Thousands camped out overnight for ground passes. There were rain delays and upsets aplenty. Scandalous tabloid headlines spotlighted the private lives of the top pros and spectators from everywhere roamed the hallowed grounds after s sip of Pimms or a taste of strawberries and cream, no doubt wondering which of the surviving players would walk away with this year’s titles.
Week 1 at Wimbledon ended Saturday with top-ranked pros Novak Djokovic and defending Serena Williams on course to be the last man and woman standing when the fortnight ends over the weekend. Djokovic, the 2011 champion moved into the fourth round, defeating France’s Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in a near flawless performance. He committed only three unforced errors, hit 38 winners and won 93% of his first serves.
“That was incredible,” Djokovic said. ” I enjoyed every moment of it. When everything works well, it’s a fantastic feeling. “Djokovic’s path to the title was made easier due to the early departures of French Open champion Rafael Nadal and seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer.
With the roof closed and playing under the lights, Williams made quick work of Japan’s Kimiko Date 6-2, 6-0 in the final match in a bit more than an hour. “It’s unbelievable playing on Centre Court under the roof and the lights,” Williams, said of the calm conditions. “It doesn’t get any better. Playing indoors on grass for me is like amazing.”
Before the tournament began, ESPN analyst John McEnroe anointed Williams as the game’s greatest woman pro and a shoo-in to win her sixth Wimbledon crown. “I don’t see a weakness,” McEnroe said. “Her serve is the best serve in the history of women’s tennis by far.”
ESPN Chris Evert was not as confident. “I would be surprised (if Williams loses),” she said. “Trust me, nothing is set in stone. It’s a two-week tournament. I don’t care what anybody says, when you get to be 28, 30, 31 and you’ve played 10, 12, 15 years on the tour, there are days that it isn’t there. There are days your body is not working. There days you’d rather not be out there. You’d rather be in bed, not get out of bed.”
Williams was 22 and heavily favorite to win her third consecutive title in 2004 Wimbledon, but had an especially bad day, losing in a major upset to Russia’s Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-4 in the final. Though Sharapova was among this year’s crop of Week 1 upsets, a more savvy Williams says she’s not taking any player lightly, including today’s fourth round opponent, Sabine Lisicki of Germany.
“Every time I go out there I feel like anything can happen,” Williams said. “I don’t feel invulnerable. More than anything, that keeps me motivated.”