THE GOSPEL OF BILLIE JEAN KING

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WIMBLEDON

Bill Simons

WHAT A MOMENT: Nadal comforting a weepy Juan Martin del Potro on the baseline after his defeat.

SERENA SAVED HER OWN LIFE: Serena strongly advised her doctors during the four surgeries she had after her life-threatening pregnancy. So, IT asked if her knowledge of medicine and her self-awareness saved her life at that time. Williams responded, “Absolutely, I’m so aware of my body. I know exactly what’s going on. I know a lot of stuff in terms of medical. I’m really keen on it. It’s interesting. I really understand how my body works.”

FREEDOM, DEMOCRACY AND THE GOSPEL OF BILLIE JEAN KING: The other day at Wimbledon, it seemed like it was Billie Jean King appreciation day. John McEnroe said, when it comes to BJK, “Forget women’s sports, she’s done more for women, more for everyone. She’s still battling. Players should give Billie a ten percent cut of their prize money. And her partner Ilana Kloss is a saint. She takes care of Billie. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Serena told IT that King “is someone that I really look up to. Starting out in my career I had the honor and pleasure of playing with her on Fed Cup, which was super cool. I will never forget that. I learned so much from her in that little time. It really helped my career. She is someone I always talked to on the court, off the court, text messaged or called. She is just an incredible individual.”

As for King, in an exclusive interview with Inside Tennis at Wimbledon, we asked her to reflect on freedom and democracy. She responded by quoting a comment by the wife of Martin Luther King, Coretta Scott King:Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation.”

Billie Jean said, “It’s very important to realize that. Every generation has to fight for it and earn it – it’s never-ending. It’s about freedom. So, you can never let up. It’s like tennis. In a match you you never let up, because once you do, you don’t know if you will win [until] you’re shaking hands at the net.”

GLORIOUS AFTERNOON: Two of Wednesday’s quarterfinals gave us nine hours of fabulous tennis. One thought that Kevin Anderson’s bold, unrelenting upset of Roger Federer was a 4:14 instant classic. Anderson survived a match point and won 13-11 in the fifth. But then a battle of two great tennis souls – Rafa and Juan Martin del Potro – unfolded. that gave us power and speed, spills and chills, while touching our hearts and proving that del Potro not only has a forehand that astounds but a compassion that matters. And what matters to the singular Nadal, is that he again proved he can bring it on grass, as he got to his first Wimbledon semi since 2011. The BBC said, “Almost five hours of battle and all that is left is respect.” Chris Evert added, “You hated to see anyone lose.” Rafa will now face a foe he might be familiar with. He has “only” faced Djokovic 51 times. Nole has a tiny 26-25 lead, although the Spaniard has won their last two matches, which have been on clay.

YOU KNOW YOU ARE AT WIMBLEDON: Thousands queue for hours or overnight just to get in…A Jaguar swerves to avoid two women Bobbies riding huge horses…Radio Wimbledon interviews the deputy head of the Isaac Newton primary school in Grantham…Reporters dig deep to reveal the hidden secrets of growing perfect tennis-friendly grass…We are informed of important usage stats: 33,211 kg of strawberries, 9,848 litres of cream, 303,266 glasses of Primm’s and 17,120 portions of fish and chips.

A TALE OF TWO CAMILLAS: One is a young Italian commoner with one “l” in her name and a father who is known for his wild hair. The other is a famous royal, an elder with two “l’s” in her name, who has a famous, if rather stiff, husband. On Wednesday Camila Giorgi (whose ever-present dad has the best free-form hair of any tennis parent since Melanie Molitor) did what no one else has been able to do. She took a set off of Serena. Then the next day, another Camilla held court. Prince Charles’ wife Camilla Parker Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall, chatted with military members, ball persons and wheelchair players and tapped into her world-class ability for engaged chat with strangers. Then again, British royals are inspired when it comes to the art of small talk.

YESTERDAY’S FOE IS TODAY’S FRIEND: Yesterday England suffered a tough loss to Croatia in the World Cup. Today Croatian Franko Skugor and Brit Dominic Inglot played together in the men’s semis. Like England, they lost.

THE BOLD AND “BOB-LESS” BOYS: In the absence of his brother Bob, who has a bad hip, Mike Bryan chose to play Wimbledon with Jack Sock, a former doubles champion here. Now, the duo are into the finals.

ON ANOTHER PLANET FROM AUSTRALIA: The BBC proclaimed, “When you see that Jean-Julien Rojer from the Netherlands Antilles is in the mixed doubles quarterfinals, your mind is drawn to the question, ‘Where is the Netherlands Antilles?’ I think it’s on another planet from Australia, and they put a bobsled team in the Olympics, which finished in 28th place.”

QUOTEBOOK:

“She plays young.” – Billie Jean King on the 21–year-old Latvian Jelena Ostapenko

“2017 is over and I am really happy about that.” – finalist Angie Kerber on last year, when the best she did was reach the fourth round at Roland Garros, ending the season at No. 21. She’s now No. 10.

“I’m gutted, I’m absolutely gutted.” – an English soccer fan after her team lost to Croatia

“I don’t think of people as Americans or English or whatever. I think of them as human beings. That’s what matters.” –  A voice in the press room

Serena’s success is shocking, it really is. She came from Compton with, really, hunger, and now she wants more.” – Chris Evert on Serena

HEADLINES:

‘DJOKOVIC AVOIDS VOLCANIC MELTDOWN, BUT ONLY JUST’

‘LENGTH OF GRASS DEBATE GETTING TIRESOME’

SERENA SURGE: Serena played with power and conviction and swept by German Julia Georges in 70 minutes to reach a date in the final against Angie Kerber. She will be seeking to win her 24th Slam title, which would tie her with the record Margaret Court has. If she wins, she would also have eight Wimbledon titles – the same as Roger and one less than Martina Navratilova.

BALKAN BUMMER: Milos Raonic’s always candid, often blunt coach Goran Ivanisevic said his Canadian student – who was born in Montenegro and today lost to John Isner – “sometimes can be very negative…I want him to stay positive….I wasn’t positive,  but I learned from my mistakes.”

GAUFF GAFFE: Fabulous American junior Cori Gauff, who won the French Open junior girls championships and was a US Open girls finalist, was in cruise control. She was up a set and leading in the second against China’s Xiyu Wang, 16.  But then she faltered and fell 4-6, 7/6 (1), 6-4. Editor’s note: Gauff, who could well become a great star, is just 14.

ON THE CLOCK: Sorry, all you free spirits out there, control folks are in the ascendance. The ATP and the USTA will be implementing an assortment of time rules, and clocks to enforce them this summer. One minute to start the warm-up, five minutes to warm-up, 25 seconds to serve and not a heck of a lot of time to reflect or chill. #Gads.

SAY IT ISN’T SO: Another match-fixing dust-up is brewing. This relates to Spaniard David Marrero and a first-round doubles match he played with his partner Fernando Verdasco. Marrero also came under suspicion at the Australian Open.

ELDERS ROCK: All four men’s semifinalists – Rafa, Djokovic, Isner and Kevin Anderson – are over 30.

A TALE OF UNFORCED ERRORS: In one women’s semi, Jelena Ostapenko had 37 unforced errors. Angie Kerber had 7.

THAT SAYS IT ALL: John McEnroe said, “Once Angie Kerber blunted Jelena Ostapenko’s pace, the Latvian was unsure where to go.” The German prevailed.

 

 

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