And just like that, another Wimbledon has passed, bringing, as it always does, not only spectacular tennis, but bizarre incidents, drama and amusement, that add flavour to what is to many, the greatest tennis tournament.
The winners of the singles tournaments were the two current powerhouses of tennis: Djokovic retaining the men’s title (the first time this has been done since Federer won five in a row from 2003-2007) to sit alongside his Australian Open triumph. Serena, even more impressively, completed a non-calendar year Grand Slam for the second time in her career, which can be upgraded to a full grand slam with victory at the US Open in September. Even more impressively, this one was completed at 33 years of age and achieved in the hottest temperatures in the Wimbledon history. What’s more, she doesn’t look for one second like slowing down; only one grand slam title behind Steffi Graf’s record of 22 in the open era, which now, if it didn’t before, she seems certain to surpass.
An honourable mention must go to arguably the star of the tournament, Roger Federer, who, at the same age as Serena Williams, produced some of the most skilful, attacking tennis seen in the tournament, and his match against Murray will surely be remembered as one of the most perfect displays of tennis ever seen at a Grand Slam. Murray didn’t put a foot wrong, yet he was still comprehensively outplayed by the Swiss master, who was apparently not too distracted by the now mandatory all-white dress code. However, his ultimate defeat at the hands of Djokovic is yet one more sign of his slowly bowing out, and with Nadal’s loss of form, of an era of Djokovic domination.
Possibly the most surprising thing about Nadal’s early Wimbledon exit, was that it wasn’t in fact that surprising, or without precedent: he has lost to a player outside the top 100 in each of the last four Wimbledon tournaments. He has failed to reach the semi-finals of a tournament since his French Open victory last year. Possibly this decline can be halted, but this Wimbledon has proved that this isn’t a blip, it’s a full blown slump. His vanquisher, Dustin Brown, and his brand of serve and volley tennis, were matched in extravagance only by his personality: he hasn’t cut his hair in 19 years, and used to travel round the tennis circuit in a camper van. His victory seemingly came from nowhere: he had never beaten a seed, while Nadal had never, in 21 meetings, lost to a qualifier.
While miserable for Nadal, this tournament was one of moderate success for the British, even if hopes of a second Wimbledon for Andy Murray were cruelly dashed in the semi-final. Two British men reached the third round of Wimbledon for the first time since 2002, and as a result, Jamie Ward broke into the top 100 for the first time, climbing 22 places to 89th. Jamie Murray reached the men’s doubles final, and moved up to 20th in the doubles rankings. Heather Watson’s sublime performances, coming within two points of victory against Serena Williams, earned her 51st place in the singles rankings.
It wasn’t just the tennis that was a source of spectacle. From Hamilton not allowed in to watch the final, after not realising there was a dress code, to David Beckham’s one-handed catch, the audience provided its own entertainment, but if that wasn’t enough then Nick Kyrgios, the all-round entertainer did his best to emulate if not even surpass John McEnroe in outlandish court behaviour; everything from arguing with the Umpire over how long it was taking for him to change his socks, to hugging a ball-boy. In between the erratic behaviour and tantrums however, were moments of brilliance that suggest 20 year old Kyrgios merits his place on the grand stage and can be, if he can control his temperament, a future star.
The breakthrough star of the tournament however, was most definitely Garbine Muguruza. The 21 year old 20th seed came of age, defeating Caroline Wozniaki and Agnieszka Radwanska en route to the final (although in the case of the later she was aided on the second to last point by a incorrect cry of out from Radwanska’s own coaching team, which the unfortunate player decided to challenge). Perhaps Serena Williams will have stern competition in the foreseeable future from this exciting young player, with her own brand of aggressive, expansive tennis, and an exemplary attitude. And grass is her least favourite surface. Grand Slams cannot be far away.
One cannot imagine grand slams being as far away though, as they were between Martina Hingis Wimbledon titles, her women’s and mixed doubles’ titles coming 17 years after her last Wimbledon title, the women’s doubles in 1998. Ever year at Wimbledon there is fantastic tennis, but the real excitement of the tournament is moments such as these: when the seemingly impossible is accomplished, and greater and varied records are broken and made. Every tournament, despite a familiar pattern of winners, is made unique by its singular occurrences, bringing life to the oldest tennis tournament in the world.