- GOP hopes taking shutdown off the table with budget deal will pay dividends
- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
A star is born, another is reborn at Wimbledon
WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND (AP) - Not a bad day’s work for women’s tennis. In new Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, it has a new star. In runner-up Maria Sharapova, it has a star reborn. And Serena Williams showed on these lawns she is several steps down the comeback trail, too. So just why, exactly, were so many people so down not so long ago about the state of the women’s game?
Kvitova’s first major title won’t be her last.
She cracks forehands and backhands like Indiana Jones’ whip. Her left-handed serve, particularly when thumped down out wide, is as slippery as snakes in soapsuds for righties like Sharapova to grab hold of. Kvitova showed the same brand of fearlessness that Sharapova wowed Centre Court with as an insouciant 17-year-old champion in 2004. The wavy-haired blonde from the Czech Republic is the complete tennis package, with the cool-under-pressure poise that allows champions to convert mere opportunities into actual trophies.
“I don’t think this is the only time she’ll win here,” said 18-time major winner Martina Navratilova. “It’s very exciting. A new star.”
Since the Open era began in 1968, most women _ two-thirds, to be precise _ have lost their first Grand Slam final.
Kvitova, whose previous Grand Slam best was a Wimbledon semifinal last year, looked at home on the unfamiliar stage. Nerves and over-hit forehands cost Kvitova her first service game. But those in the crowd who wondered whether she might simply wilt from that point quickly got their answer when Kvitova immediately broke back.
“And serving it out with an ace, now that’s fashion,” said Martina Hingis, the 1997 champion.
Sharapova studied the runner’s-up trophy with a detached, half-interested air.
“Obviously, I would have wanted that big one,” the Russian said.
Well, perhaps next time. That can be said with more, although not absolute, confidence now. But it would not have been said a year ago. Then, it seemed that the former No. 1 might never recapture the strength she lost when her right shoulder first started creaking like an ungreased cog in 2007 and then ultimately failed her in 2008.
She had a cortisone shot to get her through the 2007 French Open, where “I basically played without a shoulder,” and anti-inflammatories and 2 1/2 hours of treatment each day _ acupuncture, massage, ice, “you name it, I do it,” she said _ at Wimbledon that year.
She went on an 18-match winning streak after winning the 2008 Australian Open. But the shoulder problems returned with a vengeance not long after she lost in the second round of Wimbledon that year, her earliest Grand Slam exit since her first full season on tour in 2003. She couldn’t play at the Beijing Olympics, nor at the U.S. Open. The medical verdict: not only had she torn the rotator cuff tendon that helps to stabilize the shoulder but had been playing with the injury for months.
From there, it has been a long and winding road back. Ten weeks of shoulder rehab in Arizona with similarly injured pitchers and quarterbacks didn’t stop the pain, so she had surgery. At that point, many others might have given up. Not Sharapova. With her semifinal this year at Roland Garros and, now, her second Wimbledon final, she’s undeniably back.
For athletes who once felt invincible, injury confronts them with their own vulnerability. It can make confident world beaters more timid. There is the shock of discovering that while they are sidelined, the sport they once ruled carries on without them and, sometimes, depression for those, like Sharapova, who can’t be sure how quickly they will heal.
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- House votes for bargain to end budget drama
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- Jane Fonda Foundation fails to make single contribution in 5 years: report
- Atheists smug as Hindus join Satanists to demand display at Oklahoma Statehouse
- U.S. debt jumps a record $328 billion tops $17 trillion for first time
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Covering the world of soccer, including the World Cup, Major League Soccer, D.C. United and the English Premier League and other interesting sporting events.
Born in 1930 in rural Missouri, Charles Vandegriffe, Sr., brings his time and place to the Communities.
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow