Pretty knows I will be grumpy next week because today the two week tennis odyssey known as Wimbledon climaxed with the men’s championship match which pitted 25 year old Italian Matteo Berrettini in his first career slam final against five time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia. The not unexpected result was a sixth Wimbledon title for Djokovic, but Berrettini tested the champ with his massive serve and forehand that Djokovic called “the hammer” in his post match interview on court.
Novak also played for his place in history today – his victory gave him a total of 20 grand slam titles that tied the record for men on the tour with Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal. At 34 years of age, Djokovic is the youngest of the three (Nadal is 35, Federer will be 40 in August) and thought to be a favorite for a gold medal in the Olympics this summer as well as the front runner in the US Open in New York which begins August 30th. He is now also leading the conversation for the GOAT of men’s tennis; his four set win on the Wimbledon grass courts today support the acclaim.
If anyone is looking for a tennis band wagon to climb on for a ride to the top, Djokovic is your man. Those of us who are Nadal and Federer fans for the past 20 years find Novak’s band wagon a tough one to climb on, but it’s hard to argue with his professionalism, his commitment to the game, and most of all…his success. Well done.
The Wimbledon women’s championship was played yesterday with two newcomers to the final: Ash Barty of Australia, Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic. Barty won a thrilling 3 set match which began with a frozen Pliskova who lost her first four games on Centre Court but she thawed in the second set to push Barty, the number 1 player in the world, to a third set. Wow. Big hitting, Vanna. Pow – take this. Pow – you take that.
The unusually emotional Barty paid tribute to fellow Indigenous Australian Evonne Goolagong Cawley who won her first Wimbledon singles title in 1971 fifty years ago. Barty not only made Cawley proud but also the entire country of Australia which holds Ash as a special part of its large tennis heart that is sprinkled with awesome champions in the past. I’ve just about given up on tears, but mine flowed alongside Barty’s during her interview after the match. You see, I remember when Evonne Goolagong won Wimbledon so Barty’s respect for her mentor and friend made me feel the emotions I always felt when Dick Enberg wrapped up NBC’s Wimbledon coverage every year. Enberg was a man who tapped the spirit of sports – and the tennis tradition that was Wimbledon.
My love for this game runs deep, and one of the ways I mark time is by the tennis season majors. The Australian Open, Roland Garros and now Wimbledon are in my 2021 rear view mirror. The Olympics are an added attraction this year but I know the year is drawing to a close when the US Open ends in September. Remarkable how time slips away.
On a totally different subject I had a remarkable conversation this week with someone who told me he hadn’t been vaccinated against the Covid virus. We live in South Carolina which currently ranks 39th. in the nation out of 50 states with our 39% of the population fully vaccinated so I wasn’t surprised to talk to someone who was in the majority. But his objections to the vaccine included his opinion it had not been fully tested plus his belief in a mysterious component lurking in the vaccine which was designed for “culling” the population. I shook my head and asked him who he thought was being “culled?” Hearing this fiction on the news made the ideas seem distant, unrelated to my life. Having the black magic plots brought to me at my back door steps by someone I knew personally – someone whose work I admired – chilled me in the hot summer humidity.
As John McEnroe would say, You cannot be serious?
Stay safe, stay sane, get vaccinated and please stay tuned.