You better believe it!— Jimmie48 Photography (@JJlovesTennis) July 15, 2023
Marketa Vondrousova is a Grand Slam champion! pic.twitter.com/ew3OAn3v3r
Here are my top 10 Wimbledon occurrences, in ascending order:
10. Who'll Stop the Rain?: It rained and rained, and then it rained some more, and all kinds of matches got backed up. Then there was the wind, which caused the roof to be closed for the women's final. Every tournament has a bit of rain, but this was excessive.
9. Keep Off the Grass: Three players--Venus Williams, Karolina Muchova (of course) and Alizé Cornet--slipped and fell on the grass. Williams hurt her knee, Muchova injured her hip, an Cornet twisted her knee. Both Paula Badosa (who has a history of back problems) and Beatriz Haddad Maia sustained back injuries. Barbora Krejcikova sustained an ankle injury, and Veronika Kudermetova sustained a hip injury. That's a lot of injury, and a lot of suffering for some of the best players on the tour.
8. But What a Streak It Was: Alina Korneeva won the junior Australian Open and the junior French Open. But she was taken down in the Wimbledon semifinals by Nikola Bartunova, who is Czech, and we all know what can happen when a Czech player shows up across the net. But a 16-match win streak in consecutive majors is nevertheless very impressive, especially for a 16-year-old.
7. I'm Still (barely) Standing: Lesia Tsurenko and Ana Bogdan treated the crowd to a show that probably was anything but a treat for them. Their third round third set tiebreak consisted of 38 points. Both women were constantly bending over and both looked to be in some anguish after slogging through for 3 hours and 40 minutes. Tsurenko won the tiebreak (20-18) and the match, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6.
6. Veteran Glory: It was a long time coming, but 30-year-old Lyudmyla Kichenok, with her partner, Mate Pavic, won the mixed doubles title, defeating Xu Yifan and Joran Vliegen in the final. This is Kichenok's first major title.
5. Re-Inventing the Wheel: Diede de Groot, aka Diede the Great, won her fifth Wimbledon singles title this past week, which gives her 19 major singles title. And playing with Jiske Griffioen, whom she defeated in the singles final, she won her third Wimbledon doubles title, and her 17th major doubles final. de Groot, who is the protegé of the great Esther Vergeer, is already a legend in her own right.
Also notable is Griffioen's return to the elite ranks of wheelchair tennis. She retired from the sport in 2017, but came back in 2019, and has had to work her way back to the top of the game. This Wimbledon was a showcase for the work that she has done.
4. Farewell Way Too Soon: I've watched Anett Kontaveit for a long time, and have always been impressed by her tennis. But Kontaveit is one of the unlucky ones whose body just wouldn't cooperate with her skills and desires. Sadly, Kontaveit has had to retire from professional tennis because of lumbar disc degeneration. The affable Estonian, who is only 27, reached her highest rank of number 2 in the world only last year. She won six singles titles, and also played for the Estonian Fed Cup team. It looked like things were finally picking up for her, but instead, we got a very sad ending: She played her final match at Wimbledon.
This was also the final Wimbledon for Barbora Strycova, who returned to the tour briefly after having a baby, and it was the final doubles match (she had already retired from singles) for Kirsten Flipkens.
3. Reunited--and It Feels Awesome: Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova, who won the Wimbledon doubles title in 2019, both took lengthy breaks from the tour. Toward the end of the 2021 season, Hsieh announced that she was taking an extended break so that she could deal with an injury. Earlier in the season, Strycova announced that she was retiring from the sport, but left the door open for one final Wimbledon appearance in 2022. She also announced that she was going to have a baby.
Strycova did not return to Wimbledon in 2022, but she returned this year, with her partner, Hsieh. She made it clear that this would be her final Wimbledon, and she and Hsieh (each of whom is 37 years old) made it count, winning the title by defeating 3rd seeds Storm Hunter and Elise Mertens in the final. Hsieh holds four Wimbledon doubles titles (with four different partners) and two French Open doubles titles.
2. A Comeback for the Ages: Elina Svitolina, who at one time was in the top five, took a year and half off so that she could deal with some back pain, work on behalf of the Ukrainian cause---and have a baby. She returned in April of this year and played in Charleston. Shortly after, she won her 17th WTA title in Strasbourg. But few could have predicted what she had in store for her return to Wimbledon. Svitolina--with a new serve and new aggression--began her campaign by defeating five-time champion Venus Williams, and then she took out Elise Mertens, Sofia Kenin, Victoria Azarenka, and top seed and world number 1 Iga Swiatek. She was finally stopped, in the semifinals, by eventual champion Marketa Vondrousova, but she had one of the most dramatic and emotional comeback runs we've seen in a while.
1. No Rain, No Flowers/No Seed, No Worries: One of the tattoos on Marketa Vondrousova's arm reads no rain no flowers. Vondrousova should know about that. Twice, since she made her 2019 run to the French Open final, she has had to have wrist surgery. Last year, the 2020 Olympic silver medalist sat in the Wimbledon stands with a big cast on her arm.
This year, she got the flowers. Vondrousova served, hit, sliced, and lobbed her way through the draw, taking out several players of note, inlcuding 12th seed Veronika Kudermetova, the especially dangerous Donna Vekic and Marie Bouzkova, 4th seed Jessica Pegula, and an impressively resurgent Elina Svitolina. The Czech player--who had the most break point conversions of any WTA player at the tournament--then handled a nervous Ons Jabeur with what appeared to be relative ease, taking away Jabeur's usual creative shot advantage. And before you could say "lefty Czechs are coming for you again," Marketa Vondrousova was the 2023 Wimbledon champion.
The generously inked Czech with the Sphinx cat named Frankie (who, according to Vondrousova, will soon be getting some celebratory fish) had won only three grass court matches in her career before she entered the 2023 Wimbledon event. She was ranked number 42 in the world--the lowest ranked woman ever to win in London--and she is the first unseeded woman in history to win the tournament. The new champion summed it all up better than I ever could: "Tennis is crazy."