Oh, how glorious it was to see crowds of tennis enthusiasts flock to Wimbledon once more! How wonderful to experience the pomp and ceremony of the world's most prestigious tennis event!
This year's Wimbledon fortnight comprises of crystalline moments that made the event more special because it heralded a return to some sense of normal after a long year of forced abstention from momentous, shared events.
Even the Duchess of Cambridge's return from quarantine isolation served to underscore how dreadful this pandemic has been (and continues to be). As does the memory of last years cancelled Championship; the first cancellation since the end of the Second World War.
But Wimbledon was back this year and, like snapshots tucked away in a treasured family album, we need to preserve the record of these triumphs, on the courts and off, for posterity.
Superprof does their part by detailing the list of female Wimbledon 2021 winners.
At first glance, it seems that Ashleigh Barty would be an unlikely tennis champion. Nothing, from her diminutive frame - she stands five feet, five inches tall to her lackadaisical commitment to tennis in her junior playing years signalled that she was a champion in the making.
Growing up in a suburb of Ipswich, Queensland, with her two older sisters, Ashleigh was initially torn between playing netball and pursuing a tennis career. She ultimately settled on the latter because, to her, netball was a 'girl's game'. Thus, she put herself to work in earnest, challenging her coach to push her ever harder.
After a series of early successes in tennis, including winning the Girls' Singles title at Wimbledon in 2011 when she was just 15 years old, she suddenly dropped out of tennis to embrace cricket - a sport she had never trained for or played, at least not competitively.
And then, she came back to tennis. She won her first-ever Women's title in 2017; that was her first taste of ranking in the Top 100. In fact, she ended the season at #17, despite never having been in the Top 100 rankings.
Her Juniors coach attributes Ashleigh's skill and success in tennis to an unusual capacity for hand-eye coordination as well as a high degree of focus. Both of those qualities were on show at Centre Court, on July 10, when Ms Barty eclipsed her Czech opponent, Karolina Pliskova, 6-3 6-7 6-3.
At 6 ft. 2 in., Ms Pliskova towers over her final-round opponent. This time, though, her height gave her no advantage. Neither did her unambiguous approach to tennis.
Karolina and her twin sister, Kristyna, took an early and serious approach to tennis. Karolina's potential as a tennis player was obvious just about from the beginning. Soon, she was competing in tennis tournaments around the world.
She won her first Junior title at the 2010 Australian Open, just before her 18th birthday. She then went on to play her first Grand Slam in 2012, at the French Open. She lost in the first round but rebounded the next year, winning her Women's Tennis Association title.
Whereas Ms Barty needed to break away from tennis to rediscover her passion for the game, Ms Pliskova never once thought of putting her racket down. Her aggressive playing style serves her well, both at the net and in the serve.
Her runner-up status has cemented her tennis legacy but Ms Pliskova is hardly resting on her laurels. We can look forward to more from this dynamic player; it's not likely she'll settle for second place for long.
And how did the men fare at Wimbledon this year?
Some might think that Belgian Elise Mertens, paired with Su-Wei Hsieh were at a disadvantage, playing opposite of a Russian Doubles pair whose playing style and technique were so similar. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Let's look at their basic statistics:
- Veronika Kudermetova: Russia, 24 yrs old, 5 ft 9 in, plays right-handed; matches won - 71
- Elena Vesnina: Russia, 34 yrs old, 5 ft 9 in, plays right-handed; matches won - 265
- Elise Mertens: Belgium, 25 yrs old, 5 ft 10 in, plays right-handed; matches won - 174
- Su-Wei Hsieh: Taiwan, 35 yrs old, 5 ft 7 in, plays right-handed; matches won - 148
You would have to be really nit-picky to point out that Mertens-Hsieh have a one-year age disadvantage or that this year's Ladies' Doubles runners-up have won more matches than the winning pair.
So well-matched are these four players that, at times, the audience was in doubt as to which pair would walk away with the title. The volleys seemed to go on forever and the returns were lightning-swift. A bit of dramatic net-play and call-and-answer grunting provoked awed gasping from the crowds, and Ms Hsieh's soft touch led to more than one frantic to-the-net scramble and unreturned ball.
Although Kudernetova-Vesnina took the first set, Mertens-Hsieh proved to be an unbeatable team, claiming the win with a final tally of 3-6 7-5 9-7.
Ladies' Wheelchair Singles
Wimbledon is the crème de la crème of tennis; the event every tennis player aspires to... at least compete in, if not win. The All-England Lawn and Tennis Club's iconic grass courts are the last of their kind in Grand Slam tennis; just playing on them gives tennis players serious bragging rights.
Unfortunately, those very courts make it much harder for wheelchair tennis players to get their game on.
Still, on The Championship's last day, Court 1 spectators saw how it was done when Dutch athlete Diede de Groot faced off against Kgothatso Montjane, from South Africa.
At first, things looked like they would be rather tame but it took no time at all for the competitors to get fierce in their serves, returns and volleys. Ms de Groot soon swatted that illusion away with her wicked backhand. She appeared intently focused throughout the match while Ms Montjane, at times, seemed distressed.
By no means did she play poorly, though. Pitting her left-handed play against every ball that came her way, Ms Montjane landed a couple of points in each set and gave as good as she got. Still, Ms de Groot claimed the win with a 6-2 6-2 final score.
The de Groot - Montjane face-off was just one of this year's Championship high points; the wheelchair Doubles' contests were even more enthralling.
Ladies' Wheelchair Doubles
If it appeared that Ms Montjane was struggling in the Singles' match, she gave no such indication when paired up with UK's Lucy Shuker. Together, they put forth a coordinated effort to make their mark on this year's Championship. Unfortunately, they were unable to make a single point in their first set.
It might have been because their opponents, Jordanne Whiley and Yui Kamiji, have long experience competing together in Doubles tennis. As far back as 2014, they won not only the Calendar Slam that year but also the Wheelchair Tennis Masters doubles, a match governed by the International Tennis Federation.
But then again, it's not like Lucy Shuker and Kgothatso Montjane have never played together. They teamed up for the 2019 Australian Open, where they were handed a loss by Buis-Ellerbrook.
It might have felt odd for Ms Shuker to confront Jordanne Whiley across the net. These two athletes carved out their place in tennis history in 2012 by pairing up to take Bronze in the London Paralympics tennis doubles' event that year.
When newscasters and pundits discuss Wimbledon's highlights, the wheelchair contests are generally overlooked. That's rather a pity, considering the AELTC's drive toward inclusion, don't you think?
Please feel free to let us know what you think about that in the comments section. You can also leave your praise for Whiley-Kamiji, who claimed the win with 6-0 7-6.
On The Championship's last day, while the Gentlemen's Singles played out on Centre Court, Spanish Junior player Ane Mintegi del Olmo confronted German Junior Nastasja Schunk for the win: 2-6 6-4 6-1.
It looked, at first, like Ms Schunk would dominate the match because she came out strong with her particularly aggressive backhand. However, Ms Mintegi del Olmo appears to be a more strategic player. It was almost like she was gauging her opponent's weaknesses, which she proceeded to exploit to the fullest in the last two sets.
Oddly enough, despite her Wimbledon win, Ms Mintegi del Olmo's standing in the Singles' rankings slipped slightly, from a career high of 698 in May of this year to 715. Still, she will qualify for Ladies' tournaments later this year; that will free her up to play more Opens and tournaments. Surely, with all of the potential she has, she will rocket up the ratings.
The same goes for Ms Schunk, who achieved her career-high rating through this Championship.
Are you wondering what prizes Wimbledon has in store for these and other future tennis greats?
Last year, at the French Open, Diana Shnaider teamed up with fellow Russian junior tennis player Maria Bondarenko to confront Italian juniors Doubles team Alvisi-Pigato. Things didn't go so well. This year, paired with Belarusian Kristina Dmitruk, her powerful double-handed stroke consistently hit its mark.
On the other side of the net, Belgian Sofia Costoulas and Finn Laura Hieraranta - who also favours two-handed backhand strokes, did their best against their far-more-experienced opponents.
We gotta give them props for their efforts. Some of their volleys were poetry in motion but, in the end, they lost their match 6-1 6-2.
There's no doubt that both Sofia and Laura have long, bright careers in tennis ahead of them. After all, Sofia is just 16 and Laura's (17 years old) career Junior ranking high is 32. She will move on to Women's tennis next year; we can't wait to see her next Wimbledon showing!
Now, discover more Wimbledon 2021 events summaries...
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