By Bill Simons
AMPLE FAITH IN HER OWN INADEQUACY: Christopher Clarey reported the fact that only 8% of British wildcards win their matches at Wimbledon, while 35% of American wildcards win their US Open matches. This not-so-wonderful British stat brought to mind Sue Mott’s 2008 commentary, which observed, “Only us. Only Britons interpret the umpire’s opening word ‘Play!’ as a knell of doom. And at moments of crisis, Laurie Lattimore‘s manifold faith in her own inadequacy, backed up by almost 20 years of abysmal British failure, took its torrid grip on her mind. Her confidence drained away like a Yorkshire reservoir … After all, the back view of receding British women with towels around their hunched shoulders is a familiar sight to regular Wimbledon watchers.”
JUST DOESN’T SEEM RIGHT: Two-time Wimbledon champ Rafa Nadal, who won the grass-court warmup in Stuttgart, is seeded No. 10.
MIRACLES DO OCCUR: Conventional wisdom has long told us that—along with altering the Davis Cup format—tennis’s toughest change would be to alter the long-established summer schedule of Wimbledon falling just two weeks after the French Open. Each summer, after up to nine weeks on gritty clay with its high bounces, players have to switch quickly to grass—slick and fast. It is said that the hardest thing to do in tennis is win the Paris-London double. Only four legendary men have been able to do it in the Open era: Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg (three times), Rafa Nadal (twice), and Roger Federer. Seven women have won the Euro double, but none have done it since a very young Serena Williams back in 2002. Will an extra week between Roland Garros and Wimbledon make it easier for Serena to pull off the double this year?
FEDERER’S SECRET: The greatest grass court player in history, Mr. Federer, is coming off an impressive victory in Halle. He’s now won the Gary Weber Open eight times. At this year’s tournament he said, “One big secret on grass, I guess, is [knowing] when to hit which shot and playing the score the right way. Because you might be playing perfect, but then in the wrong moment you [make] a bad decision—grass makes you pay for it all.” After a slow start, Federer held serve 49 straight times and was 6-0 in tiebreakers.
GO FIGURE: She’s perhaps the best tennis player of all time, but as seen in recently on Instagram, Serena Williams might also be (among top athletes) one of the worst swimmers ever.
WHAT DOES ANDY MURRAY HAVE IN COMMON WITH SHERLOCK AND CHURCHILL? Well, Murray, like Sherlock Holmes, has solved a lot of mysteries out there. Like Winston Churchill, one might say that the Scot is the veteran of many a battle. More to the point, the answer to our question is that the Royal British Mail issued a stamp to honor Murray, just as they did with Sherlock and Churchill.
ROBSON RETURNS—SOME RIGHT ADVICE FOR LEFTY LAURA: Seven years ago, 14-year-old Laura Robson—bright, innocent and the darling of British tennis—won the junior Wimbledon title. She went on to land a high-powered agent and score tour wins over the likes of Venus Williams, Kim Clijsters, Li Na and Petra Kvitova.
Can you say superstar?
About two years ago, lefty Robson reached No. 27. Then disaster struck in the form of a debilitating wrist injury. She’s been sidelined for a year and a half—roughly forever for a young tennis player.
Now, just in time for grass season, Robson is coming back. Not surprisingly, she has a wildcard into Wimbledon, where she will be greeted as a returning hero.
But manage your expectations, good Britons.
In her only match this year, Robson, 21, was just crushed by the rising Aussie-Russian Daria Gavrilova. Laura’s coach Mauricio Hadad quickly advised her, “Here is just one little thing we need to work on—everything’.
HUMILITY ON PARADE: A sign by Feliciano Lopez‘s pre-Wimbledon locker read “Handsome Tennis Association.”