Waltzing into Wimbledon — Pre-Wimby Quotes — Must-click women’s tennis links

The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, June 28, 2022

Happy Tennis Tuesday, y’all, but importantly, HAPPY WIMBLEDON!

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Growing up, I adored waking up at 5am to catch the opening matches and have it running all hours of the day. Nowadays, I don’t watch as much, but the passion and love for the tournament is still there. However, the Russia-Ukraine war leading to exclusion of Russian and Belarussian players — and as a result, ranking points — is a big conversation starter in tennis. Like I talked about with the US Open in 2020, does this tournament have an asterisk? Of course not because most of the majority of players are here, but this time it feels a bit different because of the circumstances. Nobody wins in this scenario, but it was the right call.

As for the women’s draw, obviously reigning champion Ashleigh Barty is retired and enjoying her golf, so one of the questions was “who will open Center Court on Tuesday?” Three names came to pretty much the majority’s mind: Iga Swiatek, Simona Halep and Serena Williams, all for different reasons. Swiatek because she’s destroying the WTA, Halep because COVID stripped her of her 2020 walkout and she was injured in 2021, and Serena because she’s Serena. Wimbledon did it wrong today by having Swiatek take the Tuesday honors. Apparently Halep’s withdrawal last week in Bad Homburg swayed officials enough to avoid a schedule change. However, Barty’s coach Craig Tyzzer alluded to the fact that Barty requested Halep walk out:

Perhaps the biggest story in the women’s draw is Serena Williams, who’s making her singles comeback a year after tearing her hamstring on Center Court and retiring in her opening match. Honestly, as much of a fan as I am, I still am surprised that she’s come back. I certainly hope for Slam No. 24, but with how mum she’s been in press and all of her activities and ventures off-court, the end is very much near. However, the reps she got in doubles in Eastbourne last week got better with each set and I’m hopeful for a second week showing. Working with sister Venus’ coach Eric Hechtman after a decade with Patrick Mouratoglou does bring a sense of dedication to the table. My heart says she’s going to come through and win it all, but my brain can’t move past a potential fourth round matchup against Coco Gauff. We’ll have to see.

But speaking of Venus, some breaking news about her own comeback:

If there’s someone who enjoys a good prediction, it’s Jon Wertheim. Yes, play has already started, but his Seeds Report is always a highlight for me. Now, for my predictions made pre-tournament:

Round of 16
(1) Iga Swiatek def. Ajla Tomljanovic
Bianca Andreescu def. (30) Shelby Rogers
(25) Petra Kvitova def. (16) Simona Halep
(11) Coco Gauff def. Serena Williams
(28) Alison Riske def. Caroline Garcia
(3) Ons Jabeur def. (15) Angelique Kerber
(12) Jelena Ostapenko def. (5) Maria Sakkari
(14) Belinda Bencic def. (2) Anett Kontaveit

(1) Iga Swiatek def. Bianca Andreescu
(25) Petra Kvitova def. (11) Coco Gauff
(3) Ons Jabeur def. (28) Alison Riske
(12) Jelena Ostapenko def. (14) Belinda Bencic

(1) Iga Swiatek def. (25) Petra Kvitova
(3) Ons Jabeur def. (12) Jelena Ostapenko

(1) Iga Swiatek def. (3) Ons Jabeur

Swiatek is a former Wimbledon junior champion and she’s lightyears better than she was in 2018. She downplays her prowess on grass, but she’s beyond athletic and has the confidence to win a second consecutive Grand Slam. I expect some early round upsets to open up for some surprise — or not-so-surprise — semifinalists. Expect to see Jabeur go deep though, learning from the pressure leading to her opening round defeat at Roland Garros. Her game is tailormade for the lawns of SW19 and sitting at a career-high of No. 2, is due for something grand.

Just don’t drag me when I bat .100, please. Now, onto links!

This Week in Women’s Tennis

Your week’s must-read is Greg Garber’s profile on Peachy Kellmeyer, the WTA’s first employee who had more significant impact than just on the tennis court.

TW: sexual harassment

Former World No. 2 Andrea Jaeger discussed how in the past, she would throw matches because of the pressure, but she recently revealed that she was harassed by a WTA staff member throughout her career and one time she was unknowingly given alcohol as a minor.

At the Rothesay International, Petra Kvitova claimed WTA title No. 29 with a straight-sets win over Jelena Ostapenko. Aleksandra Krunic and Magda Linette won the doubles title with consecutive walkovers due to opponents’ injuries.

Kirsten Flipkens, a 2013 Wimbledon semi-finalist, is saying goodbye at this year’s tournament — but only for singles. Expect to see the Belgian on the doubles court at least through the North American hardcourt swing.

Caroline Garcia roared back from a set and break down against Bianca Andreescu to win the Bad Homberg Open. Eri Hozumi and Makoto Ninomiya downed Alicija Rosolska and Erin Routliffe to win their third title of the year — conveniently all the week before a Grand Slam.

The LIV Golf tour could be branching out to women’s tennis. Saudi Arabia is looking into investing in professional action in the country, but like I mentioned a few weeks ago, the WTA shouldn’t align with any country with poor human ethics.

Zendaya has been spotted filming her tennis film Challengers:

Of all of the Grand Slam main draw debutants, my favorite is Five at The IX alum Catherine Harrison. The UCLA grad snuck into qualifying of a Slam for the first time and won her three matches to secure a berth on the big stage. A close second is Maja Chwalinska, who announced a break after the 2021 championships due to depression, grinded her way through some tough matches to get her biggest breakthrough.

In college tennis news, 2021 NCAA champion Emma Navarro is turning professional after going 55-3 in her first two seasons, as are University of Texas players Maribella and Allura Zamarripa. Also, Miami coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews talked the impact Title IX had on her growing up and in her career.

Bianca Andreescu is no stranger to making her own music on the court, but it’s the kind off-court that is turning heads.

I was in a random Google hole with Wimbledon when I came across this recent news about former Top 100 player Elena Pampoulova-Bergomi being convicted of money laundering while working at Credit Suisse. She received a a 20-month suspended prison sentence. Her £1.7m fine was also suspended.

Tweet of the Week

Billie Jean. Title IX. What more could you need?

Five at The IX: Pre-Wimbledon Pressers

Q. Do you think the final is in your reach like it was in Paris? Do you have any thoughts about the Supreme Court decision yesterday in the US?

COCO GAUFF: The first question, yeah, I mean, every tournament I go into I believe that I can win it. I think obviously having the good success these last couple weeks, especially at French Open, I think it builds my confidence even more for that.

The second, to answer the second question, yeah, I put a tweet out. I’m obviously disappointed about the decision made. Really for me, obviously I feel bad for future women and women now, but I also feel bad for those who protested for this, I don’t even know how many years ago, but protested for this, are alive to see that decision to be reversed.

I just think that history repeating itself. I feel like, I mean, at least from my reading, researching, because I do like history, I just feel like just having this decision reversed, I feel like we’re almost going backwards.

Not only does this decision kind of mark regarding reproductive rights, I feel like it also kind of puts a lead-way into maybe reverse other things that we worked — I wouldn’t say me personally, but people in the past worked so hard to reverse.

But I still want to encourage people to use their voice and not feel too discouraged about this because we can definitely make a change, and hopefully change will happen.

Q. Just wondering what the experience of Eastbourne taught you about your kind of state of readiness. How different is it, the sparring session you had yesterday on Centre Court, to playing doubles with Ons?

SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, Eastbourne was a good experience. I went into this saying, you know, I’d play Eastbourne. I would never be ready for singles, I’ll just kind of play doubles and see how I felt. Definitely probably could have played singles there.

But the doubles was great. Played with Ons, who has been playing well. And it was good. I felt more prepared than I thought I would like a month or two months or three months ago. Way, way more. So it was kind of surprising, but also it’s just a fun time, just to be out there and to enjoy it. I don’t know, just to be out on the court again was cool.

Q. There are some figures are coming out which show a surge of interest in Londoners as a result of you winning the US Open. How do you feel about inspiring a new generation of youngsters to pick up their racquets?

EMMA RADUCANU: Yeah, it is a really nice feeling just to think that some youngsters might pick up tennis because they’ve watched me or what I did. That’s always something that I wanted to do, is to inspire the younger generation.

To see those players come through, especially maybe some of the younger girls who might feel like they’re really shy or they don’t want to play with the boys, I can totally relate to that because I’ve been there. I went through that myself. I was really shy. I was clinging onto the fence. I didn’t want to go on the court.

But, yeah, it just opens up so many opportunities. I definitely grew a lot as a person just playing tennis, more confidence. Yeah, sport definitely just opens up a lot of opportunities for young people.

Q. One of the stories of the tournament is the comeback of Serena Williams obviously. I just want to know what your opinion is of her comeback, what you think she’s capable of? Second, I saw you practice on Centre Court yesterday. She was next to you. You both were very focused. Just want to know how is your relationship?

IGA SWIATEK: Well, when I saw her yesterday, I was pretty, like, overwhelmed, you know (smiling). I felt like I am still, I don’t know, kind of new on WTA. I didn’t know how to react perfectly. I wanted to meet her.

I saw that she had so many people around her. I don’t know her team. It was pretty weird. So, yeah, I came back to, like, myself few years earlier when I was too shy to say hi to anybody for a second.

But I feel that, you know, just seeing her around is great because she’s such a legend, there’s nobody that has done so much in tennis.

Yeah, I mean, I don’t know honestly about tennis because it’s pretty hard to say. I haven’t practiced with her, so I don’t know how it feels. Honestly, I’ve never played against her, so I don’t have even comparison. I can only say what I see on the screen. That’s not a lot.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure that she’s going to be in good shape because she has so much experience coming back from breaks or just playing on Grand Slams. I think she can use it.

Q. You said this year Wimbledon was the goal. Has that always been the goal? Is this the one you dreamed of?

ONS JABEUR: I don’t know. I have a feeling about this one for some reason. Wimbledon has always like a special place in my heart.

Before it was the French Open because it was always close to Tunisia, I grew up playing on clay a lot. But grass, I usually play football, not tennis (smiling).

I mean, it’s amazing. What I experienced last year, the emotions on Centre Court, everything that happened, I think it became a dream. I wish I can have that dream one day.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Joey Dillon