A Touching Moment For Barty, Suárez Navarro At Wimbledon

Carla Suárez Navarro (photo: Wimbledon video)

LONDON/WASHINGTON, June 29, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

Ashleigh Barty was given the honor of opening Centre Court on Day Two of the Wimbledon Championships against Spain’s Carla Suárez Navarro, something which the World No. 1 and women’s top seed called “a privilege.”

When Barty was asked during an on-court interview afterward to describe the feelings of playing the opening match on Centre Court, she said:

“Incredible. With all my heart, I wish Simmo (defending champion Simona Halep) were here to be able do it herself. She’s a champion and has the right to open this court. For me to be given the honor, when I hadn’t fully deserved it, I think I wanted to come out and pay respect to that. It’s an honor and a privilege and I was extremely humbled. I couldn’t be prouder to be out here.”

The affable Australian, who was playing her first match on grass since 2019, was pushed to three sets by the 68th-ranked Navarro, who was making her final Wimbledon appearance before she retires after recovering from Hodgkin lymphoma. Although Barty prevailed after an hour and 44 minutes, 6-1, 6-7 (1), 6-1, to advance in her fifth Wimbledon main draw, there was more to the story than just Barty.

Barty, who improved to 29-6, started the match with a pair of aces – she would hit a total of 13 – and a love hold. Although she would wobble while serving for the match at 5-4 in the second, ultimately losing the set in a tie-break 7-1 as Suárez Navarro showed touches of her former self, Barty recovered and came on strong in the final set, building up a 5-0 lead by beautifully constructing points. She hit 13 aces and 38 winners, converted five of five break-point opportunities and outpointed Suárez Navarro 93-66. Barty closed out the victory on her first match point at love.

Speaking of love, there was a lot of it spread throughout Centre Court. There were not many dry eyes in the house as Suárez Navarro walked off the court waving goodbye for the last time after making 11 appearances at The Championships, twice reaching the fourth round.

How happy was Barty to be able to get through the match with a win?

“It was incredible to share the court with [Carla], to be able share the experience with her after her incredible career,” Barty said. “She has a little bit longer to go, but to share this moment with her was really special. She’s a fighter, an incredible competitor and a lovely person. Genuinely, I can’t find one bad word to say about her. It was just incredible to be out here with her. I wish both of us could have won. She’s a genuine champion and will be sorely missed.”

During her post-match press conference, Suárez Navarro had a chance to reflect upon the emotion and the moment. “I think Wimbledon made me a really good gift. I cannot ask for anything else better than this day,” she said.

“One of my last matches here against Ash, No. 1 of the world, Centra Court, with the roof. Was amazing. I really enjoy everything I pass through. .I think now, today, I am the most happy player in the tournament, for sure.”

Later, as she met the international media, Barty paid tribute to Suárez Navarro, calling her, “a hell of a competitor, a hell of a fighter. It was a privilege to be able to share that moment, share that court with her. I hadn’t had the opportunity to play Carla. It was really special to be able to experience what she can bring from the other side of the court.”

Federer advances after Mannarino’s unfortunate slip

Roger Federer showed great vulnerability during his first-round match against No. 41 Adrian Mannarino of France, whom he had never lost to in six previous meetings. After playing for two hours and 44 minutes on Centre Court with the roof closed, the 39-year-old Swiss superstar survived to play another day. But it took a misfortunately slip by his opponent, the newly-33-year-old Mannarino, to assure him of his advancement and prevent him from losing in the first round of Wimbledon for the first time since 2002.

The injury occurrence came with Federer serving, ahead 4-2 (15-0) as Mannarino slipped on the grass behind the baseline. The Frenchman was wincing in pain as he walked back to his bench and received medical treatment on the inside of his right knee.

Soon, Mannarino retired at the start of the fifth set, unable to put any weight on his injured right leg.

The Federer-Mannarino match was level at two sets each after Federer won the opening set 6-4 after capturing 22 of 26 service points, then struggled badly in losing a second-set tie break 7-3. Mannarino rallied to win the third set 6-3 before Federer got back on track to take the fourth set 6-2. Federer had not lost in the first round of a Grand Slam since Wimbledon in 2002.

Obviously, what happened wasn’t the way Federer wanted to win, playing his first match back at Wimbledon after losing the 2019 gentlemen’s final to Novak Djokovic.

“It’s awful. It shows one shot can change the outcome of a match, a season, a career. I wish [Adrian] all the best and I hope he recovers quickly so we can see him back on the court. Look, he could have won the match at the end. Obviously, he was the better player. So, I definitely got a bit lucky. But who cares about that?” Federer said.

“I’m obviously happy I can get another chance for another match here. I worked very hard. Look, at the end, I enjoyed myself out here today. It was great fun until the end, obviously.”

Serena Williams out of Wimbledon after leg injury

Twenty-three-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, 39, retired in tears just six-and-a-half games into her first-round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus due to a right leg injury.

The No. 6 seed from the United States began her match on Centre Court with her right thigh visibly strapped with tape. Williams was up a break in the first set 3-1, serving at 15-all, when she slipped at the back of the court. She requested a physio after losing her serve and received an off-court medical time out. When she returned, her thigh tape was reinforced.

After resuming play, Sasnovich held her serve to tie the score at 3-all. However, a couple of points later, Williams lost her footing, again, near the baseline and immediately decided to retire. The match ended just 34 minutes after it started.

Until Tuesday, Williams had never lost a first-round match at Wimbledon, going 19-0. This marked just the second time she had retired from a match in a major.

In addressing the crowd, who already had given Williams a large ovation as she left Centre Court visibly shaken, Sasnovich said: “Of course, I’m so sad for Serena. She’s a great champion. It happens sometimes in tennis, but all the best for her and for her recovery.”

Later Tuesday evening, after 10 p.m. London time, Williams posted a statement on her Instagram:


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A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams)

Zverev one round closer to second week

Alexander Zverev has only appeared in the second week of Wimbledon once – and two years ago he bowed in the opening round. So, it should come as great relief to him that he made a strong start in his sixth Championships appearance with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 first-round victory over 124th-ranked qualifier Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands in an hour and a half on No. 1 Court with the roof closed.

With 20 services coupled with 35 winners and 41 unreturned serves, the cleanness of Zverev’s hitting was evident. The German star converted seven of 16 break points and outpointed Griekspoor 88-67.

During his on-court interview Zverev said: “It is great to see everything slowly going back to normal. The moment I walked out onto this court made me very happy, to see all the people here. I know a lot of people around the world have been struggling for the past 18 months. I think the most important thing is that this tournament really shows – and I hope it shows over the next two weeks – is that we can go back to normal. We can, hopefully, live a great life.

“I felt comfortable on the court. It is great we have a roof on Court One now.Wimbledon is such a historic tournament, and they keep on improving, trying to make it better for the players and the public, and that is why everyone loves this tournament.”

Venus Williams survives test of Father Time

It’s easy to see why 41-year-old Venus Williams is a living legend. After all, only Martina Navratilova, her sister Serena and Chris Evert have more Wimbledon victories than she does. On Tuesday afternoon, Williams won her 90th Wimbledon singles match with a hard-fought 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Romania’s 160th-ranked Mihaela Buzarnescu that lasted two hours and 37 minutes on No. 2 Court.

The five-time Wimbledon champion, ranked 111th, hit 10 aces and 33 winners overall in advancing to the second round. It put to rest reminders of Williams’ last first-round Wimbledon match, two years ago, when then-15-year-old Coco Gauff beat her. This time, Williams exuded a sense of confidence in herself and his victory ended a six-match losing streak that dates back to February at the Australian Open.

“I’m good at what I do,” Williams said during her post-match press conference. “You can’t win them all. Life is about how you handle challenges. Each point is a challenge on the court. Nobody gives you anything. So, I like to think I handle my challenges well.”

Next, Williams will play No. 21 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, who easily beat Rebecca Peterson of Sweden, 6-2, 6-1, in 61 minutes.

Around the All England Club

After an Opening Day of persistent rain that delayed the start of play on Monday for nearly five hours on the outer courts that don’t have roofs, the rain returned on Tuesday. It held up play for three-and-a-half hours, further delaying the completion of the first round, which will carry over to a third day on Wednesday. Once again, there were outright cancellation of matches – 22 by 7 p.m. London time – and tournament organizers were trying to make sure that the matches which were suspended by darkness on Monday were completed Tuesday.

Among the winners:

• French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova from the Czech Republic making her Wimbledon singles main-draw debut, beat No. 93 Clara Tauson of Denmark, 6-3, 6-2, in an hour and 10 minutes, thanks to hitting 20 winners and winning 73 percent of her first-serve points. The No. 14 seed Krejcikova also converted three of her five break-point opportunities against the Danish teenager and outpointed Tauson 64-46 to advance against Andrea Petkovic of Germany, who beat Italy’s Jasmine Paolini, 6-4, 6-3.

• Overall, it was a good day for women’s seeds as No. 8 Karolina Pliskova, No. 13 Elise Mertens, No. 15 Maria Sakkari, No. 20 Coco Gauff, No. 22 Jessica Pegula and No. 25 Angelique Kerber all advanced to the second round in straight sets. However, there were a couple of upsets: Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine upset No. 17 seed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands, 6-3, 6-4, in the Dutchwoman’s final Wimbledon, and No. 28 seed Alison Riske of the United States fell to Tereza Martincova of the Czech Republic, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1.

• Among the men’s seeds advancing to the second round: No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, who needed four sets to beat Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany, 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (3); No. 9 Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, who easily beat Benoit Paire of France, 6-3, 6-4, 6-0; No. 10 Denis Shapovalov of Canada, who went the distance to beat Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4; No. 14 Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, who outlasted Lorenzo Musetti of Italy, 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-1; and No. 22 Dan Evans of Great Britain, who defeated Feliciano Lopez of Spain, 7-6 (4), 6-2, 7-5.

• Among the upsets, No. 15 seed Alex de Minaur of Australia, who won the Viking International at Eastbourne on Saturday, fell to No. 50 Sebastian Korda of the United States, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5).

• In a match that began Monday and was completed Tuesday between qualifiers Oscar Otte of Germany and Arthur Rinderknech of France, it took a fifth-set tie break to declare Otte the winner. The 151st-ranked Otte beat No. 109 Rinderknech, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 13-12 (2), in three hours and 57 minutes.

Tuesday’s Wimbledon results 

Wednesday’s Wimbledon order of play

By the numbers

Venus Williams garnered her 90th career victory at Wimbledon on Tuesday with her victory over Mihaela Buzarnescu. The only women with more victories than Venus are: Martina Navratilova (120), Serena Williams (98) and Chris Evert (96).

• French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova is currently on a 13-match winning streak – longest of her career – after having won consecutive tournaments at Strasbourg and Paris.

“Quotable …”

Carla Suárez Navarro on her final Wimbledon appearance, against World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, in which she received a standing ovation: “At the end, it was really nice. I really appreciate it. The crowd was amazing. I mean, it was fantastic. I’m in love with this tournament, this court and this crowd.”

Angelique Kerber, who won the 2018 Wimbledon ladies’ singles title, on her return to London with a 6-4, 6-3 first-round win over Nina Stojanovic of Serbia, just three days after winning the Bad Homburg Open in central Germany: “It’s so special to see you guys again here. This is so special for us, really. To come back here in this magic place is always so great. I have so many great memories. We’ve gotten through a really hard time the last few months. To play in front of you guys means a lot to us players. Coming back here and enjoying the sport means a lot.”

Alexander Zverev, asked during his on-court post-match interview whether he will find the time to watch the England-Germany Euro Cup soccer match, said: “I’m going to give an answer where I’m going to get booed off the court and I’ll never play here again. I hope the match goes to penalties …”