A casual observer who had just turned on the television could never have guessed that Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova were playing doubles with the 2010 Wimbledon championship at stake. They were having so much fun, smiling so much, it looked more like two friends were just out to have a good time on a Sunday evening.
Those two friends defeated Elena Vesnina and Vera Zvonareva 7-6, 6-2 to become the first unseeded team to win Wimbledon since 1977, when Helen Gourlay Cawley and JoAnne Russell won the trophy. Both of the teams in today's final were unseeded, in fact, and both played very impressively throughout the tournament. To get to the final, the champions defeated Alberta Brianti & Alexandra Dulgheru, 14th seeds Monica Niculescu & Shahar Peer, 3rd seeds Nadia Petrova & Sam Stosur, 6th seeds Kveta Peschke & Katarina Srebotnik, and 5th seeds Liezel Huber & Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
The Russian team also pulled some big upsets, including the defeat of top seeds Serena and Venus Williams, in a match that featured a consistently stunning performance from Vesnina. Today, however, was not the team's brightest day. Zvonareva lost the singles championship to Serena Williams, and the mood on the Russian side of the net was a decided contrast to the good cheer emanating from the other side.
The first set was so close that it went to a tiebreak, which King and Shvedova won 8-6 after saving a set point. Zvonareva was never quite the same after that, and--set up by the steady baseline play of King, Shvedova proceeded to become a one-woman attack force, repeatedly slamming unreturnable volleys from the net. She didn't look too shabby in other parts of the court, either, serving forcefully, and hitting winners down the line. She and King got better as the match wore on, and won the second set 6-2, which gave them the match.
The champions' interview was as entertaining as their performance on the court. Apparently, Shvedova and King invited practically everyone they met recently--at the French Open, in an English pub, etc.--to come to Wimbledon. They came, too, and were part of a huge cheering section for the two women. I was quite disappointed that neither the champions nor the runners-up were invited to speak at the trophy ceremony, and cannot imagine why such a slight would be permitted to occur.
No matter whom you wanted to win the doubles title, it was almost impossible to be anything but excited for King and Shvedova, whose expert play and on-court charm made this a special championship.