Two Three-Time Winners at Wimbledon
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Roger Federer is this year's men's Wimbledon champion and Venus Williams the women's. Each has won Wimbledon three times, but the routes they took could not have been more different. Commentator John Feinstein joins me now.
JOHN FEINSTEIN reporting:
Good morning, Renee. Happy Fourth.
MONTAGNE: Thank you. Happy Fourth of July to you.
MONTAGNE: Let's start with the men. Yesterday's win at Wimbledon made in three in a row for Federer.
FEINSTEIN: And he was absolutely dominant in both the semifinals against Lleyton Hewitt. In the final yesterday against Andy Roddick, he didn't drop a set. It looked as if they played for three or four days he wouldn't drop a set. He's clearly the world's number-one player. The question now is: Where does he go in the pantheon of great players? Bjorn Borg won five straight Wimbledons. Pete Sampras won four. Federer now has three and counting, and for players like Roddick and Hewitt, who are very good players, it's got to be frustrating to be looking up at someone who's only 23 years old and clearly dominating their game.
MONTAGNE: Does Andy Roddick, though, walk away feeling good about making the final or disappointed with another loss to Roger Federer?
FEINSTEIN: I think it's a little bit of both, Renee. He's had a disappointing year before Wimbledon, losing early in Australia and at the French Open. He played very well at Wimbledon to get to the final, as you said, but he's a year younger than Federer and he wants to win Wimbledon some day and he's got this giant brick wall that is Federer in front of him if he's ever going to be a Wimbledon champion. You could see by the look on his face after match point yesterday that he was sort of thinking, `What do I have to do to beat this guy?'
MONTAGNE: And if Federer made it look easy, Venus Williams' win Saturday over Lindsay Davenport in the final was completely the opposite.
FEINSTEIN: Longest women's final in history...
FEINSTEIN: ...two hours and 45 minutes. They played more than an hour longer than the men. Think about that by comparison. And the--Venus Williams was down a set. She was down a break in the third set. She came back. Lindsay Davenport's back started to hurt her. It was a classic, epic struggle, and for Venus Williams, who's basically been invisible in tennis since she played the Wimbledon final against her sister, Serena, two years ago, it was a remarkable comeback. She'd fallen out of the top 10. She's the lowest-seeded woman to win Wimbledon since the open era began in 1968, and all of a sudden, you know, people are talking about her as an important player again where she had almost disappeared for a while.
MONTAGNE: So Venus is back. What about little sister Serena?
FEINSTEIN: Well, little sister Serena lost early, more injury problems. And the Williams sisters are a true enigma, because when they're healthy and when they're focused on tennis as we saw in the early 2000s, there's no one who can beat them. They get to finals and play one another. But when they're distracted and/or injured, they tend to disappear from the map. So there's no way really to predict which Williams, or if either Williams, will be important when we get to the US Open in September.
MONTAGNE: John, tennis isn't as popular in this country as it was 10 and 20 years ago. Why do we all remember how much the game--how cool the game is during Wimbledon?
FEINSTEIN: Well, because Wimbledon is unique. You don't have the constant corporate drop-ins. It has its traditions--the Duke and Duchess of Kent presenting the trophies, the little tiny stadium, relatively speaking--and it reminds us of what was great about tennis when it was at its zenith 15 or 20 years ago. I think it also reminds us how great the game can be when it's played well in the women's final, for example, which makes it a shame that it's not popular the rest of the year because it's been mismanaged so badly.
MONTAGNE: John, thanks very much.
FEINSTEIN: Thank you, Renee.
MONTAGNE: The comments of John Feinstein. His book, "Caddy for Life: The Bruce Edwards Story," is now available in paperback.
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