Where to begin. Manic Mondays or that should Mundane Mondays or Muck-Up Mondays. That is the way I am feeling right now after the events at Wimbledon today. Today, 2 of the biggest stars that women’s tennis have ever witnessed were sent packing from the hallowed grounds of Wimbledon. It is ironic that they were sent packing by 2 players who have between them 4 WTA titles and 1 appearance in a Grand Slam.
Pironkova, she of the forehand slice, deceptively accurate serve and lethal backhand showed that her win against Venus Williams in the quarter finals of the Championships in 2010 was not a fluke. Having gone 6-15 for this season, Pironkova turned up at the Championships, apparently to defend the points (which according to her she had no idea that points were awarded for going far in tournaments) turned up a deadly performance in ousting the 5 time Wimbledon titlist and WTA Tour veteran, 6-2, 6-3 in what can only be called a command performance.
Earlier that day, Venus’ little Sister, defending champion and 13 time Grand Slammer, Serena Williams was also ousted from the Championships by Marion Bartoli. Fans of women’s tennis will remember that Bartoli was the player who sent Justine Henin packing in the semifinal of Wimbledon in 2007. Today, she backed up the potential she showed by staying strong and serving lights out to take out the defending champion. Serena however showed why she is indeed the toughest woman in tennis as it took Bartoli 5 match points before she could finally put away Serena Williams.
Fans of Caroline Wozniacki will have to wait until the US Open for the World’s No. 1 to win a Major as she was ousted today in three tough sets by Cibulkova. Cibulkova hit winners from every side of the court but especially from her forehand side. She made the world’s No. 1 look pedestrian in her victory today. Cibulkova has now taken out 2 of the biggest contenders for this title and she will now face the woman that many have picked to win these Championships, Maria Sharapova.
The others left in the tournament are Petra Kvitova, Tamera Paszek, Victoria Azarenka, Wild Card Sabine Lisicki and Marion Bartoli. It will be a very interesting quarter final from the ladies and we may very well have a very new Grand Slam champion on the women’s tour.
Today’s round of 16 losses by both Williams Sisters marks the first time that either woman has lost in this round at Wimbledon. The loss does not seem to have affected Serena in the same way that it seems to have affected Venus. In her post match presser Serena seemed almost defiant in her loss as she said that she can only get better and actually threw down a challenge that the rest of the women’s tour should watch out. Venus on the other hand, while sounding stoic in her loss, seemed quite bemused that she could not find a way to get past Pironkova today.
She indicated in her presser that she does not know why she cannot seem to play her best against Pironkova. As I sit here and write this, I am watching the match on mute and I can tell Venus the reason why she does not play her best against Pironkova. Pironkova believes. She has no doubt in her mind that she can beat Venus. Venus, on the other hand knows that Pironkova can beat her and as a result she is not able to play without fear.
I remember years ago when Venus first came on Tour every woman on Tour did not like to play against her. She was as tough as they came. She had to fight tooth and nail for all that she has attained. From media critics about her game, to the anti-Williams sentiment that permeated the Tour at that time. Every player even her fellow Americans did not know what to make of her and her sister, and indeed the rest of the Williams Family. I strongly believe that as a result of having to stay strong during those tough moments early in their careers, Venus and to a lesser extent Serena, became extremely tough and competitive opponents.
Today, after achieving so much, maybe the desire to prove themselves is no longer relevant. Maybe, the fact that they are now acknowledged as being great players in their own right and maybe as a result of their accomplishments both on and off the court, the fire to compete is no longer there. I don’t know but the Venus from even 2005, the Venus who stared down match points on so many occassions, the Venus who would look across the net at her opponent and tuck her weave behind her ears and adjust her Diane von Furstenburg dress was nowhere in sight today.
Today, I saw a woman who gave up and that is not my Venus.
I am hoping that with more match play, less injuries and that bravado that she has where she has ruled SW19 for so many years will return. I know that many of her fans would like to see that again.
On another more humours note, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, winner of zero WTA singles titles, black eye-liner, and who spends more time on her bizarre outfits and who never even made it past the first round is now the top female American player. Even more humourous, Melanie Oudin, she of the “I cannot win a first round match to save my life” is now ranked ahead of Serena Williams.
Take a drink folks, the ride is only going to get better.