2013 Wimbledon: The Biggest Takeaways from the All England Club
The 2013 Wimbledon Championships were as unpredictable, unusual and entertaining as any in the recent history of the sport’s most prestigious championship.
Upsets grabbed the headlines of the event’s first week, as did injuries and a debate about the proximity of the tournament to the demanding French Open. The championship saw stars fade early and new faces make deep runs through both the men’s and women’s draws.
In the end, however, the fortnight belonged to a British man for the first time in 77 years as Scotland's Andy Murray finally won that elusive Wimbledon title in a grand performance Sunday against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
Marion Bartoli won her first Grand Slam title at the age of 28, but the major headline from the women’s side of the championship was the fact that Serena Williams didn't even make the final. In fact, the dominant American failed to even make the quarterfinals, losing to Sabine Lisicki in the fourth round.
Indeed, the 14 days of tennis at the All England Club were historic, surprising, confounding and certainly captivating.
Here are some of the top takeaways and storylines following the completion of one crazy Wimbledon fortnight.
Andy Murray Is the King of Wimbledon
Raise your lagers in toast and tribute, men and women of Great Britain, as Andy Murray is your new King—of Wimbledon, that is.
In the biggest thing to happen to British tennis in 77 years, Murray bested top-seeded Novak Djokovic in straight sets to win his first-ever Wimbledon crown and become the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to claim glory at the All England Club.
With the victory, Murray not only captures the hearts of his fellow countrymen, he positions himself as the top player in tennis with two Grand Slam titles in his past three major starts.
In fact, Murray has reached the finals in the four straight Slams he has competed in, including his victory at the U.S. Open over Djokovic last September. Murray didn't play in the 2013 French Open, a fact that likely helped him in this historic Wimbledon fortnight.
Should Murray go on to defend his U.S. Open crown at Flushing Meadows in September, he won’t only be the toast of his home nation, he will be the game’s brightest star during one of the most competitive eras ever in men’s tennis.
Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic Is Tennis' Rising Rivalry
Novak Djokovic knew he not only faced a terrific champion in Andy Murray on Sunday, but he had the force of an entire nation against him.
Murray's strong play and the energy of the Centre Court crowd proved too much for the Serbian to overcome in the Wimbledon finals, and he lost to the Scot in straight sets.
Djokovic's embrace of the emotional Murray in the seconds after his loss is another signature moment in what is fast becoming the best rivalry in men's tennis today.
Three times in the past four Grand Slams, Murray and Djokovic have faced each other in the finals. Murray has now won two of those matchups, including his first-ever slam title in last year's U.S. Open. Djokovic captured the 2013 Australian Open over Murray and beat him Down Under in 2011 as well.
Next up for Murray—who also won the Olympics at Wimbledon last summer—is an assault on Djokovic's top ranking at the U.S. Open later this summer. There's no doubt the pair will be seeded No. 1 and No. 2, and the demand for a fifth finals matchup will be significant.
It won't be easy for either player to get there, but should they meet in the finals at Flushing Meadows, it will be another great chapter in a growing but respectful rivalry.
There's Still a Flaw in the Grand Slam Schedule
It may not be anything new, but this crazy Wimbledon fortnight demonstrated more than ever before that additional time is needed in between the French Open and Wimbledon Championships.
Likewise, there should be an extension of the grass-court season to help the best players in the world—those who typically tend to go deep into the French Open—transition to the slick natural turf of the All England Club.
The first week of the 2013 Wimbledon Championships was a barren wasteland of top-seeded players, with the likes of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka going down to upset or injury.
The trend continued the second week with Serena Williams getting bounced in the fourth round.
Granted, upsets and injuries happen, but it just stands to reason that more than two weeks is required between a grueling major like the French Open and the prestigious Wimbledon, which is played on a surface that is about as far from the red clay of Roland Garros as you can get.
We're not sure how, or even if the schedule can be changed, but no one can argue that the short turnaround from Paris to London and the lack of tuneups to prepare for the grass-court game doesn't affect the quality of play at least early at the All England Club.
Bartoli Shows Perservance and Opportunity Pay Off
Six years after her first (and last) opportunity to win a Wimbledon championship, Marion Bartoli claimed her first Grand Slam title at the All England Club in a straight-sets victory over Sabine Lisicki.
The unexpected but much-appreciated triumph is a tribute to the great level of perseverance and belief the French woman showed throughout this wild and unpredictable Wimbledon fortnight, as she never lost a set.
Bartoli certainly wasn't expected to win this Wimbledon. Even when the game’s brightest stars began falling around her in the first week, she was consistently underestimated despite the fact that she played at such a high level.
Yet with her victory Saturday over Sabine Lisicki, Bartoli became the first woman in the Open era to go 47 major starts before winning her first Grand Slam title
In doing that, Bartoli proved just how far determination, opportunity and execution can carry a talented tennis player seeking a career accomplishment few thought possible just 13 days before.
During this fortnight, Bartoli showed at the All English Club just how deep the women’s game is and what can be accomplished with a great deal of talent and an equal amount of perseverance.
Serena Williams Is Human After All
It turns out Serena Williams is human after all, and that’s good news for the rest of women’s tennis.
The bad news is there's little doubt her early exit this past week at the All England Club will serve to motivate the world's top-ranked player heading to the final Grand Slam of 2013.
In perhaps the most stunning upset of an incredibly unpredictable Wimbledon fortnight, Williams was ousted in the fourth round by eventual runner-up Sabine Lisicki.
The three-set loss, which came after Serena was up a break in the third set, ended an impressive 34-match winning streak that included her dominant performance in winning the 2013 French Open.
While it’s just one loss, the setback provides hope for both established and rising players looking to prevent Williams from defending her Open crown and claiming her fifth U.S. Open title in early September.
That said, despite her Wimbledon setback, Serena remains the odds-on favorite to win her 17th career Grand Slam and put behind her the unexpected early ousting at the All England Club.
An All-Time Low for American Men's Tennis
Where have you gone, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and John McEnroe?
As evidenced by the sorry state of affairs at the 2013 Wimbledon Championships, American men’s tennis is at an all-time low, and things don’t appear to be getting better anytime soon.
For the first time since 1912—yes, 1912—not a single American man advanced beyond the second round at the All England Club. Making matters worse, it really wasn't a major surprise that it happened that way.
Granted, John Isner—the Yank with the best chance of winning Wimbledon along with Sam Querrey—had to exit the tournament in the second round with an injury, but even he hasn't really threatened a breakthrough on the lawn in recent visits to London.
Querrey lost a five-set opening-round match to Bernard Tomic.
In fact, the last American to win at the All England Club was the legendary Sampras in 2000.
Since then, there’s been little red, white and blue around the men’s draw in the second week of the Wimbledon fortnight. Adding insult to injury, the now-retired Andy Roddick is the last American to win a Grand Slam, claiming his only career major at the 2003 U.S. Open.
Roger Federer's Window for Winning Slams Is Closing Fast
We’re not ready to call it an end for Roger Federer in terms of winning Grand Slams, but there’s no doubt that the window for one of the game’s greatest ever champions is closing quickly.
Federer, a fading member of tennis’ “big four,” lost in a second-round stunner to relative-unknown Sergiy Stakhovsky.
The straight-sets setback only furthered discussion as to whether Federer, who hasn't won a Grand Slam since the 2012 Wimbledon Championships, is done winning majors and on the cusp of retirement.
There’s no doubt that Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray have separated themselves from Federer, and that other elite men such as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and David Ferrer have caught up to him.
It didn't appear as such in the second round of Wimbledon, and a much better effort is going to be needed if Federer wants to compete for another title at the 2013 U.S. Open.
Recent form is not on Federer's side, but it never pays to count the legend out.
Sloane Stephens Is Nearing That Grand Slam Breakthrough
For the third time this year, Sloane Stephens made waves into the second week of a Grand Slam event and continues to show she is on the precipice of a significant career breakthrough.
Stephens advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2013 Wimbledon Championships before bowing out to eventual winner Marion Bartoli in straight sets earlier this week.
That solid performance, which was the deepest of any American—man or woman—during the fortnight, comes after a semifinal appearance at the 2013 Australian Open, which included a victory over Serena Williams, and another fourth-round run at Roland Garros a month ago.
Like most rising stars, Stephens is gaining valuable experience in the 2013 Slams that will undoubtedly pay off in the very near future for the best American player this side of Serena.
That said, considering just how open her draw was made by first-week upsets and injuries, there’s no doubt that Stephens let slip a great opportunity to win her first Slam with her quarterfinal loss to Bartoli.
Chalk it up to another learning experience on a journey toward a first career Slam title that appears to be progressing nicely with every start the talented American makes in Grand Slam events.
Maria Sharapova Continues to Disappoint
Maria Sharapova is without a doubt the most frustrating professional tennis player in the game today. By extension, at the current moment, she is also its most underachieving star.
Less than two weeks after a spirited run to the finals of the French Open, the Russian was bounced in the second round of Wimbledon by Michelle Larcher de Brito—a far cry from challenging Serena Williams for a Grand Slam title as she did just two weeks earlier.
That inexplicable loss is just another in a long series for Sharapova, and one that has kept the second-most talented player in the game from winning a Slam since the 2012 French Open and the 2008 Australian Open before that.
In between those victories, Sharapova has appeared in only three other finals, including her straight-sets French Open loss to Serena last month.
Bottom line is Sharapova has too much talent to be leaving Grand Slams in the early rounds—much less failing to compete in more finals—yet that's exactly what happened at the 2013 Wimbledon Championships.
Nadal Needs Time to Rest and Heal
Rafael Nadal’s aggressive spring schedule, which included a grueling win at the 2013 French Open, took a mental and physical toll on the Spaniard, and it showed at the Wimbledon Championships.
Nadal was bounced in the first round by Steve Darcis, setting off a first week of head-scratching results and mind-numbing upsets.
While he made no excuses, it was clear that the two weeks in between his French Open effort and the opening of Wimbledon wasn't enough to rest his body after playing in nine events since returning from injury in February. Before Wimbledon, Nadal’s form was solid, having won seven titles highlighted by his record eighth triumph at Roland Garros.
Now with two months to rest his weary legs, Nadal will look to prove the loss was due more to fatigue than to any long-term injury or weakness in his game.
Expect Nadal to do just that with a deep run at the U.S. Open later this summer.
The Bryan Brothers Are History's Most Prolific Doubles Team
Twin brothers Mike and Bob Bryan would not be derailed in their historic effort to hold all four Grand Slam titles at one time.
The Bryan Brothers cemented their legacy as the greatest doubles tandem of all time by beating Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo in four sets on Saturday to win the Wimbledon title.
With the win, the Americans completed the Bryan Slam and became the first men’s team to hold all four Slam titles at the same time in the Open era.
The victory, which looked somewhat in doubt after they lost the first set 6-3, was the 15th Grand Slam title in the Bryans' amazing career, and the duo doesn’t appear to be slowing down.
If the Bryans win the 2013 U.S. Open in a couple months as expected, they will join Ken McGregor and Frank Sedgman as the only team to complete a calendar Grand Slam. McGregor and Sedgman accomplished the feat in 1951, years before the Open era began.