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Wimbledon: 25 June - 8 July 2012

126th Championships Review

by Ronald Atkin
Monday 9 July 2012

The most significant fact to emerge from the 2012 Championships was that both The Gentlemen's and Ladies' Champions, Roger Federer and Serena Williams, were over 30 years old. Federer, who matched the all-time record of William Renshaw and Pete Sampras by collecting his seventh Gentlemen’s Singles title, will celebrate his 31st birthday in August, while Miss Williams, who reaches the age of 31 a month later, drew level with her older sister Venus by triumphing for a fifth time.

There were those who dismissed both Federer and Serena as being too old to repeat their previous successes at The Championships. How wrong they were! The manner in which they both played at the tournament's climax indicated they might be back again in 12 months' time with serious intent to win yet again.

Federer, who had gone more than 28 months since his last Grand Slam success (at the Australian Open of 2010) not only extended his record total of major singles titles to 17 but regained the world No.1 ranking from Novak Djokovic by defeating Andy Murray 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.

It was a tense and highly emotional occasion in which the last two sets were played, for the first time at a Gentlemen's Singles final, under the cover of the Centre Court roof. Murray was the first British man to contest the final for 74 years, since Bunny Austin lost to Don Budge in 1938, and was also hoping to overturn another long-standing mark, that of Fred Perry, the last British man to win the Wimbledon title in 1936, 76 years ago.

Although Perry's record will stand for at least another year, there were moments when Murray looked capable of eclipsing Perry's achievement, before Federer settled to produce the sort of brilliant tennis which has made him the most successful male player of all time. Before he broke down at the prize-giving ceremony, Murray managed to say "I'm getting closer", and he is. Perhaps next year, Andy, when all of Britain will again be willing him on in the marvellous fashion they did this time.

Miss Williams's story was more dramatic even than that of Federer's. She arrived at The Championships having gone out in the first round at the French Open and after a year of determined recovery from injury and grave illness which not only might have terminated her career but could also have killed her.

However, there was no sign of anything but confidence as, seeded sixth, she burst through the field on a record torrent of aces as she gradually came to terms with her best form to defeat Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 in the final. Despite her loss, it was also a memorable day for Radwanska, the first from Poland to reach a Wimbledon final in the Open era. Had she won, she would also have become the first from that country to be a world No.1.

There were, as ever, shocks along the way to the tournament's climax. The most profound one in the Gentlemen's draw was the second round defeat of Rafael Nadal, the second seed, by the Czech, Lukas Rosol, ranked 100th. Rosol served as he had never served before to eliminate the Champion of 2008 and 2010 in five sets before going out in the next round.

In the Ladies' draw it was the exit of the No.1 seed and world's top-ranked player, Maria Sharapova, which caused the biggest ripples, a fourth round victim of the hard-hitting German, Sabine Lisicki. In fact, it was an excellent Championships for Germany, since they had two competitors in the quarter--finals of both Singles draws for the first time. Angelique Kerber joined Lisicki in the last eight, defeating her compatriot at that stage only to go on to a semi-final loss to Radwanska, while Rosol's conqueror, Philipp Kohlschreiber, joined Florian Mayer in the last eight of the Gentlemen's draw.

There was a golden moment for Britain in the Gentlemen's Doubles when Sheffield's Jonathan Marray teamed with Frederik Nielsen of Denmark as a wild card entry to capture the title by defeating Robert Lindstedt of Sweden and Romania's Horia Tecau 4-6, 6-4, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 after having pulled off the victory of a lifetime in the semi-finals over the famed American twins, Mike and Bob Bryan in four sets. Marray became the first Briton to win the Gentlemen's Doubles title since Pat Hughes and Raymond Tuckey in 1936.

The Ladies' Doubles Championship was a stroll for Serena and Venus Williams, who saw off the Czech pair, Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka 7-5, 6-4 after defeating the top seeds, Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond in a three-set semi-final. That title was consolation for Venus Williams' first round loss in the Singles.

In the Mixed Doubles there was consolation, too, for Mike Bryan in partnership with Lisa Raymond as second seeds. They defeated the fourth seeds, Leander Paes of India and Elena Vesnina of Russia 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.

In the Junior events, Canada's Eugenie Bouchard was triumphant in both Girls' singles and doubles, defeating Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine 6-2, 6-2 and then teaming up with Taylor Townsend of the United States to beat Belinda Bencic of Switzerland and Ana Konjuh (Croatia) 6-4, 6-3. The Boys' singles champion also came from Canada, with Filip Peliwo overturning the defending champion, Luke Saville of Australia 7-5, 6-4. The doubles, however, went to an Australian pair, Andrew Harris and Nick Kyrgios, who beat the Italians, Matteo Donati and Pietro Licciardi, 6-2, 6-3.

The total attendance for The Championships 2012 was 484,805.

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