Roger Alton

Cricket, tennis and the Women’s World Cup: what a summer 

Mary Fowler of Australia shoots at goal during the FIFA Women's World Cup, 20 July 2023 (Getty Images)

Great sport needs great rivalries, and that is why anyone with a pulse must celebrate being in the throes of an unrivalled confluence of extraordinary sporting occasions right now. As commentators grind on about what a bad place the world is in – ignoring the far worse places the world has been in over the years – a few hours spent watching the magnificent Wimbledon final between Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic is just the sort of high-octane thriller we all need, as well as a ringing endorsement of the qualities of man.

And now there is the fourth Ashes Test of a brutally close series, and the closing stages of a magnificent Tour de France where Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar have been just a spoke-length apart as they pursue each other up what looks like the side of buildings, so steep are the climbs. The Dane has produced the performance of his life to steal a margin that should seal the yellow jersey. 

Alcaraz looks set to dominate for a long time. Could he even beat Federer’s record?

The final did much to rescue what was a pretty indifferent Wimbledon. Maybe that doesn’t matter: after all, it is a British summer event more than a tennis tournament, with the BBC quite happy to use a slow-motion shot of a cork popping out of a champagne bottle as part of its highlights reel. The crowd laughs at a mis-hit sending the ball into the air, or when some idiot calls out ‘Come on Rafa’ as Djokovic is about to serve. Hilarious. Still – what a final. It’s a pity you have to be royal, Brad Pitt or the CEO of something to actually be there.

It was a changing of the guard.

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