By Bill Simons
THE LOUDEST VOICES EVER HEARD IN THE WIMBLEDON PRESS ROOM: French writers yelling at the top of their lungs for their World Cup team. (And whoever had the audacity to say journalists should be impartial and not root for athletes?)
JUST SAY BOUCHARD: A star in the making, Eugenie Bouchard is a winner. She was a Wimbledon junior singles and doubles champion, and the WTA’s 2013 Newcomer of the Year. She’s the only woman to reach two Grand Slam semifinals this year, and she has a bundle of gutsy wins over top 20 players. Her play at Wimbledon has drawn plenty of praise on BBC from none other than Martina Navratilova. The all-time great said the Canadian has her priorities straight, and is “blinkered”—playing with a great sense of urgency, and for all the right reasons.
Bouchard has great presence on court, and it’s hard to tell which is better, her forehand or backhand. She hits with power close to the lines, and is a fighter who knows how to lift her game. Her good looks only mean that she’ll be able to add another zero to the total on her endorsement checks. Aside from all of that, the Canadian doesn’t have much going for her. Many are asking if she will win a Slam soon—maybe this one.
LOVE COUPLE DREAM RESULT STILL POSSIBLE: Maybe it happens just every 40 years. In 1974, Jimmy Connors and fiancee Chris Evert both won Wimbledon. This year, a romantic result here—Maria Sharapova and boyfriend Grigor Dimitrov both winning—is still a longshot possibility.
NIGHTMARE STAT AND ALL IN GOOD FUN SNARKY COMMENTARIES: After John Isner‘s loss, word spread through the American sector of the press room that this is the first year since 1911 that there are no American men or women in the quarterfinals.
The dreary stat drew many a snarky remark from a cadre of Americans. “Translation, we suck,” said one observer.
“Still, we’re proud,” countered another.
One voice put forth a sassy question: “Is it just that we have a bunch of fat-ass kids?”
Another asked something different: “So, what were your stories in 1911?”
“Oh, that year I had to turn to golf,” came the answer.
SERENA AFTER THE FALL: Wimbledon is still wondering what’s up with Serena Williams, after her unexpected defeat. Her shock loss, to Alize Cornet, meant that for the third Slam in a row, she would not be reaching the second week. Her serve, once a feared weapon of mass destruction, now couldn’t be found, if you get our Iraqi reference.
One wondered where was the imposing Serena, the dominating fury. Instead, she seemed tentative, waiting for errors, often off-balance and frequently in chase mode.
Now, say the critics, she better chase down the US Open title. Otherwise, she won’t have a single major title for the whole year, and the WTA might again have a Slamless No. 1. (Well, unless you are a stickler for details and count the 17 she’s collected prior to this season.) Of course, some bigger questions hover. Is a coaching change on the horizon, has age had its impact, and is Serena now fully in her twilight years?
THE MOST REVILED PLAYER IN THE UNITED KINGDOM: It’s hard to find a Brit who fancies Serena. Is it because she’s loud and demonstrative; black; American; in-your-face; a winner so often; or all of the above? Or something else?
THE MOST BELOVED FOREIGNER IN THE KINGDOM: In contrast, Brits adore Roger Federer because he is quite the gentleman champion, and so reflective of their beloved Victorian values. An impeccable ambassador, he’s graceful, well-spoken, a gorgeous mover, and an adept talker who loves tradition.
BIG WEAPON, BUT TO NO AVAIL: John Isner hit a 137mph serve to win his first-set tiebreak 10-8 against Feliciano Lopez. But Lopez, a gifted grass-court player, roared back to win in four.
GO FIGURE: Wimbledon spent $170 million to build their roof, but didn’t use it at the start of the Andy Murray match. (Conspiracy theory 101: A closed roof was said to be an aid to big-server Kevin Anderson.)
LATE DISTRESS CALL: Saturday night, Madison Keys called for the trainer at 9:27 p.m.
MADISON AND THE KEYS TO THE SCRIPTURES: Madison Keys, who had to withdraw from her third-round match due to a muscle strain in her abductor muscle, is young, delightful, and fun. But there wasn’t much fun for her on Saturday night, coming off a very dark court and suffering physically. “You were close to tears?” a reporter noted.
“Yeah,” Madison admitted, “It was more like I was trying not to bawl my eyes out. I think there were some tears. It’s definitely not how I want to be leaving Wimbledon.”
Keys joked that before her match she had so much tape on she “could barely walk.” As for her future, she told the press, “I would love to sit here after a Grand Slam win … Obviously I can’t sit here and tell you that I’m going to [do it]. But it’s definitely a goal.”
As for America’s many promising young women players, Keys, who is ranked No. 30 and rising, said there’s definitely “another generation … coming through now. You saw it at the French Open, with the big upsets … We’re all gaining a little bit of confidence from each other. We see that she’s doing it and say, ‘Maybe I can go out and do it.'”
The BBC said Keys’ match against Yaroslava Shvedova “was played in the gathering gloom,” while USA Today asked, “Do you think if Hawk-Eye is not working when it gets dark, then the match should probably be called?”
Keys replied, “If Hawk-Eye can’t see the ball, then maybe our human eyes can’t see the ball great either.”
When asked what her “moments of tears” were about, Keys said she just didn’t want to completely bawl out there on court: “It was definitely [about] mostly pain, but it was also realizing, ‘This hurts really badly, I don’t know what’s going to happen.'”
IT then said, “Most 19-year-old Americans who come to England are pretty excited to see the House of Commons or, say, Stonehenge. How would you describe your trip to England this year?”
Keys replied, “This is my third or fourth time [here], and I’ve [still] never been to London. I’ve never seen anything other than Wimbledon. I really wish that I had.”
“They have pretty good theater,” we noted.
Madison responded, “I hear that … Wimbledon is the end of a long trip. Once I’m done, I’m usually on a plane headed back home.”
WRITE OFF WILLIAMS AT YOUR OWN PERIL!
BABY FED HAS GROWN UP NOW
WIMBLEDON BOWS TO SLIPPING SARTORIAL STANDARDS
MONEY-DRIVEN PLAYERS ARE ‘TOO BADLY BEHAVED’
GIANT ANDERSON CALLS ON LOW CUNNING AS HE REACHES FOR NEW HEIGHTS
TALL GUY OR FALL GUY
WOZNIACKI MAY FIND CZECH TOUGH TO BOUNCE
KEEPING A THEME GOING: After her loss on Saturday, Serena said she sucks in doubles. Today she and Venus were rained out, which prompted one broadcaster to say, “Serena’s match has been washed out, so she won’t be able to show us that she sucks in doubles until tomorrow.”