Savouring the feel-good moments of 2013 Wimbledon
“One of the great virtues of sport is that it’s unscripted and unchoreographed” – Jon Wertheim, Sports Illustrated Senior Writer.
It was this unscripted and unexpected nature of Wimbledon which instilled hope and belief amongst the most surprising contenders and inspired them to emerge from the shadows of the legends. Wimbledon for many became the dreamers’ paradise where perseverance, dedication and diligence of the underdogs got rewarded and stories arose from their heroics that lingered through SW19 even when the world’s most elite tennis tournament got over.
Tears of joy, shirt-swapping in delight, gleeful yells – Wimbledon witnessed these and revelled in the fabled tales of the warriors who had tasted defeat time and again but had never given up hope. And as the tennis world reverberated with the seismic shocks day after day, we recognised a new hero every day and basked in their moments of unabashed mirth as they pierced every impervious obstacle to get closer to their dreams.
How else could we have savoured one of the most endearing sports moments when Poland made history in men’s tennis in a Grand Slam? Jerzy Janowicz, who etched his name in the record books as the first Polish man to reach a major semi-final, tugged at our heart strings with his display of emotions. When was the last time we saw such heartfelt embrace and shirt-swapping in tennis where the victor and vanquished could hardly be distinguished? For Jerzy, who couldn’t even arrange funds to travel to the 2012 Australian Open, this was a victory of his enormous self-confidence.
Or let us take the glittering example of the Belgian Kirsten Flipkens who defied the doctors’ orders in spite of being diagnosed with life-threatening blood clots in her legs back in April 2012. Her ranking tumbled out of the top 200; her funding was cut by the Flemish Tennis Federation. And yet, she fought on valiantly with the support of former World No. 1 Kim Clijsters, one of the few people to have faith in her abilities. When she let out that guttural yell after defeating former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, it was a resounding answer to all those people who had doubted her and had considered her unworthy of their support.
Wimbledon was the crowning glory for each of these fighters – players with a brave heart and indomitable spirit. It let them bury their burdens under the verdant lawns and march ahead with pride, silencing the cynics and sceptics forever. Or perhaps it helped them remind themselves of how long they had come from the dark days of hardships and uncertainty.
Back in 2010, Sabine Lisicki was out of action for five months with a severe ankle injury during which she had to learn how to walk again. Did she then dream of reaching the Wimbledon final? But she achieved just that, erasing the fine lines of pain and distress and emerging a winner in her own right. The German has been on an upset-making spree at the Big W before but nobody could have possibly envisaged her to topple the unstoppable Serena Williams. It was a triumph of sheer courage and belief, and Sabine’s innocent smile exhibited just that.
For the Slovenian Grega Zemlja, upsetting rising star Grigor Dimitrov was a moral victory after the dire straits that he had been in before. He had once signed up at InvolvedFan.com to raise funds as he wanted to build a strong team around himself. Only two people had come forward with a meagre contribution of $475, but that fundraiser provided him the platform he needed. His insatiable hunger couldn’t be curbed despite all the adversity, and from Wimbledon he surely walked away with a smile.
How can we forget the fledgling talent Bernard Tomic? Wimbledon provided him the freedom he was desperately searching for after being inadvertently mired in the controversy surrounding his father John Tomic. For all his father’s wrongdoings, it was this wonderful talent who was suffering the most in spite of putting up a brave face. It was on these lustrous green lawns that the former quarter-finalist from Australia came alive as he played with boundless confidence once again.
It was also delightful to see the teenage duo of best pals Laura Robson and Eugenie Bouchard motivate each other to reach greater heights. Puerto Rican teenager Monica Puig also left a lasting impression in her very first outing. Wimbledon bubbled with the effervescence and fearlessness of these youngsters and we loved seeing them swish their racquets at SW19.
For the home girl Laura Robson, it was a matter of prestige as well as a heavy burden. But she put up a bold face through it all and displayed immense maturity as she became the first British woman to reach the fourth round since Sam Smith in 1998. British fans were left in raptures.
We also marvelled at how serve-and-volley tennis became the cynosure on these courts again. As much as we were left reeling in shock over Roger Federer’s early departure, we couldn’t help admiring how Sergiy Stakhovsky audaciously brought back the lost art and effectively utilised it. It was refreshing indeed – a far cry from the baseline slugfests that we observe time and again nowadays. And when we also saw Dustin Brown implement serve-n-volley to good use, we thoroughly enjoyed it.