3 Saints of Modern Wimbledon

Wimbledon has finally arrived and for us Brits this means a few things.

Tennis fans in a 9-5 will be anxiously checking the scores in a minimised window in their bottom screen, praying that they won’t be missing the match of the century.

Younger Murray fans will be racing home after school to watch as much of the action as possible. Stay at home parents will be forgetting about all the little jobs that they really needed to get done; ironing will be skipped until the kids look more crumpled than one of our old five pound notes and that broken Belling oven door will stay broken, or at least until the tournament winds down. Dinners will reduce in complexity and soon the family will just be ordering fried chicken, just like they’ve seen on TV.

With World Number One, Andy Murray, returning to defend his title once more; millions will be tuning in to watch the coverage. On the first day of the tournament proper, we’ve been looking back over the expansive 140-year history of the competition and weighing up the top three Sinners and Saints that have graced the green grass of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

First up – let’s take a look at the good guys of the tennis world that have lit up the court with their admirable actions:

Noble Novak concedes point to Stepanek

The former World Number One returns to Wimbledon this year; he’s won the competition three times before and is no doubt hoping to reclaim the title from Murray, who most recently snatched it from him in 2016. Novak has earned himself a reputation for being a fiery opponent who still manages to walk off the court with a smile on his face, regardless of the outcome. Back in 2014, he would go on to reclaim his Wimbledon title as well as the number one seed, but not before performing a memorable act of sportsmanship in the second round.

Tied at 5-5, Radek Stepanek was having a hard time in the fourth set as Djokovic led 2-1. A ball smashed from Stepanek was called out just after Djokovic returned the ball into the net, much to the Czech player’s disbelief. A review confirmed Stepanek’s objection but the umpire insisted that the point be replayed, as Djokovic’s play might have been distracted by the umpire’s shout. Calling to the umpire, Novak immediately conceded the crucial point to his opponent, stating that he had no hope of playing it. Although the Serb went on to win the game, match and tournament; the moment is still remembered as one of his best.

Murray wins over Britain with losing speech

The hopes of the country were resting on one man’s shoulder in the Summer of 2012, when Andy Murray took to centre court for the Men’s Singles Finals, the first time a British man had done so since 1938. He’d battled ard for years, training under his Mother for most of that time, with the goal of reaching the final of England’s oldest competition. His opponent couldn’t have been tougher: 5-time champion Roger Federer.

After taking the first set, Murray was summarily beaten by the Swiss legend leaving the Brit physically and emotionally battered. Although Andy had the support of the Centre Court crowd in London, he’d yet to truly win over the rest of the country – until that moment. His speech, choked with tears and clearly grateful for the support, went viral and soon became Britain’s favourite sporting son. When he finally won the competition the following year, his relief and joy was felt all over the the country.

The Williams Sisters battle for a Finals place

Back in 2000, the Williams sisters were on the rise. The semi-final of the 2000 edition of Wimbledon saw these two ascendant players pitted against each other, in what proved to be a thrilling match that their coach Father could not bear to watch. Whilst their Dad had to excuse himself from the court, Venus, aged 20, went on to beat her younger sister, Serena, in an emotionally charged match that had the entire crowd on their feet.

The Williams have always been known for their passion and energy whilst on the court, it’s often commented that their performances are even more driven when they are pitted against each other. Commiserating her sister after beating her in straight sets, it was clear for all to see that match had meant a lot to both players, their handshake turned into a tête-à-tête that lasted for a few minutes, a heady moment that exemplified the respect and love that the sisters have for each other. Although Venus would go on to win the tournament, Serena would only have to wait 2 more years to claim victory on the hallowed courts of Wimbledon.