For tennis fans, when July rolls around, the sounds of tennis balls flying off rackets held by seasoned warriors or hopeful newcomers, tennis balls traveling through the air at record speeds or strategic spins, landing on immaculately prepared grass courts with awkward bounces that require extraordinary hand-eye coordination to even be struck by another racket held by an adversary across a 3-ft net – for that first fortnight in July and for those fans, the air is filled with the electric sights and sounds of Wimbledon, The Championships at the All England Club, the 3rd of 4 annual Major tennis tournaments but arguably the most revered for its traditions and longevity.
The first week of the two-week tournament at Wimbledon for 2018 is a wrap, as we say in the entertainment industry. I have had my usual bleacher seats in front of a tv this week – the same seats I’ve had for the past 51 years since the color telecasts started. My television sets have changed through the years, but my love of the game has remained steadfast. And cheerio, the addition of the Tennis Channel with its 24-7 coverage of the sport year round has been an awesome addition for Pretty and me.
Pretty once told me many years ago when we were in the middle of a dispute about how much time she devoted to playing tennis (which took her away from me) that “I had tennis before you. I’ll have tennis after you.” That put everything in perspective, let me tell you. As it turns out, she now has tennis with me in the bleacher seats but still longs to be able to return to the courts one day.
Today is Sunday in the middle of The Championships at Wimbledon so the players who survived the first week are resting to prepare for Manic Monday tomorrow when both the women’s and men’s singles round of 16 will be played. The winners of these matches will move on to the quarterfinals, and two of them will win the finals at the end of this week.
The women’s draw has been full of shocking upsets in week one with only one of the top seeds, Karolina Pliskova, remaining. And then, of course, all eyes including mine will be on Serena Williams who won the most important title of all last year when she and her husband served up their daughter Olympia who is the cutest baby ever. Serena has moved on to the second week, and I will be following her progress as I have followed her for the past 20 years. That’s right…t-w-e-n-t-y years. Serena at the age of 35 won her 23rd. major title which set the record for most women’s singles titles in the Open era when she won the Australian Open in 2017.
As for the men in the second week, what can I say? Names that now define a Golden Age of tennis are chasing the Wimbledon title again. Roger Federer who at 37 apparently embodies the ageless body of Dorian Gray had he been a tennis player. The passionate Spaniard Rafael Nadal whose Vamos! inspires the enthusiasm of crowds like touchdowns in a Super Bowl. Winners of the past 6 tennis majors, Federer holds 8 Wimbledon singles titles and Nadal two. Novak Djokovic, another tennis titan, is trying to reclaim his place among the greats but battling the most difficult opponent of all in recent years: himself. Two Americans, veteran big server John Isner, and unseeded unknown Mackenzie McDonald also will play on the big stage on Manic Monday.
And so sports fans, as The Red Man used to call his friends in cyberspace, Pretty and I will be on pins and needles starting at 7 am tomorrow as we cheer for our favorites from the bleacher seats at Casita de Cardinal. Time and tennis march on.
(Nadal at the Olympics in 2016)