Djokovic celebrates his first-ever Wimbledon victory in 2011Wikimedia Commons

Tennis is a game in a constant state of flux; players go through ups and downs, the surface changes throughout the year and even balls change depending on the tournament. However, it seems that no amount of change can pose a threat to Novak Djokovic, the mark of a true champion. And once in a while, it transpires that destiny is at play; the stars aligned and the path was illumined for Ashleigh Barty to win the title of her dreams and her second Grand slam.

In honour of Evonne Goolagong Cawley

This year saw the fateful return of the grass season which was cancelled last year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Wimbledon 2020 was cancelled for the first time since World War II, and made it’s glorious return on Monday 28th June. After the mild controversy that was the French Open being moved a week later, encroaching on the grass season, all eyes were on Wimbledon, the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world.

As a spectator, if you had the honour of seeing Ash Barty, you might have noticed the designs and patterns on the dress she was wearing. The Australian was wearing a dress in honour of the great Evonne Goolagong, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of her historic first Wimbledon title in 1971. Evonne Goolagong Cawley was a tennis player from an Aboriginal family that went on to dominate tennis in the 1970s. She has further made a name for herself as an advocate for the rights of indigenous Australians. She is a mentor and role model for many Australian tennis players and, most importantly, a close friend of Barty. Knowing this at the start of the tournament, it almost seems like Barty was destined to win the tournament, beyond the fact that she is the highest ranked player in the world. She had not shown great form in the weeks preceding the tournament, a result of an injury she sustained in Rome, causing her to retire in the second round of her French Open campaign.

Although Barty came into Wimbledon with a clean bill of health, she had to grow into the tournament and find her form with match experience. After a tough first round against Carla Suarez Navarro, which went to three sets, she progressed to the final almost without hindrance, defeating the 2021 French Open winner Barbora Krejcikova in straight sets in the fourth round, as if she were an unstoppable force on a divine quest. In the final she met the tour veteran, Karolina Pliskova, a former world No1 and seen among the tennis media as one of the best players to never win a Slam title. She was certainly an unexpected finalist, but other than the semifinal against Aryna Sabalenka, she got through without dropping a set. The final saw two players in great form: the favourite with the weight of expectation on her shoulders, and the challenger, a great player thought by many to be on the decline. Barty came out the victor in a tight 3-set affair and the fairy tale was complete with its happy ending, becoming the first Australian to win the Wimbledon title in 19 years.

Djokovic’s metronomic conquering of Grand Slam titles

Novak Djokovic, beating Matteo Berrettini in four sets in the final, claimed his sixth Wimbledon title, 20th Grand Slam and his third of this year. In tying Nadal and Federer’s Grand Slam counts he makes his claim to being the greatest player of all time even more credible. He is the only one of the three to have won each Grand Slam at least twice. He is also the only one to have won each of the 9 Masters 1000 titles, another feat he has accomplished at least twice. The only silverware eluding Novak’s trophy cabinet is an Olympic Gold medal, and that can certainly be rectified shortly in Tokyo.


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Djokovic remains the paragon of mental fortitude and he encapsulates resilience in the face of adversity. In the final he was not just in a battle against Berrettini, he was also battling the crowd that was mostly rooting for the Italian. Much like Barty, he has looked unbeatable this tournament, only dropping two sets, one in the first round and the other in the final. This is in stark contrast to Roger Federer, who was thrashed in straight sets in the quarter finals by the Polish player Hugo Hurkacz. At the age of 39, turning 40 next month, and having exited in such a fashion, it is worth asking if we are seeing the end of the Legend’s career, and if that was his last Wimbledon. It is unlikely that he will win another Grand Slam, not if Djokovic and Nadal keep up their form. He says he continues to play because he loves the sport, but for a person like him, it must be hard to keep loving the sport if he continues to lose.

What comes next?

Djokovic’s mission is not complete; he is on course for the Calendar Grand Slam, which is winning all four Slam titles in one calendar year, a feat only ever achieved in 1988 by Steffi Graf. In fact, with it being an Olympic year, he is on course for the Golden slam if he wins that too. If he manages to complete such a feat, there would be little to discuss as to who is crowned the greatest. He would have won everything there is to win – he would complete tennis. To swing things even more in his favour, both Nadal and Federer have pulled out of the Olympics. Novak however, in his Wimbledon Champions press conference expressed doubt over going to a behind-closed-doors event with such a strict bubble, without the possibility of bringing his family. He might also want to prioritise training for the US Open, which gets underway on the 30th of August.

Meanwhile the women's game remains in transition as we are seeing a range of new winners within the top 20, and the next generation are clearly taking hold. The likes of Barty, Osaka and Swiatek are leading this charge and we may just be seeing the beginnings of a dynasty and a great set of rivalries. It would be no surprise if one of those three emerge victorious at Flushing Meadows...