This is why they don’t hand out trophies at the beginning of tournaments. With most tennis experts and prognosticators treating a Serena Williams ladies singles title at Wimbledon 2013 as a foregone conclusion, big-serving Sabine Lisicki blew up that narrative with a 6-2 1-6 6-4 upset victory over the defending champion. The shock wave rippled throughout sports media outlets, with some treating the discovery that Serena is human as some sort of new realization. Oh, how short their memories are. Serena was great in 2012. She won Wimbledon, the US Open and the Olympics. But she was at Roland Garros last year. Lost. She was at the Australian Open last year and this year. Lost. She was a bit injured when she lost to Sloane Stephens at this year’s Aussie Open, but she was perfectly fine at Doha when Victoria Azarenka beat her. And while the general sports public might not be aware of Sabine Lisicki, tennis die-hards are. I expected Serena to win, of course, but am not stunned to see Lisicki win. First, I know she can serve. She can get it cranking at 122 mph and hit spots. With Venus Williams in and out of the sport, Sabine has the second best serve in the game behind Serena. Also, she is a beast at Wimbledon. This is the 4th time she has beaten the reigning Roland Garros champion at the ensuing Wimbledon. She did it to Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2009. She repeated the upset against Li Na in 2011. Ditto for Maria Sharapova in 2012. Now she’s made french toast out of 2013 Roland Garros champion Serena Williams. Of Lisicki’s 10 wins against top 10 opponents, 6 of them are at Wimbledon. Did Serena get tight at the end? Yes. But, and it’s a BIG BUT, the reason is because Sabine put pressure on her. Lisicki didn’t roll over and quit when Serena had her down 0-3 and 2-4 in the 3rd set. She fought back.
Does this mean I make Sabine the favorite to win Wimbledon now? Not necessarily. There are a handful of players you could make that case for now. Petra Kvitova was the 2011 Wimbledon champion. Li Na knows how to win a Major. Agnieszka Radwanska is the highest ranked player left and was runner-up last year. Marion Bartoli has reached a Wimbledon final. Maybe Sloane Stephens makes a run. Sure, Sabine has a chance. Obviously, she can beat anybody on a given day. However, I’ve watched her long enough to know she can be inconsistent at times. She can beat Serena today and lose to Kaia Kanepi tomorrow. There are a lot of fans, especially American fans, who are bummed today. It’s understandable. Serena is a megastar in women’s tennis. Her competition is not only her peers, but history. She still has a chance to be considered the greatest female player of all time. I choose to look at it differently. From my perspective, now I don’t have to hear tennis experts ramble on ad nauseum about how it’s Serena’s title to lose. Well, it’s been lost. Maybe they can focus on some of the players I’ve mentioned. More than likely, they’ll focus on the American, Sloane Stephens. Sloane is worthy, for sure. I just hope the American sports media can see past their nationalistic myopia to see what a story Li Na winning Wimbledon would be. China would go nuts. It would be far greater than when she won Roland Garros. Aga is the best player at the moment without a Major (since Caroline Wozniacki’s game slipped, anyway). That would be a good story. My point is, there are still stories out there. If I can find them, the folks in the American tennis media should be able to as well.
Marion Bartoli (15) vs. Karin Knapp 6-2, 6-3 final
Laura Robson vs. Kaia Kanepi 6-7 (6-8), 5-7 final
Agnieszka Radwanska (4) vs. Tsvetana Pironkova 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 final
Sloane Stephens (17) vs. Monica Puig 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 final
Kirsten Flipkens (20) vs. Flavia Pennetta 7-6 (7-2), 6-3 final
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