Roger Alton Roger Alton

Spectator Sport: The return of women’s tennis

Well, did you pick out 21-year-old Petra Kvitova for the women’s title at Wimbledon? Me neither, though it shouldn’t have been that hard.

Well, did you pick out 21-year-old Petra Kvitova for the women’s title at Wimbledon? Me neither, though it shouldn’t have been that hard.

Well, did you pick out 21-year-old Petra Kvitova for the women’s title at Wimbledon? Me neither, though it shouldn’t have been that hard. She’s the world number seven, was a quarter-finalist at the Australian Open, and lost in the fourth round of the French to the eventual winner, Li Na. She was also a semi-finalist at Wimbledon last year. We have been so used to watching blank-eyed as a Williams sister grinds it out that the exceptional quality of the current women’s game has been easy to overlook. The grunting is appalling and the quality of some of the matches in early rounds wouldn’t cut the mustard at the local club, but there is talent all over the shop.

Marion Bartoli is as mad as a bag of ferrets, but she is marvellous to watch; Sabine Lisicki, another prodigiously gifted 21-year-old, should have forced out Maria Sharapova in the semis; and then there’s our own Laura Robson and Heather Watson, both of whom could make the last eight at Wimbledon soon. With any luck, we’re now in the period where a sport is at its most invigorating — when you have no idea what will happen next or who is going to win the slams. Uncertainty at last, how thrilling. Almost as surprising as Rory McIlroy’s new wet-look haircut.

The wonderful Novak Djokovic eschewed the traditional post-victory clamber over the seating to embrace Mum and Dad in favour of tucking into the Centre Court turf. Djoko is currently on a wheat-free diet. But since there’s a vegan competing in the Tour de France, one David Zabriskie, who must be eating a hell of a lot of leafy greens considering peloton cyclists need about 8,000 calories a day, maybe Djokovic, who’s as lean, fit and strong as a comic-book hero, knows something we don’t about what’s in the Wimbledon grass.

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