The European grass season is one of the best tennis seasons of the year. The verdant, manicured lawns and the pristine atmosphere make tennis-watching a spectacular experience. And it is during this time of the season that we get to see one of the best grass exponents of the game – Sabine Lisicki play to her potential.
Lisicki and her joie de vivre are something to behold on the turf. The German simply makes tennis look effortless. Lisicki’s struggles on other courts are magically replaced by a confident countenance and a beaming smile on grass courts. Underneath it all is a fiery competitor who booms aces at record speed and brandishes her forehand mercilessly.
And yet within seconds, she can transform herself into her endearing personality with infectious charm.
Lisicki is probably the best example of how a single surface can inspire to bring out one’s innate tennis talent. The connection with grass, or with Wimbledon in particular, almost seems inherent.
“I just feel so much at home on grass. As soon as I practised on grass for the first time, it just felt like I’ve been on it my whole life, so it’s always a nice feeling to come back and play on grass – I really enjoy it,” said Lisicki.
Impervious self-belief on grass
Right when she steps onto these courts, all one can observe is a sense of serenity which pushes Lisicki towards her pursuit of excellence. For many others, performing in the world’s most famous tennis court at SW19 comes with anxiety, but for Lisicki, it is a privilege.
She thrives on the court, unperturbed by the daunting task of facing some of the world’s most feared tennis rivals. Against none other than Serena Williams in 2013, the German was quickly fading away in the final set. The World No. 1 was on a whopping 34-match winning streak at the time.
Down 0-3 against the reigning French Open champion, one might expect a player to be distraught and clueless. Not Sabine. The dire situation only evoked the German to come up with something spellbinding. Lisicki hypnotized Centre Court crowd with her display of fluid motion and imperious groundstrokes, leaving even Williams surprised. After capturing the final set 6-4, Lisicki’s elation was palpable to anyone who saw it:
During these few weeks, Lisicki gets to be who she is which is why her tennis does all the talking. Her big game is tailored aptly for the green turf. She feels the joy and that is manifested in her performances. Tennis doesn’t become a cumbersome job for her anymore. Out comes her candour, her innocence, her radiance and her appeal.
A 79% winning record at Wimbledon
Grass is where Lisicki best works her magic. This has seen her bury the hopes and dreams of four reigning French Open champions on the other side of the English Channel – Svetlana Kuznetsova, Li Na, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams.
With her extraordinary results on this surface that has seen her even reach the coveted Wimbledon final, Liscki sits just behind Serena Williams and Sharapova when it comes to career grass winning percentage (33-11, 75.0 percent). At Wimbledon, it is 23-6 (79.3 percent).
World Record holder
That 79% statistic could perhaps change, as this is Lisicki’s most productive part of the season. The vivacious girl has already started asserting her supremacy on the surface this year. At Birmingham on Wednesday, the 2011 champion vroomed into the record books with a mind-boggling demonstration of serves against the rising Swiss Belinda Bencic. With an incredible 27 aces, she set a new record for the most number of aces in a WTA match.
An ecstatic Lisicki was asked later on how special it was to come back to a tournament where she had already won before.
“It's always special to come back to a tournament you’ve won before, but it’s not only that. All the memories I have playing in England, winning here and doing so well at Wimbledon – it’s all so nice,” replied the German.
The stage is now set for Lisicki to continue to work her magic at SW19, in the country that she loves playing in.
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