Sunday, June 13, 2010


Whew! That’s Over.
Wipe off the French Open clay and wash your whites, because we’re on the way to London's All English Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, home of The Championships at Wimbledon.

Unless you tennis fans have been living in a deep pocket in your tennis bag, you know that Francesca Schiavone and Rafael Nadal won the French Open. Next stop-Wimbledon.This is the link to the tournament website:

For some, Wimbledon is THE Grand Slam of the year. Perhaps because of its tradition and its dress code—all white attire. For me, this is a relief from Venus Williams’s can-can dress (see Euwww La La below) and the slovenly attire now worn by the men (See The Good, Bad and the Ugly) on this site. One thing that won't be traditional are rained-out matches because there is now a roof over centre court.

As I was saying, Wimbledon  may be appealing because, in addition to the the whites,  it’s played on a surface that most people don't play on -- grass. That makes it somewhat exotic to American fans. There aren’t many grass courts outside of expensive clubs that have the money to maintain them. The Philadelphia Cricket Club (very expensive) near me has 8 or more grass courts, beautifully maintained. Germantown Racket Club also has several grass courts, although not as green as Philadelphia Cricket.

How many of you have ever played on grass? It’s a unique experience. Unlike on hard courts, the ball doesn’t bounce toward you. And unlike clay, it doesn’t bounce high. On grass, you have to scramble like crazy because when the ball bounces, it seems to just die. If you have never played on grass, but have been just dying to try it, you may be disappointed, as I was, if your wish comes true.
But back to Wimbledon. Last year’s men’s final was exciting. Who could forget the battle between Andy Roddick and Roger Federer?  The match ended with a 30-game, fifth set thriller that took forever to end. (Nadal, who had won in 2008, withdrew in 2009 because of injury.) Serena Williams won easily over her sister Venus, 7-6, 6-2, in what was yet another yawn of their matches. Well, that’s old news.

What’s on the court for 2010? The seeds won’t be announced until June 16 and they usually go by rank. That would put Serena in the #1 spot. It’s a little more difficult for the men. When he won this year's French Open, Rafael Nadal wrested the #1 ranking from Roger Federer. But, just as Nadal is the “King of Clay,” Roger Federer is the Prime Minister of grass. The seeding will be important because it sets the foundation for the draw, which determines whether the path ahead will be bumpy with difficult competitors, or smooth with players who are not very challenging.
One of the most interesting story lines on the women’s side is none other than Justine Henin. Wimbledon is why she dragged herself out of her nearly two-year retirement., She has won every other major BUT Wimbledon. And she wants to win it now. (What player doesn’t want to win it?) With four French Open wins, she was once the “Queen” of clay, but was bounced out of the French Open by Australian Samantha Stosur (above left), who herself was overtaken in the final by Francesa Schiavone of Italy (above,with trophy). This may indicate that Henin is beatable on any surface, especially grass. She is scheduled to play next week in the UNICEF Open, a grass court event that is considered a “tune up” for Wimbledon. It will be played in Rosamolen, Netherlands, June 13-19. Keep an eye on this one; it may tell you something about what’s ahead across the pond.

(I've written about Wimbledon before. See my articles about last year's Wimbledon, "Wimbledon From the Armchair," in my Tennis Week archive, at left.)