Wrapping up Wimbledon 2016 with thoughts on Serena Williams, Steffi Graf, Angelique Kerber, Andy Murray, Brexit, Milos Raonic and more.
Have a question or comment for Jon? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet him @jon_wertheim.
Speed-rounding through your post-Wimbledon notes:
Jon, you said in your Fifty parting thoughts that Brexit wasn’t much a factor at Wimbledon. Tell that to Serena who lost $380,000 in prize money!
—Joey T., New York
• I saw that report but I’m not buying it. First, Serena didn't “lose” anything. The exchange rate is lower than it was prior to the Brexit vote and the GBP has slid relative to the dollar; no question. But all that means is that Serena might want to wait before converting her currency. (How come we never say that players “gain” prize money overseas when the dollar is weak?)
This does go to an issue we brought up a few months ago with Djokovic. When you are traveling the world, likely to be making vast sums of money in different currency, should you be in the arbitrage game? Or at least retain different accounts, so you can convert your money at strategic times? Or hedge on potential earnings? I suspect some players (and agents) are savvier about this than others.
No Grump-o-meter needed today :) Andy deserved that.
—Dan B from Baltimore, Md.
• Funny, others commented that, with Azarenka and Sharapova absent from the field, no Grunt-o-meter was required at Wimbledon 2016. Yes, Murray was both well behaved and deserving of the title. Take away those two walkabout sets against Tsonga in the quarters and he played a fairly immaculate seven matches. I spare a thought for Amelie Mauresmo, Murray’s version of David Blatt. I suspect she’s thinking, “S%$#, why didn’t he comport himself like that when I was the coach?”
Raonic seemed pick all the wrong times to charge the net. You don't hit the ball RIGHT at your opponent to come to the net!
• I don't disagree that both his tactics and execution lacked in the finals. But what I really saw was just how profoundly his game is predicated on his serve. It’s all so interlaced. Raonic only had eight aces (to Murray’s seven) in 17 service games. His inability to win cheap and easy points made him go for more on his serves and during points; which only undercut his ability to win cheap and easy points. Murray played Djokovic-style tennis Sunday. That is: a dazzling return game can really mess with a big server.
Delivered without a judgment as merely as fact...Steffi Graf won no Majors in her 30s. This was Serena's ninth.— Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) July 9, 2016
It could indicate a) Serena longevity b) lack of depth and competition in WTA
• This is reference to a tweet I issued after the women’s final asserting that Steffi Graf won zero major titles in her 30s—of course she retired weeks after turning 30—whereas Serena has won NINE in her 30s. This was meant simply to illustrate the different trajectories as they accumulated of 22 majors. But it quickly became a point of polarization. “See, Serena is better than Steffi because of her longevity.” “See, Steffi is better than Serena because she compressed all that winning into a shorter span.”
Hi Jon: Wonderful women's doubles final, Serena Williams continues to amaze. If either of the sisters was a little bit fatigued it didn't show, but spare a thought for Yaroslava Shvedova who by my count was playing her 11th match in six days, and 13th in the last eight.
• I should have mentioned Shvedova. What a tournament for her. And what a fun-to-watch, attacking, athletic player. Bonus points for the specs.
With regard to your comment made in Fifty parting thoughts and related to the privileges which star players enjoy, I have to agree with you. However, I have two remarks: 1) With regard to playing exclusively on Centre Court, it is not only Federer, it is Murray, as well, and 2) Wasn't every player supposed to play at least one match on an outside, unroofed court as Grand Slam officials claim? It seems that among the three star players which participated (Federer, Murray, Djokovic), Djokovic was the only one that had to play on a court other than Centre Court. And this match was interrupted four times... Personally, I do not believe that he lost because of that, but it makes some of Novak's fans feel underprivileged, at the very least. Thank you very much. I shall continue to enjoy your texts!
—Best regards, Nikola Marjanovic, Belgrade, Serbia
• Scheduling is, necessarily subjective. You have a seven-time champ and you have a home-grown player seeded second and you can understand the preferential treatment. My issue is more timing that court assignment. Federer was in the fourth round while some players hadn’t taken the court for their second round assignation.
Has any player been as impacted in this era of Big 3? Only three Grand Slams for Murray is surprising given his abilities...
• Murray has been hugely impacted. Hard to believe that before Sunday, Murray had won the same number of majors as Stan Wawrinka, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova. This was Murray’s 11th major final. He has been in the top four for the better part of a decade. Look, too, at prize money: he has more than doubled Wawrinka’s haul, in a shorter span of time. This is an all-time great player who sometimes seems to have been conferred Ringo status because of the Big Three.
I read your thoughts after the French that despite her winning the Australian in January "nobody expected greatness from Kerber" like they do of Muzuruga. I think now that's a bit premature no? After this final, Kerber is in my opinion now emerging as a player who definitely has more Slams in her and may become "great.”
Will she win 10 Slams? No. But at 28 she still has years ahead of her and if she stays healthy she'll be a contender at any Slam—despite losing today she has to feel confident knowing that she can go head to head with the world's greatest player and that must give her a ton of confidence going into the U.S. Open, a surface she excels on. I predict a Kerber win at the Open!—Craig
• A lot of love for Kerber from you guys. And I am happy to play enabler. Here’s Emily M. from Red House, W.V.:
All hail Serena for her 22nd Grand Slam title and the magnificent match she played against Angelique Kerber to win it. But can I say that my new favorite thing in tennis is Angelique's primal yell (and accompanying fist pumps) just after she's hit a particularly blistering winner? I remember it fondly from her match against Azarenka in last year's U.S. Open and I loved hearing it again in the Wimbledon final this year. That yell brings me right down on the court with her, 100% invested in the outcome of the match and secure in the knowledge that, win or lose, she's giving it everything she's got.
I'm an avid reader of your tennis columns but was away from my computer during Wimbledon. So maybe you reported this and I missed. But it's definitely worth mentioning that Marcelo Arevalo played the doubles at Wimbledon this year. I'm almost 100% certain he's the first player from El Salvador ever to play in a main draw at Wimbledon, maybe even in a qualifying draw as well. That's what I have loved about this game for all the years I've followed it at the pro ranks—the international flavor!
—Jim Barber, Atlanta
• Good catch. Thanks!
• L.A. readers: Late notice but Sports Illustrated is co-hosting a sports and entertainment summit Thursday. Kobe Bryant is the keynote. Yours truly will be moderating a discussion with Jeff Fisher and L.A. Rams executives. Information here.
• This week’s podcast will be some outtakes with Serena Williams following her smashing Wimbledon.
• Hot takes, Canada-style!
• Here’s Richard Deitsch on ESPN’s decision to let John McEnroe broadcast the men’s final.
• Andy Roddick gets his Periscope on.
• A pic for the ages, indeed:
• Speaking of, I’m late to the party here, but want a cool twitter account to follow? Check out @Tennis_photos.
• Love this story on Roger Federer by Michael Cava, a sketchy fellow, as it were.
• Press releasing: UNAIDS has appointed Timea Bacsinszky as a Global Advocate for Young People. Bacsinszky will work to ensure that young people have access to the information and services needed to protect themselves from becoming infected with HIV and will encourage young people to get tested for the virus and seek immediate treatment if necessary to keep them alive and well.
"My generation has never known a world without HIV, but we have the power to change this for future generations," said Bacsinszky. "Ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 will require commitment and perseverance to get the job done and this will only happen if we break down the stigma that still surrounds HIV."
• Top-ranked junior and Bay Area native CiCi Bellis has accepted a wildcard to compete at the 2016 Bank of the West Classic, July 18-24 at the Taube Family Tennis Center on the campus of Stanford University.
• From The New York Times: A Cinderella Story at Wimbledon, Minus the Athlete.
• Andy J. of Thessaloniki has our new feature, the reader rant:
I don't normally believe in asterisks. If player X is dominant in a weak era, perhaps that is because he demoralized the opposition. If X wins a Grand Slam after his main rival Y—whom he has never beaten—is eliminated before the final, then Y should have been consistently managing to beat more players. If it's because Y was injured, that's part of professional tennis and who you are as a player, trying to maintain your body at 100%, and inevitably sometimes failing. If Y has an accident, say gets stabbed during a normal, innocent outing, you could also say, that's part of the inherent randomness of luck/life.
But getting stabbed for tennis-related reasons, by a fan of your rival is not randomness or luck, it's not part of professional tennis or who you are as a player, and it goes beyond the “you beat the players put before you.” It's a purposeful action, to eliminate you—exactly because of your dominance—and anoint someone else a GOAT.
Steffi Graf is one of the classiest and greatest champions ever and I know this unpleasant topic has been discussed ad nauseam. But I just can't see how one can avoid the asterisk, and it's a pretty big one; it's a simple extra step to imagine someone who manages to eliminate, not one, but the top ten, or the top 100, the best the era could produce... Wouldn't subsequent titles be seriously demeaned? Far-fetched example of course but the principle is not different. Anyway, for that, by major titles as a criterion, Serena is the GOAT for me.