A Courtside Report From Wimbledon's Final Weekend
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
Time now for sports.
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WERTHEIMER: We have a winner in the women's singles at Wimbledon this morning. Marion Bartoli of France, a long shot, has defeated another long shot from Germany, Sabine Lisicki. Sitting courtside is Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN the magazine. And he joins us from the All England Club in London. Good morning, Howard.
HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning. How are you?
WERTHEIMER: I'm fine. There was quite a bit of drama on the court today, as these two young women, who - neither one had ever won a major tournament, faced each other at Wimbledon, of all places, playing on grass.
BRYANT: Incredible, incredible afternoon. And not necessarily great tennis at first because when you get to a major for the first time, you're on the big stage, you're on the same as Billy Jean King and Martina Navratilova and Helen Wills Moody and Suzanne Longlen and Serena Williams and all the great, great players. And Sabine Lisicki, the moment was a little too big for her. She's a huge server, she's a great talent and she was demolished in the first set mostly because she simply couldn't keep her nerves intact. She lost the first set 6-to-1, and was down 5-to-1 in three match points in the second set, and at one point was visibly crying on the court because the pressure was just too great. She held it together a little bit, won a couple of games and Bartoli finally won 6-4 in the second set to win the championship.
But it was just an example of incredible the pressure is, how difficult it is to be able to perform at the pinnacle of a sport, and when you're trying to reach your dream. You don't know how many times you're going to have another chance to get there, and it was amazing to see Bartoli come through. She had a very, very difficult year, and to win this championship for her is pretty remarkable.
WERTHEIMER: So, do think we will see these two again? Do you think Lisicki will get another chance?
BRYANT: Well, I think she will. I think she'll have other chances, and it was very, very sweet of Marion Bartoli to say that during the trophy presentation, that she had no doubt that Sabine Lisicki would be back. But once again, the one thing we know about sports is we don't know anything; is that you have no idea who's going to be back, and if you think that next year is your year, you just don't know. And, obviously, with the competition being what it is, let's - you think Serena Williams is sitting at home right now thinking, oh, well, I won't be back. Of course she'll be back. Maria Sharapova will be back. Victoria Azarenka will be back. There are a lot of great young players. Sloan Stephens, the American, will be a huge contender for championships to come.
So, that's the reason why so many professional athletes will tell you, when you're on stage, when it's your moment, you've got to take it because you don't know when that moment's coming again, if it ever does.
WERTHEIMER: Now, the big moment has come for Andy Murray and, of course, the hopes of all Britain are riding on him. He plays Novak Djokovic. What do you think's going to happen?
BRYANT: Well, I picked Novak Djokovic to win but these two, there's really very little to separate them. The pressure on Andy Murray, the pressure on this entire country to finally break the curse of not having a men's major champion at Wimbledon - the last champion to win here was Fred Perry in 1936. The women a little bit better; Virginia Wade in 1977. But the hopes and dreams of this country - it's so personal here - is to finally have a champion. And Andy Murray lost last year to Roger Federer. This year he's got a chance, but he's going up against the best player in the world. It's not going to be easy. He's going to have the entire crowd supporting him but at the same time, he's got a huge task in going up against Novak Djokovic, who's played in eight of the last - I'm sorry, now nine of the last 12 major championships. He's the best player going. Andy Murray has a huge, huge task in front of him.
WERTHEIMER: Thanks very much, Howard.
BRYANT: No, my pleasure. I could watch tennis all day. It's the best.
WERTHEIMER: Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine, on the line from Wimbledon.
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WERTHEIMER: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.