Post-Wimbledon Power Rankings: Another Queen Besides Serena Williams?
Wimbledon is over, the year 2010 tucked away in the record books. Centre Court now sports a roof and artificial lights, an abrupt departure from tradition in favor of increased revenue and pressure from major television outlets.
Most of the traditions, however, stay intact, like bowing to the Queen, strawberries and cream, and no tiebreak in the final set.
While the elongated fifth set has been an issue from time to time, in 2010 it became historically significant, as Nicholas Mahut and John Isner battled over three days in their first-round match, which finally concluded after 11 hours of play, 70-68 in the fifth set.
Neither player could play on after that match even though both tried, Mahut in doubles and Isner in singles. For that reason alone, some sort of limit needs to be established.
Most of the talk was of the men. Without a “suggestive” outfit from Venus, the women remained pretty much invisible throughout the tournament. U.S. coverage focused almost entirely on the Williams sisters—what there was of that. As usual, the men stole the headlines and the regular television spotlight.
So Serena’s amazing win, with her sizzling serve-breaking records, was generally overlooked as all the world continued the Rafa-Roger debate.
Too bad, because the ladies put on quite a show!
1. Serena Williams—Last Power Ranking: No. 6 (WTA Ranking: No. 1)
Last Four Tournaments: Wimbledon [Winner], French Open [Quarterfinalist], Madrid [R16], Rome [Semifinalist].
Power Ranking Points: 2161
The No. 1 seeds were falling all around her in singles and in doubles. Serena, however, held onto her remarkable serve, which allowed her to dominate.
Tested in a few matches, the younger Williams sister survived what the best the field could throw at her, taking the Championship at Wimbledon for the second consecutive year.
Never was her dominance more evident than on the lawns of Centre Court—whenever the defending champion could get a match there.
This gives Williams her 13th Slam and sends her skirting past the legendary Billie Jean King, heading toward Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova on the all-time best list.
Periodically we see someone coming close to Serena, but she quickly sends them back down the ladder every time.
She will be the ultimate favorite heading into New York, where she will surely win again unless sidelined by injury—and sometimes even then she finds a way to win.
2. Vera Zvonareva—Last Power Ranking: NR (WTA Ranking: No. 8)
Last Four Tournaments: Wimbledon [Finalist], Eastbourne [R1], French Open [R2], Madrid [R2].
Power Ranking Points: 1430
The Russian Zvonareva fulfilled all the early promise of her career as she picked apart opponents on her way to the Wimbledon final where she met the indomitable Serena Williams.
Zvonareva defeated No. 15 seed Yanina Wickmayer, No. 4 seed Jelena Jankovic and No. 8 seed Kim Clijsters during the fortnight. She earned her spot in the final the hard way, playing brilliant hard-hitting and aggressive tennis.
Most telling was the Russian’s ability to hold onto her nerves and her temper during tough times. She suffered no melt downs and shed no tears, steeling herself against emotions that often marked her downfall on court.
In the final, she could not defeat a superior player whose serve rocketed across the net with depth, accuracy and power. But credit Zvonareva for holding onto her will to win in the face of overwhelming odds.
In her first slam final, the Russian did herself proud—but still wished she could have come away with a win.
Maybe next time.
3. Tsvetana Pironkova—Last Power Ranking: NR (WTA Ranking: No. 35)
Last Four Tournaments: Wimbledon [Semifinalist], French Open [R1], Warsaw [Quarterfinalist], Stuttgart [R2].
Power Ranking Points: 924
Pironkova entered the semifinals at Wimbledon with the chance to become the first unseeded woman ever to reach the finals at the All-England Club. She broke the Russian Zvonareva’s serve and took the first set.
It appeared the Bulgarian had a real chance to take one more step toward a happily-ever-after finish. But she fell to the Russian in three sets.
Pironvoka had upset Venus Williams in the quarterfinals to win a spot in the semis, so it seemed that anything was possible in this tournament of 2010 with all the top seeds falling, except Serena Williams, who held court on the other side of the draw.
The Bulgarian came from nowhere to do what so many others hoped and wanted to do but could not—to her credit. Whether she will stay up breathing the invigorated air of champions is yet to be seen.
But one thing for sure will change. Pironkova should make it into the U.S. Open without having to qualify!
4. Petra Kvitova—Last Power Ranking: NR (WTA Ranking: No. 29)
Last Four Tournaments: Wimbledon [Semifinalist], Herogenbosch [R1], French Open [R1], Madrid [R1].
Power Ranking Points: 905
Kvitova never expected to make it to the semifinals of Wimbledon. Taking into account most of her match play coming into the event, Kvitova felt lucky to make it out of the first round.
That is to take nothing away from her performance on the grass courts of the All-England Club, but the Czech had never won a match here before 2010.
That did not stop her from ousting feisty Victoria Azarenka and No. 3 seed Caroline Wozniacki as well as her quarterfinal opponent Kaia Kanepi on her way to a semifinal match with No. 1 seed Serena Williams. Although Kvitova lost, she did not go down easily losing 7-6, 6-2.
It marked her first major semifinal. Needless to say Kvitova showed remarkable mental and physical prowess on the courts. You have to believe she will use what she learned to help her advance. At age 20, she has a few good years left. Truly.
5. Venus Williams—Last Power Ranking: No. 8 (WTA Ranking: No. 4)
Last Four Tournaments: Wimbledon [Quarterfinalist] French Open [R16], Madrid [Finalist], Rome [Quarterfinalist].
Power Ranking Points: 669
Venus Williams was accustomed to playing for this championship, having done so seven times and winning five of those.
She won in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2008. She was hoping to add her sixth trophy in 2010. But it was not to be. She was upset in the quarterfinals by the upstart from Bulgaria, Tsvetana Pironkova.
Like many of the top-ranked players, Venus did not live up to her seeding at the All-England Club. Wimbledon was particularly hot and dry for the fortnight and the courts played hard and fast––faster than most expected.
It was disappointing for the elder Williams sister, but she will be back ready to face another field on greener pastures in 2011.
6. Kim Clijsters—Last Power Ranking: OLI (WTA Ranking: No. 7)
Last Four Tournaments: Wimbledon [Quarterfinals], Eastbourne [Quarterfinals], Marabella [R2], Miami [Winner].
Power Ranking Points: 614
Kim Clijsters entered competition at Wimbledon without the foundation of much match play. The Belgian suffered with a foot injury throughout most of the spring after her win in Miami.
Much of the media concentrated on Clijsters coming in as the one true threat to the Williams sisters’ domination at the All-England Club.
It looked as though the challenge was in the offing when Clijsters dismissed country woman Justine Henin in the fourth round.
But then a surprising Vera Zvonareva upset the Belgian in the quarterfinals, after Clijsters won the first set rather easily. The Russian closed out the match winning the final two sets.
It was a shock but Clijsters was down and out. There would be no chance to challenge for the Rosewater Dish for Clijsters.
At least not this year.
7. Kaia Kanepi—Last Power Ranking: NR (WTA Ranking: No. 38)
Last Four Tournaments: Wimbledon [Quarterfinalist], Birmingham [Quarterfinalist], French Open [R2], Miami [R1].
Power Ranking Points: 612
Kanepi started her Wimbledon run by knocking off the French Open finalist and world No. 6 player Samantha Stosur in the first round. Stretching that win, Kanepi advanced all the way to the women’s quarterfinals.
She met Petra Kvitova in the quarters and they battled fiercely for the final spot in the semifinals. Eventually the Czech Kvitova won 4-6, 7-6, 8-6 to advance. All the same, Kanepi’s run was remarkable and she had her best results ever at Wimbledon.
The Estonian has powerful ground strokes and a big serve which may let her down from time to time. The main knock on the young woman is her fitness. This year at Wimbledon it did not seem to be an issue and she went the distance more than once.
Hopefully, this will mark the beginning of a climb into the upper ranks of the women’s game.
8. Li Na—Last Power Ranking: No. 5 (WTA Ranking: No. 10)
Last Four Tournaments: Wimbledon [Quarterfinalist], Birmingham [Winner], French Open [R32], Warsaw [Semifinalist].
Power Ranking Points: 602
Li Na was playing superlative tennis at Wimbledon until she ran into Serena Williams in the quarterfinals. She had defeated the No. 7 seed, Agnieszka Radwanska to win her chance to play against the younger Williams sister.
As the tour moves on to hard courts, Li Na will be playing on her strongest surface and will be looking to advance even further into the women’s top ten.
With her best ever result on the lawns of the All-England Club, the Chinese lady should ride that improvement into the next and longest part of the season.
9. Jelena Jankovic—Last Power Ranking: No. 3 (WTA Ranking: No. 2)
Last Four Tournaments: Wimbledon [R4], French Open [Semifinalist], Madrid [Quarterfinalist], Rome [Finalist].
Power Ranking Points: 560
Fighting injuries, Jankovic entered Wimbledon on a wounded wing and a prayer. She lasted through the first three rounds and finally retired in the fourth round against eventual finalist, Vera Zvonareva.
Because of Venus Williams' surprise exit in the quarterfinals, however, Jankovic finds herself now ranked No. 2 in the WTA.
With relief Jankovic gets ready for the summer hard courts, looking forward to the U.S. Open where she reached the finals in 2008, losing to eventual champion Serena Williams. The world is looking up for the Serbian.
10. Justine Henin—Last Power Ranking: OLI (WTA Ranking: No. 13)
Last Four Tournaments: Wimbledon [R4], UNICEF Open [Winner], French Open [R4], Madrid [R1].
Power Ranking Points: 430
According to all the media outlets, Justine Henin returned to tennis in order to win the one major that had eluded her throughout her career––Wimbledon.
She was inspired seeing Roger Federer hang in there until he finally won the French Open.
Henin too felt she could change her approach to the game enough to allow her to win Wimbledon.
This year marked her first chance to try. She did well but again suffered with a most unfortunate draw, meeting Kim Clijsters in the fourth around. Henin won the first set convincingly but could not hold Clijsters back in the second.
A fall Henin suffered in the first set injured her right elbow and she could not sustain the power on her strokes. She lost in three sets.
Further, Henin has withdrawn from the tournaments in the American hard court swing, missing the U.S. Open as well. It was an unfortunate spill for the Belgian. She will have to postpone fulfilling her Wimbledon wish until 2011.
Outside Looking In—Francesca Schiavone
Power Ranking Points: 423
The Italian who took the tennis world by storm, winning the French Open was stopped dead in her tracks on grass. She lost in the first round at Eastbourne and again in the first round at Wimbledon. Maybe Schiavone just had not come down to earth after her astonishing win in Paris.
Outside Looking In—Maria Sharapova
Power Ranking Points: 402
Sharapova looked like her old self during her first set with Serena Williams in the fourth round at Wimbledon. Finally it appears that her serve has stabilized and she looked as if she were hitting her ground strokes with the same fire and desire she exhibited before her shoulder surgery.
Hopefully the willowy blond is back in the game.
Outside Looking In—Caroline Wozniacki
Power Ranking Points: 397
The Danish teenager had great ambition going into Wimbledon. But her run ended in the fourth round as she met and was defeated by Petra Kvitova during her fantastic showing at the All-England Club.
The nice thing about being a teenager is that you have plenty of time to improve. Undoubtedly, Wozniacki will do just that. She has the necessary fire and determination to be a champion.