Following two weeks of dramatic action at the All England Club, the Ladies Singles tournament concluded on Saturday, 50 years after the first Open Era edition of Wimbledon took place
With many big casualties early on, as well as some fantastic stories throughout the tournament and some incredible matches, this proved to be the one of the most exciting editions in recent years and produced a more than worthy champion.
Angelique Kerber lost in the final two years ago, and had a poor 2017 season, though has rebounded incredibly well this season and ultimately dropped just one set on her way to a third Grand Slam title, with the 11th seed rocketing further up the rankings following her victory.
With the tournament now over, this piece will look back at some of the best moments and biggest surprises of what was a fun 12 days of Women’s tennis at SW19.
With the gap between those in the top ten and in the rest of the field now smaller than ever, there were naturally many great contests this tournament.
Though it was over in straight sets, one of the most entertaining matches was between eventual champion Kerber and 13th seed Daria Kasatkina in the last eight, with two fantastic shot makers giving the Centre Court crowd a treat last Tuesday, with the German eventually prevailing 6-3, 7-5. Later that day, the crowd were treated to another great battle, with eventual runner-up and 25th seed Serena Williams fighting from a set down to beat Camila Giorgi in a high-quality affair.
Other great matches throughout the tournament included Karolina Pliskova’s victory over Mihaela Buzarnescu in the third round, with the Czech rallying from a set and a break down to reach the second week for the first time, whilst Kiki Bertens prevailed 8-6 in the third set against Venus Williams also in the third round, though it was the contest at this stage between Simona Halep and Hsieh Su-Wei that perhaps proved to be the best of the Women’s tournament.
Halep, the world number one, was full of confidence following her French Open triumph just a few weeks before and was widely expected to progress through this match, though Hsieh is widely seen as one of the best shotmakers on tour and many thought she could cause the Romanian some trouble here. The first set was not easy, though Halep claimed it 6-3, but it was after that where the quality of the tennis truly came alight. Hsieh battled her way to a decider, and the former doubles number one thrilled the Court One crowd in the closing stages, rallying from 3-5 down and saving a match point to secure a 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 win- the biggest and perhaps the most memorable of her career.
Though WTA tennis has generally been open for quite a few seasons now, very few would have predicted how many upsets there would have been this year, with none of the top ten seeds making the quarterfinals.
Naturally, Hsieh’s win over Halep was one of the biggest upsets of the tournament, and Halep’s fellow French Open finalist fell even earlier, with Donna Vekic beating Sloane Stephens in the opening round. There were also early losses for the likes of Caroline Wozniacki, who fell to Ekaterina Makarova in the second round, and Elina Svitolina, who lost to Tatjana Maria in the first round, though perhaps the biggest upset was the loss of defending champion Garbine Muguruza, with her loss being the earliest for a defending Ladies champion since 1994.
Seeded third, many people picked the Spaniard to take the title once again, with Muguruza much more at ease in the past 12 months than she did following her first Major title at the French Open in 2016. Muguruza comfortably beat Naomi Broady in the first round, and was widely expected to comfortably get past Alison Van Uytvanck in the second round. However, despite dropping the first set, the Belgian was undeterred, and dominated the final two sets, dropping just three games in a superb performance to secure a 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 win on her way to the fourth round; this was just her second time in the second week at a Grand Slam, and her first since some bad injury issues over the past couple of seasons.
Though there was perhaps not one big breakthrough at this year’s edition of the tournament, there were some players who made some notable progress as they look to rise further up the rankings.
Perhaps one women who made a bigger breakthrough than any was Daria Kasatkina. Though she was the 14th seed, having steadily risen up the rankings the past few seasons, and reached her first Major quarterfinal at the French Open, the Russian was until now not considered a majorly strong grass court player. Despite that, wins over the likes of 17th seed Ashleigh Barty and Alison Van Uytvanck saw her reach the last eight, where an encouraging display against Kerber suggests should could be entertaining Wimbledon crowds for a long time.
Furthermore, Donna Vekic reached the second week at a slam for the first time. After bursting onto the scene so young, the Croatian struggled for a few season, but began to rise up the rankings last season. She was the Nottingham champion last year on grass, and a fourth round showing here suggests she could be a factor for many more seasons. On a different level, after five consecutive first round losses at the tournament, Julia Goerges reached her first major semifinal in her 42nd Grand Slam tournament, capping off the best 12 months of her career.
Whilst early exits for the likes of Caroline Wozniacki, Elina Svitolina, and Caroline Garcia were disappointing, the early exit of US Open champion Sloane Stephens was perhaps the most disappointing result for one of the big seeds.
Seeded fourth, Stephens has looked back near her best after a difficult few months following her Flushing Meadows title, with a title at the Miami Open and a French Open final pushing her to career high ranking. Though her opening round match at the All England Club against Donna Vekic was a tricky one on paper, it was one she was expected to win. However, the American won just four games in a poor opening performance, and will now need to look to rebounded during the North American Hard Court summer.
Despite being slightly under the radar heading in, Angelique Kerber was always a contender for the Wimbledon title after such a solid start to 2018, and won her maiden SW19 crown in some style.
Kerber, the Australian and US Open champion in 2016 and a former world number one, didn’t always have the easiest path to the final, and she dropped the first set to 2017 Girl’s Singles champion Claire Liu in the second round, though always looked solid. She beat Belinda Bencic, who she was 0-3 against, to reach the last eight, and then beat Kasatkina and then Jelena Ostapenko to reach the final, where she overcame Serena Williams in a superb performance to seal a return to the top five.
With her confidence having built up throughout the whole season and now with a huge title under her belt once again, there is no doubt she will be incredibly interesting to follow throughout the rest of the year.