Next up on Centre Court: New faces

With only three of the women's quarter-finalists in the top ten, Wimbledon goers make do without the usual star names.

Last Modified: 02 Jul 2013 13:29
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Sabine Lisicki celebrates knocking favourite and reigning champion Serena Williams out of tournament [AFP]

Clutching tickets won in a raffle, acquired through the local tennis club or bought at a charity auction, the fans huddled together on a chilly Centre Court all agreed - the Wimbledon women's quarter-finals were low on star names.

But the diehard aficionados ready to queue all night outside the grounds were delighted to find it took them only three hours to get in to watch what Britain's Times newspaper scornfully called "the women you've never heard of."

Five-times champion Serena Williams is out. Maria Sharapova has gone. In the last eight, household names are hard to come by as only three of the top 10 seeds made it into the last eight.

Williams' unexpected downfall in the fourth round prompted American great John McEnroe to quip: "Serena's exit has kept this crazy tournament as crazy as it's ever been!"

With one of the quarter-final line-ups now boasting a showdown between Sabine Lisicki and Kaia Kanepi, fans were feeling a little underwhelmed.

"It has lost its edge. We are slightly disappointed," confessed Daniel Francis, on Centre Court with his mother Breda with their tickets won in an auction.

But, eager to put a positive spin on a thoroughly British experience, he said: "I suppose it is good to see the underdogs just like we do in football with the FA Cup."

Jenny Gibbs, enjoying her Centre Court debut as a spectator, said: "I must say I was disappointed it wasn't men's tennis. That at the moment is so much better."

Dorothy Richardson agreed: "I am disappointed we are not going to see the stars."

'Falling like flies'

Fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska is the highest ranked survivor. Name a famous Belgian tennis player and most would pick Kim Clijsters or Justine Henin. Few would choose Kirsten Flipkens, one of the last eight at Wimbledon 2013.

Fans of British number one Andy Murray were fanatical enough to queue from Friday to Monday for a chance to see their hero in action. Such devotion does not stretch to the women's game.

"Seeds are falling like flies," said Michael Ly, a tennis fan from Melbourne, Australia. Delighted that it took so little time to get in, he said: "This is a once in a lifetime thing to do."

Jonathan Down could not believe his luck in the queue.

"We got Centre Court tickets as there is much less interest."

But Sue Barker, former French Open winner and now a BBC presenter, argued that change was positive.

"I would love to see Serena and Maria through but times change and times have to change. It's lovely to see new faces and get some new stories."

Men's number one seed Novak Djokovic also welcomed the new-look second week after Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal suffered shock early exits.

"It's good for change in a way because top players are always expected to reach the final stages of major events," he said.
"I think it's interesting also to see new faces for the crowd, for (the) tennis world in general."


Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.