Unpredictable nature of women’s game keeps Wimbledon buzzing
Not even top seeds are having a smooth passage with outcomes ‘all over the place’
US player Serena Williams has been ‘flirting with calamity and powerfully dominant’ at Wimbledon. Photograph: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images
In an unguarded moment last week, Heather Watson chirped that women’s tennis results are “all over the place”. She said it in the context of people who gamble being blindly stupid to bet on the women’s game. It was a moment of weakness from the British player, who had just lost, but it was also brutally honest.
World number two and French Open winner Garbine Muguruza has gone home, as has twice winner Petra Kvitova, who fell in the second round on Saturday to an unseeded rival Ekaterina Makarova.
Makarova gathered herself on Sunday and continued in that vein with a 6-4, 6-2 win over 24th seed Barbora Strycova.
The draw is now back on schedule with all men’s and women’s third round singles matches completed.
Going into week two even Serena Williams has failed to steer her path with the steady hand of a 20 times Grand Slam champion. Although she has dropped only one set along the way to American Christina McHale, her matches have become unnerving and ragged, and at other times orchestral and powerful, sometimes all in one 10 minute spell.
For yesterday’s action, 22,000 tickets went on sale on Saturday at 3pm and were sold out in 27 minutes. Around 14,000 of those would have seen Serena drop her first service game in the opening set against Annika Beck, before picking it up and rifling though the match 6-3 6-0 in 51 minutes.
It was Williams 300th Grand Slam win and it moved her into second place on the all-time list, one above Chris Evert and with only Martina Navratilova’s record of 306 ahead of her.
To advance on that and towards another final, where she could potentially meet sister Venus, she needs to dust off two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova.
The Russian, who sports an interesting collection of tattoos to which the All England Club strangely has no objection, fought from 2-5 down in the final set to defeat 18th seed, American Sloane Stephens 6-7, 6-2, 8-6 to reach the second week for the first time since 2008. Kuznetsova was hit with a code violation for coaching early in the final set which sent her into a bitter exchange with umpire Marjana Veljovic.
“I’m just doing my job,” said the umpire, to which Kuznetsova replied, “well, you’re not doing it very well. The Russian argued that her coach Hernan Gumy was giving encouragement and not coaching.
Williams knows what to expect. “Pain doesn’t kill me. I kill the pain,” reads a phrase inked into Kuznetsova’s right bicep.
“We leave it all out there on the court when we play each other,” said Williams, who understands the pain of defeated Novak Djokovic more than most.
Like many people Williams felt that although the world number one was two sets down overnight, he could have come back and beaten Sam Querrey.
“Yeah. I thought Novak would come back. I was surprised he didn’t, actually. But, you know, it happens to all of us,” she said.
“Every time I step out on the court, if I don’t win, it’s major national news. But if I do win, it’s just like a small tag in the corner. It’s not a burden anymore. It is what it is.