We are rapidly heading towards the point of the year where Wimbledon takes over UK TV screens. Currently, the WTA and ATP tours are finishing up their stints on the orange clay, with the French Open still to come, but attention has already turned to the highlight of the grass court season (and arguably the entire tennis-related year). This year, there are no less than three women with everything to fight for heading into Wimbledon, and no Serena Williams to dominate, it couldn’t really be a more interesting battle all set to take place under the Centre Court roof.
I’m still not really sure where I fall in terms of reaction to Maria’s comeback. I tend to fall on the side that she probably wasn’t intentionally trying to cheat when she failed the drug test last year, but I also do think she hasn’t shown the contrition we might expect from someone returning from a drugs ban. However, the frisson of tension that her return has brought has really spiced up some of the recent tournament. The Bouchard/Sharapova match that played out recently would not have been so interesting if there hadn’t been beef between the two players.
Now, Maria has failed to gain entry to the French Open and has agreed to accept her qualifying spot in Wimbledon without applying for a wildcard to the main draw. She’ll have to fight to get into the main draw with the rest of the players, and will have additional matches under her belt (for better or worse) if she makes it. Does she have the fitness to complete a full fortnight of competition? Or will she even make it through qualifying at Roehampton?
I can’t say I was really a fan of Azarenka before she dropped out of the sport for a knee injury and then extended her leave to start a family. The screeching, you know? But she’s a good player and one of the few that could really challenge Serena and get under her skin. I do approve of an athlete that takes maternity leave and opts to come back, and it’s great that the sport allows her to keep her sixth place ranking if she returns within a year.
I really think it will be interesting to see what she can achieve. Others have returned from having children and been super successful, but we will soon find out if Azarenka’s Wimbledon target is too soon, or if she’s ready to return to the top.
It was horrifying to hear what happened to Kvitova – attacked with a knife in her own home, and suffering injuries that have kept her out of the sport for months. But she has been nothing but inspirational about the whole thing. No doubt shaken initially, she took only a day or two before issuing statements that said she would do everything within her power to come back.
I haven’t been following her progress closely, but saw a picture a few weeks ago of her holding a racquet and training, and I felt gladdened. Now she has targeted a Wimbledon return as well, and it will be nothing short of wonderful to see her back on the grass court she loves so much.
Three incredible athletes all on the comeback trail, with everything to prove and a wide open draw that means anything could happen. It’s so exciting!