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What the papers say

Serena Williams looks for some inspiration.
by Clive White
Wednesday 26 June 2013

However disappointed the reigning champion and No.1 seed Serena Williams may have been with her performance in her opening match of the Championships in which she defeated Luxembourg’s Mandy Minella for the loss of just four games – “I felt really upset when I lost my serve in the second set”, she said – some, like Jim White in The Daily Telegraph, were still impressed with both her performance and, particularly, her appearance.

“Throughout the match, her game looked as thoughtfully put together as her outfit,” he writes. “With her hair bunched up in an expansive piece of topiary, Williams arrived on court with an orange theme to her wardrobe. Her nails, her hair tie, her undershorts and the Nike flash on her shoes were all coordinated in a matching tone of peach.”

Giles Smith in The Times loved her sense of drama and posture. “Of course, this was Williams, meaning that, even during a routine overhauling, you still got the cloudy anger, the sense of an apocalyptic storm about to break, the dark moments of self-composure with her back to the court – not to mention the bringing of the thumb and forefinger of one hand to the temples in operatic despair, a gesture not often seen outside Pre-Raphaelite paintings.

“There is no greater player on the women’s circuit, no better creator of drama and no one, surely, who you would rather be watching at any moment.”


It seemed as if everyone in Britain was watching Laura Robson despatch the No.10 seed Maria Kirilenko, of Russia, from the Prime Minister David Cameron to former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash. Both were tweeting, according to Simon Briggs in The Daily Telegraph.

“Just watched a future top 5 and I think a slam winner Laura Robson crush 10th seed Kirilenko,” tweeted Cash. “This is the curse – and sometimes the blessing – of being a British tennis player,” says Briggs. “You can do almost anything around the world, and yet it does not fully seep into the national consciousness until you have replicated it at Wimbledon.”


James Lawton, of The Independent, watched Novak Djokovic come to the rescue of the men’s game after Rafael Nadal’s demise in his straight sets demolition of Germany’s Florian Mayer. Lawton writes: “Rafa has to remake himself once again. Federer once more has to ransack the last of his resources in pursuit of his 18th Grand Slam title. Murray, for all the progress that now includes the US Open title and an Olympic gold medal still has only one foot among the men who have shaped arguably the most compelling era the game has known.

“It meant that there were moments in the bright sunshine yesterday when it was impossible not to believe that Djokvoic suddenly held the whole of the game in the palm of one withering powerful hand.”

Simon Barnes, in The Times, thought Djokovic was the very embodiment of the modern tennis superstar. “There were times watching him at his lethal work yesterday, that you could fancy you heard not the swish of the latest zingarillium-fibre racket but the sizzle and crack of a lightsaber. This is tennis of the very latest kind: perfectly minted and tuned for today.

“Even his appearance is pared-down and apparently the result of smart no-frills technology: controlled movement, tennis clothes that are just clothes, no headband (so retro) and a zero-maintenance haircut. He has gone some way not just to being but to looking the perfect tennis machine.”


Alyson Rudd postulates in The Times whether a tuft of hair might come between Maria Sharapova and her new beau Grigor Dimitrov, but she was obviously impressed with the overall package that the Bulgarian presented in his stylish defeat of Italy’s Simone Bolelli. “The man dating Sharapova was famous before dating her for playing in the style of Roger Federer – “Baby Fed” they called him,” she writes. “Was this, too, a myth to be exposed in the first round? Thankfully not. The world needs more players such as Federer and in Dimitrov we have one, with a graceful and deadly one-handed backhand.

“It helped that Bolelli was out of sorts. The 27-year-old appeared slightly cross, as if wondering why Dimitrov had chosen to be a Federer tribute act instead of a Michael McIntyre impersonator. The Italian, by contrast, looked somehow dated with his baseball cap back to front and his earring and quirky logos. Dimitov was all smooth lines, smooth skin and perfect hair. Except for a tuft of fringe that escaped from time to time.

“If Sharapova notices the tuft, will it be the end of their relationship? It can happen that way – a small imperfection becoming a gargantuan obstacle to happiness.”


Nick Bollettieri, the American coach, in his column in The Independent seemed horrified at Boris Becker’s suggestion that Rafael Nadal should never return to Wimbledon because of his fitness issues. He writes: “Boris Becker said he should never play here again. I said: ‘Boris - what? Never play Wimbledon again? Man alive you cannot be serious?’ For Nadal not to play on grass again would take away any consideration that he could be thought of as one of the best ever.

“Unless the injury is so serious I don’t think he will give up coming here. That would be a big call and if he does that it has to change where he stands in the game’s history. No Wimbledon and it’s a new ball game. And he’s won Wimbledon so he can do it here. He has to come back.”


Steve Tongue, in The Independent, says the 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm – the oldest player in the ladies draw – encapsulate just how far the woman’s game has come in her defeat of Germany’s Carina Witthoeft; the Women’s Tennis Association is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary. “In September 1970, the first Virginia Slims tournament was played by a small group of women protesting at inequality in pay under the slogan ‘You’ve come a long way, baby’,” writes Tongue. “The same month Kimiko Date – now Date-Krumm since her marriage to the German racing driver Michael Krumm – was born in Kyoto; and no player of either sex has come further.”


Ivan Speck, in The Daily Mail, gets to the bottom of Philipp Kohlschreiber’s unexpected retirement against Croatia’s Ivan Dodig in their first-round match. The German had led by two sets to love but after being back to all square retired at 2-1 down in the fifth, complaining of flu. “I felt like my body was really responding badly at the end and I had no energy left in my body,” said Kohlschreiber.

Speck quotes Kohlschreiber as saying: “Maybe it was bad timing – and it’s hard to speak about it because this was the best Grand Slam I played last year – but I’m the one who is really, whatever you want to call it, angry or sad about the situation. But there’s nothing you can do about it.”

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