Tumbles, tears and time up?: Five first-week Wimbledon memories
London (AFP) –
There were tumbles, tears and even speculation that time was up for some of the big names at Wimbledon.
As the 2021 tournament heads into its traditional rest day on middle Sunday, AFP Sport looks back on the some of the first week's magical moments:
-- The crowd may have cheered Andy Murray to the rafters as he showed his mental resilience and flashes of his old brilliance but at the end it was not enough to see the former world number one into the second week.
"Is it worth it?" mused Murray after his straight sets third round defeat by world number 12 Denis Shapovalov.
The two-time Wimbledon champion, who has been fighting hip and groin injuries, sets himself far higher goals than just being there to entertain the crowd.
'Onstoppable' Jabeur -- history maker
-- Ons Jabeur endeared herself to the show court crowds with wins over five-time champion Venus Williams and 2017 Wimbledon winner Garbine Muguruza.
However, the 26-year-old is aiming at a far greater audience than those who paid a lot of money to watch her play -- for she hopes her achievements will galvanise young Arab women to take up the sport.
The first Arab woman to win a WTA tournament on the eve of Wimbledon, and now the first into the last 16 of Wimbledon, seldom has there been a better opportunity for her wish to be fulfilled.
"I hope that so many of the young generation is watching, and I can inspire them," she said.
"Hopefully one day I could be playing with a lot of players next to me."
-- Serena Williams's latest bid to equal Margaret Court's all-time Grand Slam singles record of 24 did not even get into first gear and indeed ended with the 39-year-old "heartbroken."
Williams will not wish her tear-filled farewell to the Centre Court crowd, after she injured herself slipping early in her first round match with Aliaksandra Sasnovich, to be how she is remembered on a stage where she has been crowned singles champion seven times.
Williams did not divulge much about the extent of the injury only that it was to her right leg and preferred to address her broader fan base.
"Feeling the extraordinary warmth and support of the crowd today when I walked on -- and off -- the court meant the world to me."
Falling over themselves
-- Williams's retirement came soon after Frenchman Adrian Mannarino ended his 33rd birthday not with a win over Roger Federer, which looked a possibility at one point, but instead having to concede he could not carry on having taken a tumble on Centre Court.
Others found it hard to keep their footing in the early rounds of the tournament. Novak Djokovic joked about how many tumbles he had taken in the first two rounds: "I seem to be having a really nice connection with the grass!"
The All England Club defended the state of the courts but many players were not convinced after two days of heavy rain.
Felix Auger-Aliassime said parts of the court were like "mud."
Fritz miraculous return
-- A heart-warming story was to be found in seeing the big-serving American Taylor Fritz turning up for his first round match.
Those who had seen the 23-year-old American exiting the French Open a month ago in a wheelchair would not have placed money on that being the case.
Wearing a black knee-support stocking was a small price to pay for a quick operation to have him fighting fit for the tournament.
"I'm positive this is the quickest anyone has ever returned to actual professional competition from this surgery," said Fritz.
He lasted a week and eventually bowed out in a four sets to fourth-seeded German Alexander Zverev 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) in the third round.
© 2021 AFP