Tennis crowds around the world have one thing in common: they buy tickets to see the big names play, and during the game they cheer for the underdogs. Unless Roger Federer plays. Then they cheer for Roger.
This year at the Wimbledon finals they will have all they like: big names, underdogs and Roger. Even though it might seem like a perfect combination there is, however, a significant inequality. The men’s draw gets the big names (including Roger) and the women’s final - the underdogs.
I know that calling Petra Kvitova (ex-Wimbledon champion) and Eugenie Bouchard the underdogs might seem harsh, as they both have had really good seasons but the world no. 6 taking on the world no. 13 is not quite a final line-up one would expect at Wimbledon.
But no one is shocked either, are they? In the last year’s final Sabine Lisicki lost to Marion Bartoli. In Melbourne Li Na claimed her first grand slam title this year. In Paris Maria Sharapova lifted a first grand slam trophy in two years. Now, seeing the top seeds being knocked out of Wimbledon one by one we start wondering if it’s the end of an era?
Let’s call it the Williams era. It has started 15 years ago. Tournament after tournament Serena would face her sister Venus in the final and they were only stoppable by each other. Although Serena is still world No 1 it is not quite the same Serena anymore who has won 32 Grand Slam titles (in all categories) since her first one 15 years ago. This season? She wasn’t even close.
Could anyone replace her? Not anytime soon. None of the players on tour serve over 200km/h so effortlessly and have that ability to destroy players both mentally and physically.
If Serena is still the queen who are the emerging princesses?
Simona Halep once said that to beat Serena is anyone’s biggest dream? But who is Simona Halep? Watching tournament after tournament she was there but wasn’t really noticed: shy and focused. Without even realising where and how she is the world number 3. With all due respect for her achievements and skills, I don’t think she is the one.
Eugenie Bouchard is a stronger contender. She hasn’t even made it into the top 10 and she’s already loved and followed around the world.
What makes the champion?
Skill? Maybe in an ideal world. In the tennis world and in my world skill, personality, and a bit of madness. And let’s not be afraid to admit that looks help as well. That’s why my bet for the next stand-out player is Camila Giorgi, the current World No 39. A tiny Italian with huge skill and an even bigger temper. Just like the greats before her, Serena, Maria and Vika.