Wimbledon: The Proving Ground

The Wimbledon Championships contested in Wimbledon, London, is the oldest and most prestigious of all tennis tournaments. It’s considered the great, great, great grandaddy of them all.

Of the four Majors, or slams, Wimbledon is the only one still played on grass, grass having been the original surface on which all tennis was contested. Fittingly, the game then was called “lawn tennis.”

This 2012 edition will mark the 135th year the tournament will be played at the All England Club.

Any event of significance having been staged for 134 years is undoubtedly steeped in tradition.

Wimbledon is more than a tournament. It is the tournament. It is the tradition. And it is the genesis of all that has followed, including the Australian, French, and US Opens, the other three slams.

There isn’t a professional tennis player alive that at some time during development from beginner, to junior, to pro, hasn’t dreamed of winning Wimbledon.

There is no greater win than to hoist the Wimbledon trophy.

It’s the ultimate prize.

For most, the dream will never come to fruition. Contentment for them will come from just having their names appear in the draw, for having played a match, though a losing one, for simply having participated. That’s how powerful, weighty and mystical Wimbledon is.

For two weeks the courts of  the All England Club will become much more than tennis courts. They will be reduced to battle grounds on which sporting war will be waged.

In the end, one man and one woman will each be presented a handsome sum of money along with a glistening vestige of proof of the ultimate achievement–Wimbledon champion.

For them both monetary gain and trophy acquisition will be transcended by enshrinement into the annals of Wimbledon tennis history. Their names will join those of past champions, men and women who dared to dream, fought tenaciously and made that dream reality.

In just a few hours now, the quest will begin.

Six time Wimbledon champion, 16 time singles slam titlist, “The maestro,” Roger Federer, will try to win the crown for the seventh time.

“The Soldier,” Rafael Nadal who made shambles of the clay court season which culminated with his seventh French Open title, will be working to add a 12th singles slam title.

Novak Djokovic, the defending champion, who in 2011 arguably had the greatest single season of any player ever, will seek to repeat.

Andy Murray will try to become the first British male to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936. That’s a very long drought.

In addition to having the physical tools to win, Murray now has eight-time slam winner, Ivan Lendl as coach. That’s got to help.

If Murray were to win, he would quite possibly be ordained a saint or at least knighted for delivering England from the depths of tennis despair.

I vividly remember the strained appearance of Tim Henman during his years of desperately trying to win the title. It was an enormous burden to shoulder. But he bore it with grace and as much tenacity as could be mustered.

A part of me will root for Murray. 76 years is just too freaking long for England to agonize without having a winner.

Realistically, from America, only John Isner appears to have any chance to win this thing without some sort of divine intervention.

There’s a very short list of other males that have the physical attributes and weaponry necessary to win. For those, belief and a little luck is the key.

On the women’s side, based on results of the last few years, I can say with absolute certainty, I don’t have a clue. Maybe anybody can win, I guess, maybe. But for sure, some woman will.

Of course I still believe Serena Williams is the best player in the field but strange occurrences seem to permeate women’s tennis at this time in history. It could be that they are all very good players that are simply evenly matched. Or it might be a period of transition in which there are ascendant players that are just not yet dominant.

I dunno.

I do know that Wimbledon is the tournament every professional player most wants to win. But to do it, he and she must prove they can.

Wimbledon isn’t just any tournament, it’s the most coveted prize, the towering achievement.

Wimbledon is the proving ground.


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