As in any monarchy, one can ascend to the tennis throne only by supplanting someone else. In this case, Wimbledon 2010 might well have marked the dethronement of King Roger I. After five months of abundant losses (and no titles) on the ATP circuit, Federer was supposed to reacquaint himself with winning at Wimbledon, his personal grass fiefdom since 2003. But a few hours into the tournament he was within a game of elimination at the hands of a Colombian journeyman, Alejandro Falla. While Federer fought through, he was mowed down nine days later in the quarterfinals by Berdych.
Normally so graceful, Federer was graceless in defeat, dwelling on his injuries, stingy in his praise of Berdych. "If I'm healthy, I can handle those guys," he said of players who had beaten him of late. "They're not going to reinvent themselves in a year.'' You don't win 16 majors without a substantial amount of pride, but this was a new means of expression for Federer.
The loss dropped him behind Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the rankings, a depth to which he hadn't sunk since 2003. Yet write Federer off at your own peril. Any player that talented and complete will be a contender at majors until he retires. And though he's almost 29, it's a young 29, light as he is on his feet.
Still, there was an inescapable sense that his lease on tennis's penthouse had expired. It's Nadal's time now, even if he's reluctant to admit it publicly. "I don't think about 'greatest this' and 'rankings that,' " he says. "I just think about finding a way to win every match. The rest will come by itself."
That might be Serena's motto as well. It was early evening last Saturday before she finally left the club to celebrate still another title. Dressed in a shimmering white Burberry minidress and ringed by a large retinue of siblings, guests such as Vikings tackle Bryant McKinnie (just friends), a stylist, an agent and assorted hangers-on, she looked for all the world like a queen.
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