Winning the French Open can have an almost magical effect on a player. It made Francesca Schiavone the significant sports persona she so deserved to be. It gave Maria Sharapova a Career Slam. It turned Li Na into an international superstar. It even saved Svetlana Kuznetsova from being given that offensive label, "one-Slam wonder."
But for Ana Ivanovic, winning the French Open seemed to be the beginning of the end. After she lifted the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen in 2008, she went into one of the biggest slumps in recent WTA history. So "slumpy" was the Serb that she sent a Christmas card to press and tennis personnel whose greeting was simply "Oops."
Last year, Jelena Jankovic began her steady climb back into the upper echelon of professional tennis. It was no surprise, then, that her countrywoman began the same climb. Earlier this year, Ivanovic won in Auckland and Monterrey. Today, she won her first grass title ever (and a premier one, at that), in Birmingham. Ivanovic defeated Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-3, 6-2 in the final. Ivanovic did not drop a set throughout her week in Birmingham.
A few words about Zahlavova Strycova are warranted. The Czech player is better known for her considerable doubles skills; indeed, this was the first premier singles final in which she had ever played. Like so many other runners-up, the unseeded Zahlavova Strycova did a lot of heavy lifting during the week, only to find herself stopped in the final by a formidable opponent. It should be noted, however, that Zahlavova Strycova's accomplishments in Birmingham included the defeat of three seeded players--Lucie Safarova, Kirsten Flipkens and Casey Dellacqua.
3rd seeds Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears won the doubles title, defeating 2nd seeds Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua 7-6, 6-1 in the final. This is the first title that Kops-Jones and Spears have won in 2014. The team now has five premier-level titles.