After a momentary derailment in the second set, Chinese dynamo Zheng Jie dispatched her statuesque, highly touted opponent Nicole Vaidisova 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 in what could be called the year's biggest upset yet. Bigger yet than her dispatch of world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic in the third round.
This upset got the diminutive Zheng into the semi-finals in the year's biggest, grandest of events to meet no less than one-half of the resurgent Williams sisters juggernaut.
This 5'4'' Giant Killer, a product no doubt of the Chinese sports programs, is no superstar though. Built to compete in doubles, her ascendance in singles is definitely a surprise no one even thought possible a few days ago.
Tennis is not in the top priority of Chinese sport development. Imagine a young Zheng being sent to one of the Chinese training centers probably to be a gymnast or a diver, only to pick up a tennis racket just to stay in the program.
After years of training, this little mass of muscle turned out not only to have what it takes physically, but mentally as well! Her present shenanigans are no small feat, trouncing a world No. 1 and then winning convincingly while having to recover from crumbling in the second set. Not an easy thing to do even for the best players in Wimbledon.
Serena Williams, former Wimbledon champion, definitely has the inside track in this coming semis encounter with Zheng. But after years on the tour, her ups and downs, her absence from competition in some years, maybe, just maybe, she has lost something. Some level of confidence, a quarter step speed? Or maybe this is just wishful thinking.
Tennis could definitely use something new. Maybe this tiny powerhouse who seems to have everything is it. Power, speed, balance, stamina, heart, will to win, the strokes, and some two billion people behind her. Maybe, just maybe, she has two more giants to slay in what would be the most memorable Wimbledon in years to come.
If this is some fantasy of some kind put off by the dominance of the ovas, evas, ievas, viches—the departure of the ever-fresh, real No. 1, Henin, or the possible return of the Williams sisters dominance and their whole clownish, gaudy entourage—can only wish it would come true. It would be great for the Open, great for Asia, it would be a great boost for the sport itself.