After a rain blighted first week, Wimbledon blossomed into enthralling life with upsets, drama and ultimately two splendid champions with special reasons for acclaim: Andy Murray boosting British morale by regaining the men’s title he won in 2013 and the indestructible Serena Williams equalling Steffi Graf’s tally of 22 grand slam titles in the Open era.
Murray first. Taut, driven, even consumed by the desire to succeed, he is not the easiest player to watch but his magisterial defeat of Milos Raonic, 6-4 7-6 7-6, deserved the rapturous acclaim it received on the Centre Court.
Given the emotions, pressures and demands of the situation, this was the Scottish player’s finest hour at the All England Club.
Raonic, the first Canadian to reach the men’s final, looks destined for great things in the game. A huge serve, whiplash ground strokes and an insatiable appetite for advancing to the net make him a daunting opponent.
Murray tackled the situation with aplomb, and a welcome lack of the Hammer House of Horror histrionics which sometimes mar his performances.
At 25, it is not hard to predict a burgeoning role for Raonic on the world stage.
Murray, four years older, is cementing his place among the top players in the world and the Wimbledon accolade will strengthen his credentials as an outstanding competitor whose dedication and ambition could carry him to even greater heights.
The Serena saga continues. Her 7-5 6-3 conquest of the Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber was a splendid way of capturing a seventh Wimbledon singles title and drawing level with Graf in the grand slam roll of honour.
It was followed by success in the women’s doubles partnering her sister, Venus. And at 34. the story is far from over, her next target being an Olympic gold medal in Rio.
What a remarkable player she is. The admirable Kerber fought heroically to stem the avalanche of winners pouring over the net, but ultimately she had to capitulate in what was a hugely enjoyable contest.
Cue arguments about where Serena now stands in the pantheon of legendary players. Is she the greatest? Discuss…
Stand out reflections on the fortnight? Well, the unexpected departures of a distinctly weary Novak Djokovic and a rather forlorn Roger Federer.
My most memorable quote was delivered by Australia’s likeable oddball, Nick Kyrgios.
“I don’t love this sport,” he said, “but I don’t know what else to do without it.”
And among the most extraordinary scenes: Victor Troicki’s incandescent outburst over a debatable line call on an outside court which lasted for several high octane minutes. Also, a hold-up lasting over 10 minutes at match point in a men’s doubles match in which the response of Pablo Cuevas and Marcel Granollers to the umpire’s refusal to grant a toilet break was an apparent threat to find relief in a ball can.
It was all part of the classic Wimbledon scenario. Archetypal, quintessential Wimbledon. The weather might have let us down initially, but the tournament, as ever, fulfilled its promise by serving up a feast of entertainment culminating with a patriotic flourish as Heather Watson lifted the mixed doubles trophy with Finland’s Henri Kontinen.