Wimbledon is somewhat like the Masters. It’s steeped in tradition (BERRIES AND CREAM) and a color palette of purple and green that is as identifiable as the Kelly green and gold of Augusta National. The event is also marked by its air of privilege and exclusivity that rivals America’s Butler Cabin. Not everyone can get into the All-England Club, you know.
However, the upturned nose of Wimbledon was broken during the lead up to the tournament when Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams added what should have been another chapter to Bomani Jones’ #SHADE series.
Coming off her win at the French Open, Serena was profiled in Rolling Stone where she dropped an IED (implied explosive device) on Sharapova and her boyfriend without exactly naming the two:
She begins every interview with, ‘I’m so happy. I’m so lucky.’ It’s so boring. She’s still not going to be invited to the cool parties. And, hey, if she wants to be with the guy with a black heart, go for it.
That quote is very personal when you consider that Sharapova’s boyfriend, Grigor Dimitrov, is rumored to have been linked to Serena. Shortly after the profile was released by the magazine, Williams swiftly apologized for the comments made (including the ones she made surrounding the Steubenville, OH players on the local high school football team raping a classmate). Despite the public apology, Sharapova fired back with a few jabs during a press conference before Wimbledon.
On Williams’ new beau, Patrick Mouratoglou, whom she met through Dimitrov:
If she wants to talk about something person, maybe she should talk about her relationship and her boyfriend that was married and is getting a divorce and has kids.
On Williams’ commentary about the incidents in Steubenville:
I just think she should be talking about her accomplishments, her achievements, rather than everything else that’s just getting attention and controversy.
Also, a backhanded compliment for Williams:
She has so much in her life – many positives. And I think that’s what it should be about.
After the biting press conference, Williams took the time to apologize personally to Sharapova right before the first matches were set to begin. Yet many were starting to drool over the prospect of Williams and Sharapova meeting in the women’s final; most envisioning a gritty, intense match-up in one of the most staid venues of tennis. But as fate would have it, Sharapova was knocked out in the second round. One of a few tennis stars who would not step onto the perfectly manicured courts for a shot at the premiere Grand Slam prize. Speaking of which, what the hell is going on at Wimbledon?
Earlier in the week, Rafael Nadal fell short of expectations, again. Nadal, walking into Wimbledon as this year’s champion at Roland Garros, fell in the first round. It was the first time ever for the Spanish star to lose in the opening round of a Grand Slam tournament. His opponent, Belgian Steve Darcis, was ranked 135th in the world rankings. Side note: Darcis lost in the second round and was one of seven players to pull out of the tournament due to injury.
Also taking the fall? Roger Federer, who lost to 116th ranked Sergiy Stakhovsky as well as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Marin Cilic, John Isner and Victoria Azarenka, who were all affected by knee injuries. Caroline Wozniaki lost to Petra Cetkovska after two rounds of dominating play by Cetkovska.
The fallout from the fallout puts Andy Murray at an advantage to claim his first prize at Wimbledon and become the first Brit since Arthur Gore in 1936 to win the Gentlemen’s Singles title. The closest challenger to Murray’s aspirations is Novak Djokovic with his sights set on winning his second in three years as well as giving SportsCenter a slew of new Wayne Brady jokes.
On the women’s brackets, Serena also faces an easier path now that her #SHADE throwing partner is out of play. If Serena manages to make it all the way to the winner’s podium, this will be her 17th Grand Slam, an accomplishment that would get her one title closer to Martina Navratilova’s 18. While that may be exciting for Williams, the victory would probably be sweeter for her against one of her biggest rivals rather than, what could be, a reluctant challenger.