Beneath a steady strum of rain, the second week of wet Wimbledon is well under way. But with all American players eliminated before the 16th round of play, we might have to wait for the next tournament to heal our bruised sense of pride. While the American men have long struggled to make Wimbledon semi-finals, Serena Williams has routinely managed to keep the reputation of women players afloat. This week’s matches proved too much for her, however, and lacking success from any other American woman participants, the tournament marched onward without us.
In what was Serena’s earliest exit from Wimbledon in nearly a decade, the five-time champion was betrayed by her backhand and her usually lethal serve in the third round of play. Williams lost her third-round singles match to France’s Alize Cornet on Saturday. The 32-year-old tennis superstar appeared tentative throughout the final sets, and her serve and her confidence abandoning her after Cornet took the lead. Shocking those who witnessed it, journalist Chris Chase from USA Today described Serena’s demise as a “baffling and precipitous fall for the woman who entered 2014 having won four of her last six Slams and playing the best tennis of her life.”
The confusion only continued when Serena and her sister Venus pulled out of their Wimbledon doubles match after only three games. Set to play against Kristina Barrois and Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland, Serena’s earlier loss appeared to haunt her as she prepared to play. Before the match began she was visited briefly by a doctor. But it was clear from the first serve that something was amiss with the usually dynamic Williams duo. The match went quickly to 3-0, in favor of Barrois-Voegele, and saw Serena’s serve uncharacteristically fail her as she double faulted four times.
After that game Serena and Venus left the court, defaulting out of the women’s doubles tournament altogether. But Serena wasn’t the only American woman who saw her personal record shake at the courts of Wimbledon. Madison Keys withdrew Monday, due to a left adductor injury. “I had so much tape on me I could barely walk,” Keys told the NYTimes. “It just wasn’t happening.”
The rest of the American contingent – Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Alison Riske and Lauren Davis – could have said the same about their own performances. One American man, John Isner (seeded 9th) reached the third round, but he too was felled early on, losing his third-round match despite hitting 52 aces, eliminated 6-7 (8), 7-6 (6), 7-6 (3), 7-5 by 19th-seeded Feliciano Lopez of Spain.
Not since 1911 have zero Americans participated in round 16 at Wimbledon. Yet despite our poor showing this year, there are many other international stars to appreciate. Tune in this week to catch the dramatic conclusion of the Wimbledon tournament, broadcast nationwide on DirecTV’s Wimbledon Mix channel (info here), ESPN, and through other Wimbledon packages from leading network providers. Make sure to check out the Wimbledon.com website as well, which is constantly being updated with user-generated content in the form of photos, videos and tweets from the Centre Court.