Serena Williams: 24 Will Have To Wait Once Again

Serena Williams (photo: Wimbledon video)

LONDON/WASHINGTON, June 30, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

Serena Williams, one of the greatest champions in any sport, would just as soon forget this Wimbledon Championships fortnight. That’s because this one lasted a mere six-and-a-half games – 34 minutes – before the No. 6 seed retired with a leg injury she suffered Tuesday evening.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams, who has been chasing Margaret Court’s record of 24 major singles titles since returning to the WTA tour in 2018 after giving birth to her daughter, Olympia, began her first-round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus on Centre Court, the scene of her many triumphs over the years, including seven Wimbledon singles titles as well as six women’s doubles titles and a mixed doubles crown.

The 39-year-old’s right thigh was heavily bandaged similar to what it was at the French Open earlier this month. After taking a 3-1 lead, Williams promptly slipped on the grass court and soon after, she fell after injuring her right hamstring while trying to shift her direction during a rally at the baseline.

Very visibly, Williams cried out in pain after she fell forward. She knew right away that she could not continue the match. There was a sense of both surprise and sadness permeating the 7,000 spectators who were witness on a night the roof was closed following rain that fell earlier in the day.

“Oh, no, no, no, no,” exclaimed ESPN broadcaster Cliff Drysdale, who called the Williams match for a mostly-North American audience. He was in a state of shock. “Oh, my goodness. … No.”

Drysdale’s broadcast partner, Hall of Famer Chris Evert, was equally distraught. “I don’t have any words to express how I’m feeling,” she said in the aftermath. “It’s just horrible. It’s just a horrible way to end. [Serena] was playing so well. She was looking forward to this tournament, her favorite tournament. Going after a record.”

Chair umpire Marija Cicak, who is one of the best when it comes to showing care and empathy, came down to comfort Williams and walked with her to the net where the 100th-ranked Sasnovich, who was playing a good match, waited to shake hands. It all happened so suddenly.

This would be Serena’s earliest exit in her 20 years of competing at the All England Club as she limped off Centre Court after waving to the crowd.

Later, Williams wrote in a post on her Instagram: “I was heartbroken to have to withdraw today after injuring my right leg. Feeling the extraordinary warmth and support of the crowd today when I walked on – and off – the court meant the world to me.”


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Nick Kyrgios: To be continued

One of the fallouts from the lengthy rain delay on Day Two of The Championships on Tuesday was that the first-round match between Nick Kyrgios of Australia and France’s Ugo Humbert was moved from No. 12 Court inside to No. 1 Court as a dessert course following the early conclusion of No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev‘s win over Jan-Lennard Struff.

After two hours and 44 minutes, the Krygios-Humbert thriller between these two talented players was suspended at two sets apiece and 3-all in the fifth set five minutes before 11 p.m. London time because of a Wimbledon Village curfew. It will be resumed on No. 1 Court Wednesday following the first regularly-scheduled match between women’s No. 3 seed Elina Svitolina and Alison Van Uytvanck.

Kyrgios won the first (6-4) and fourth (6-1) sets while Humbert prevailed in the second (6-4) and third (6-3) sets in a highly entertaining affair, which so far has seen the mercurial Aussie slam 20 aces and hit 34 winners. Humbert has contributed nine aces and 38 winners.

Wimbledon represents Kyrgios’ first tournament venture outside of Australia in 18 months.

Sebastian Korda: In words and pictures

Tuesday’s Wimbledon results

Wednesday’s order of play

“Quotable …”

After American Frances Tiafoe upset No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas on No. 1 Court in Monday’s first round, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3, he had plenty to say at his post-match press conference. Among the highlights:

“At the end of the day, when I’m done with the game, I want people to say: ‘It was great entertainment to watch Frances Tiafoe. He’s a great guy first and a tennis player second.'”

“Pressure? I feel like I already overcame pressure, man. I played on No. 1 Court today. If you told me when I was 10 years old, I’d be playing on No. 1 Court, beat No. 4 in the world? And I’ve been able to play Roger, Rafa, Novak in big stadiums. I mean, those are the moments you appreciate. I’ve come such a long way.”

“Pressure was turning pro, being able to provide for my family; I’m able to do that. I think perspective is everything.. But there’s a long way I want to go. I’ve handled my real pressures. Everything else is kind of between the lines.”

By the numbers

Roger Federer is seeded at Wimbledon for the 20th time this year. That’s more times than any Gentlemen’s singles player in Wimbledon history.

Ugo Humbert‘s only victory in a five-set match came at Wimbledon in 2019, where he recovered from 0-2 down to defeat Gaël Monfils in the first round (who retired due to a left ankle injury).

• With rain wreaking havoc on the first two days of this year’s Wimbledon fortnight, the first two rounds of men’s doubles will be reduced from best-of-5 to best-of-3 in an effort to help with scheduling.

Speaking of scheduling, there are 80 matches scheduled on the Wednesday order of play – 50 first round (27 gentlemen’s and 23 ladies’) and 30 second round (14 gentlemen’s and 16 ladies’).

What they’re writing

The Guardian

The Washington Post