LONDON: Rather than despairing at the carnage left behind in the women’s draw at Wimbledon, the evidence shows that the entertainment value has never been better, Coco Gauff declared after becoming the latest Grand Slam champion to perish in the first week.

Reputations have counted for little at this year’s grasscourt major.

Of the 13 women’s Grand Slams champions who turned up swinging their rackets, only three remain standing at the end of play on Sunday, with Elena Rybakina the only one who knows what it feels like to hold aloft the Venus Rosewater Dish.

The other two survivors, Jelena Ostapenko and Barbora Krejcikova are also in the top half of the draw with Rybakina.

That means there will definitely be at least one new Grand Slam finalist come Saturday from the bottom half, where the highest seed left is Jasmine Paolini at seven.

Gauff has been tipped as a Wimbledon champion-in-waiting ever since she caused one of the biggest shocks in Wimbledon history by defeating her childhood idol Venus Williams in the first round of the 2019 tournament when she was still a 15-year-old school student.

That dream will remain unfulfilled for at least another year after the US Open champion was unceremoniously shown the exit by compatriot Emma Navarro on Sunday.

Considering both of the top two seeds are out before the quarter-finals, with world number one Iga Swiatek having fallen by the wayside in the third round, Gauff said that people should not place much emphasis on seedings.

Alcaraz, Sinner into Wimbledon last-eight as tearful Keys quits

“I’ve played so many slams where anybody can win. The seed is just a number, just an advantage so you don’t play another seed first round. That doesn’t mean you can’t lose, as we’ve seen a lot of seeds drop out. We’ve seen defending champions drop out,” the American told reporters.

“Even though the (unseeded) players may not be as known, they’re so talented. That’s something that fans of the game are a little bit disrespectful when it comes to other players on tour.

Maybe their ranking isn’t there but the level is there.

“They’re here for a reason. They deserve their spot. There’s no easy draw. There’s no cakewalk or anything. This is a competitive sport and we all want to win.”

Nowhere has that been more evident than at Wimbledon as the last seven editions have been won by seven different players from seven different nations.

Whereas the tournament often featured repeat champions such as Martina Navratilova (nine titles), Steffi Graf (seven), Venus Williams (five), Serena Williams (seven) - memories of such dominance on grass were fading fast.

“When you see seven different champions in the past few years, that just shows there’s so much depth in the game I think it’s great. I think it makes the sport entertaining,” the 20-year-old said.

“There’s no easy matches… it pushes me as a player to want to be better.” (Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Michael Perry)


200 characters