 9-7)
THE RADWANSKA DAY REMEMBRANCE AWARD (June 26 official/Day 3 observed): 74 s/d matches are scheduled: due to rain, 41 are cancelled, 15 suspended and 18 completed. Only 6 matches were both started and finished solely on Day 3, with 4 of those played under the Centre Court roof. But Aga Radwanska opens the Centre Court schedule and wins without incident, while her '16 RG conqueror Tsvetana Pironkova loses in previously unscheduled C.C. match.
DOUBLES STAR: Nominees: Y.Shvedova, H.Watson, Kamiji/Whiley
JUNIOR BREAKOUT: Dayana Yastremska/UKR

All for Day 13. More tomorrow.


Blogger colt13 said...

I think i'm going to have to watch the Girls Final. That was nuts.

Stat of the Day-3- Although I should go with 22, I can't do it justice. So I will give you 3, the amount of players in the singles and doubles draw at Wimbledon this year, that were also in Serena's first slam draw-AO 98. There are actually 2 people still playing that were disqualified, as they did not make this year's field. One was doubles player Lindsey Lee(now Lee-Waters), and singles player Patty Schnyder, who is playing Gstaad this week.

For the three, we have to go to the winners bracket, as the only one of the 4 not to have won that year was Serena. You probably guessed Venus, who won mixed with Justin Gimelstob. You probably guessed Hingis, who won in singles---and doubles. So who was the third? The then 15 yr old Mirjana Lucic, who won her first two times while playing with Hingis, then lost in the SF of their third. 18 years later, they still have never played another match together.

I should mention that her first two titles in doubles were in the first 2 WTA events she played. While it would have been great symmetry to say she won her first 2 WTA singles that way, she didn't. She won her first, and reached the final in her second. Who beat her? None other than Steffi Graf.

Sat Jul 09, 08:44:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

I didn 't hear CF call Kerber a "newcomer" because I stayed away from ESPN most of the day. He may have escaped you, but he's not getting a pass from me. That's just crazy.

Todd, do you remember where/when Serena read the Angelou poem? I recall seeing it and blogging about it but I can't recall the occasion. Oh wait--I think I just did. Was it when she accepted an ESPY a couple of years ago? I think it was. I remember thinking it was the lerfect poem for her to read.

Sat Jul 09, 08:55:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

You should! Maybe then you can tell me whether I'm crazy to be see a little of Azarenka in Yastremska's on-court mannerisms. ;)

My guesses were Venus (of course), Hingis and either Srebotnik or Peschke, since I thought maybe they were playing singles then, though they're only in the doubles now.

Yeah, but I guess I give CF the benefit of the doubt that he maybe just meant as "a slam contender in 2016." Maybe.

I wasn't as crazy about that, though, as when P-Mac called Potapova "Ostapenko" (I had to go back just to make sure I heard it right -- I had, unfortunately) and Yastremska "the other girl." I mean, at least try a little.

You may be right about Serena. I can't recall. But I guess the BBC must have had her do it again for their segment, as it was a produced video, or maybe it was a "shared" situation.

Sat Jul 09, 11:27:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Serena read Rise when accepting her SI Sportsperson of the Year award last year.

I tried to ignore all the things that you guys were saying about PMac bc whenever I think about him, my blood starts to boil.

For me, Timea Babos was a revelation today. (Sidenote: I *loved* how she and Shvedova were enjoying themselves on court in the moment.) I know her results have been better this year, but I was really impressed with her serve, movement, and groundstrokes. They said she hit a 94mph groundstroke today.

Seeing Babos play really made me appreciate Madison Keys more... She brushed Babos aside a few weeks ago pretty easily. I tend to think of Keys/Querrey/Isner as the same -- can't win when it counts... So that makes me not appreciate the people they beat. I hope that Babos (and Mladenovic) don't become like Shvedova...falling into the "talented journey woman" category. They both have too much skill. with players hitting their stride in their late 20s these days, I guess there's still hope for even Shvedova, who I always thought should have had better results.

Nice post Todd! Hope you have time to recharge next week!

Sun Jul 10, 12:41:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Thanks... me, too! :)

Sun Jul 10, 01:44:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Ah yes--it was the SI award! Thanks, Eric.

Babos was very impressive throughout the entire tournament. Like her friend and former (and perhaps future) doubles partner, Mladenovic, she does so much better if she's on a team and not playing singles. The singles talent, however, is very much there in both of them.

Sun Jul 10, 11:30:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

I don't get why JMac is the only one getting flayed for the whole "commentating on your own charge" thing... Didn't Lindsay Davenport and Martina Navratilova do the same thing?

Sun Jul 10, 02:39:00 PM EDT  

Post a Comment

<< Home