GEN V: F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote of the Lost Generation. Tom Brokaw wrote of the Greatest Generation. Cultural critics have long dissected Gen X. Now tennis celebrates Gen V – that would be Venus Williams, the ageless 37-year-old. The only player left in the draw who has won Wimbledon, she has given us so much – 100 matches, 86 wins, five titles – and is poised to give us more. Here, she has gone through the semis, beating three young players, twenty or younger, and having lost just one set. Never mind that five years ago we said she was done. Never mind that we got used to her being her sister’s prime and so loyal cheerleader, and never mind that she’s overcome Sjogren’s Syndrome. She’s now dealing with the serious ramifications of a fatal auto accident.
There is something Venus adores about Wimbledon – its serenity. She seems to blossom in a quiet, contained way here. The lady glows. The lady is a legend. The lady could be a champion – again. But one Konta be sure. She now faces the considerable Brit, Johanna Konta.
Williams said, “I love this game. That’s why I put in the effort and the time. It’s a beautiful game…I love the challenge, I love pressure. It’s not always easy dealing with the pressure. There’s constant pressure. It’s only yourself who can have the answer for that. You have to get better if you want to stay relevant.”
As for her sister Serena and her father Richard, Venus said, “They’re definitely here with me, for sure. Even if it’s not physically, they’re definitely here with me. That is one thing I do know. They’re fighting right alongside me.”
KONTA’S KEY: Jo Konta, the first British women’s semifinalist since Virginia Wade in 1978, said working with her therapist and taking a holistic approach has been key to her on court, and far beyond. She gained the understanding that finding happiness on her own terms and independently of her tennis results was essential.
BJORN BORG – SPORTS CAN BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER: Bjorn Borg was known as a wall. You couldn’t get a ball past him. Now his sportswear brand has orchestrated a tennis match on the US–Mexican border with one player on each side of the border – half in Mexico, half in the US. The brand said the match was “intended to manifest an open world in which sport has the power to unite people. So, why build walls, when we could get to know and learn from one another instead?” The match at the Tijuana River featured Palm Springs’ Peter Clemente and Mexico’s Mariano Argote. Long ago, Pakistani doubles star Asiam-Ul-Haq Qureshi hoped to play an exhibition for peace on the politically charged Pakistani–India border. Not surprisingly, it never happened.
A NEW NO. 1: Karolina Pliskova was knocked out in the second round, but goes up to No. 1 Sunday night. This is the second time Simona Halep was poised to take over the top spot but faltered.
GARBINE THERE, DONE THAT: Tall, elegant and calm, Garbine Muguruza swept aside Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova to reach the semis. Now the 2015 Wimbledon finalist and 2016 French Open Champion has a great chance to win the title.
INSIDE THE WIMBLEDON PRESS ROOM: So what goes on inside the Wimbledon interview room. One view of the scene came from British writer Barry Glendenning. He began his very curious overview of the Wimbledon press room by talking about a deep-think question I asked. He wrote, “During the press conference that followed his third-round win over Ernests Gulbis, Novak Djokovic was asked to ruminate on his journey. “Paradoxes and contradictions are some of the more interesting parts of life,” observed his inquisitor. “You’re on this journey that’s exploring different aspects of life, very subtle, inward and quiet. Yet tennis is such a war, a battle, winner, loser – boxing without the violence. How do the two aspects of your life impact each other? Does your journey in any way diminish your ferocity, your fight?”
The Guardian observer went on: “As interrogatory projectiles go, it was a more profound query than the traditional football press conference staple that is, ‘Any knocks?,’ but then Wimbledon post-mortems have long been renowned for their quirky inanity and occasionally kooky weirdness. As well as predictable queries about aching hips, Australian ennui and the controversies surrounding court surfaces and women’s scheduling, assorted still-sweating players have this fortnight been asked to field questions regarding the weirdest things they’ve been asked to autograph, their favorite desserts, the differences between fatherhood and motherhood, the taste of flying ants and the reality-rutting televisual extravaganza that is Love Island.
“The thrilling nerve-tingling classic that had everything.” – The BBC on the Nadal-Muller classic
“We have equal prize money, so why not having equal representation on Central Court and on Court One?” – Chris Evert
“This has been a nightmare for Coco Vandeweghe.” – The BBC
‘I remember Sorana [Cirstea] coming over, talking to me saying, ‘It will be ok.’ That is amazing, at the moment she was there as my friend, it didn’t really matter we were in the middle of our match. She is an amazing person.” – Bethanie Mattek-Sands
GO FIGURE: Slovokian semifinalist Magdalena Rybarikova, who beat No. 3 Karolina Pliskova in the second round, had both knee and wrist surgery last winter. Her ranking fell to No. 453 earlier in the year. She’s now No. 87, but will rise much higher…Jelena Ostapenko was just a few weeks old when Venus first played Wimbledon. Today Venus broke Ostapenko’s streak of 11 straight Grand Slam match wins. Few doubt the Latvian will return to the Grand Slam winners’ circle.
SADNESS IN THE MCENROE CLAN: Just months ago, John McEnroe’s father passed on, and now his mother Kay is battling leukemia. Sadly, her condition has worsened, and reports are that John could possibly miss the latter stages of Wimbledon.
JUST WONDERING: Just how happy is Andy Murray that Rafa Nadal – who has beaten him three times at Wimbledon – has headed home?…How appreciative is Karolina Pliskova of Jo Konta, who beat Simona Halep, enabling the Czech to back into the No. 1 ranking?
FREE, FREE, FREE AT LAST: One rather harsh observer said Djokovic is “gluten-free and [of late] Grand Slam-free”…Svetlana Kuznetsova said being ignored by the media early on at Wimbledon gave her a greater sense of freedom.
TOUGH ON YOUNG FOLKS: In three straight matches, Venus Williams, the oldest player in the draw, beat the youngest players in the draw – Naomi Osaka, 19, Ana Konjuh, 19, and Jelena Ostapenko, 20…Frenchman Adrian Mannarino was fined $9,000 after he bumped into a ball boy while walking back to his chair during his second-round match. When asked about it he said, “I don’t think he hurt himself. It wasn’t a big bump. In fact, he went into me. I don’t know who has priority on the court. Is it the players or the ball boys? Can you do Wimbledon with just ball boys? I don’t know.”
NO WAR ON DRUGS, SAYS ANDRE: Andre Agassi, who failed a test for using crystal meth in 1997, said authorities should go easy on cocaine user Dan Evans. He told the website Yahoo Sport, “The first thing I would say when someone got caught taking some drug, maybe this guy needs some help…[And] Dan should get that. He doesn’t need people to pile on when he is clearly in a bad moment.”
TOMIC’S DAD SAYS HE’S ASHAMED OF HIM: Bernie Tomic’s controversial father says he loves Bernie but, “I am ashamed of how he is approaching this business…It’s not good what he’s doing. I do not support such behavior, especially at a unique tournament such as Wimbledon. You have to have respect and follow the rules…You have to put in 100 percent and challenge yourself.”
Tomic himself told ESPN, “I worked 10 hours a day with my father…[It’s tough] having no money in your life from the age 8 to 15 and driving a $500 car to now…[when I’m] earning millions at 24 and having houses all over the world. You probably don’t like me, but I’m only 24. You guys can only dream of having what I have at 24. At the end of the day, don’t like me or whatever, just go back [and] dream about your dream car or house, as I go buy them.”
Bernie’s father said, “There are lots of haters and sharks who want to destroy Bernard.” Still, telling older, hard-working reporters, “Eat your heart out, I’m young and much richer than you,” is not a message that warms hearts.
BRITAIN KONTA BELIEVE IT
TIME TO ACCEPT DJOKOVIC MAY NOT BE THE SAME
THE DJOKER STEPS ON THE GASSI
COACH AGASSI, THIS IS THE MAN TO REBUILD NOVAK
FRENCH UMPIRE KADER NOUNI SETS PULSES
GROTH: I WAS OFFERED MONEY TO THROW A MATCH
MURRAY HITS OUT AS MEN HOG LIMELIGHT
IT’S 1973 ALL OVER AGAIN
RUTHLESS KONTA KEEPS HER COOL
TENNIS FANS ABANDON THEIR USUAL JINGOISM, AS KONTA AND MURRAY FLY UNDER THE FLAG
SHOW EMOTION AND SMASH YOUR RACKET, COACH TELLS KONTA
DJOKOVIC REDISCOVERS PASSION AND PRECISION