Wimbledon watching with Mats Wilander
Last week, I sat down with eight-time Grand Slam tennis champion Mats Wilander at Dunham Woods Riding Club in Wayne. He was there as part of his Wilander on Wheels tour and had driven to the club in his Winnebago to run paid tennis clinics with 32 lucky club members.
And he was gracious enough to give me 10 minutes more than the allotted 15 minutes of time to talk tennis. For those who know I play tennis, I did not hit with the legend — that was a privilege for members only.
Wimbledon, the most prestigious tournament in tennis, is going on right now and began the day before he arrived in Wayne — the two-week, grass-court tournament ends Sunday.
The Swede still follows the game closely and I had to get his choices to win the tournament — he had a taste of Wimbledon victory in 1986 when he won the doubles title. His Grand Slam singles career titles featured three Australian Opens, three French Opens and one U.S. Open.
Wilander, 46, like many tennis critics, picks six-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer to win the title on the men's side, even if he plays the final against Rafael Nadal, the no. 1 player in the world and his biggest rival on the men's tour. If he goes head to head against Nadal in the final, Federer will have to overcome the “Nadal complex” that was on full display in the French Open final between the two.
As for the women, that was bit trickier.
At the time of our chat, the Williams sisters were back in the mix. Both Venus and her sister Serena Williams took significant time away from the game to recover from injuries — Serena had been out since last year's Wimbledon and Venus began her layoff during this year's Australian Open. Combined, the House of Williams have won nine of the last 11 Wimbledon championships.
At the time of our interview, Serena was still in the tournament but Wilander went outside of the box with this pick.
“I think right now, maybe (Maria) Sharapova,” Wilander said. “She's back and playing really well, but again, when they are up against Serena, you know they all have so much respect and they get intimidated and (Serena) thinks she belongs with that trophy the last day, whether she's played tennis the last 12 months or not.”
Sharapova last won Wimbledon in 2004 and her path to the title just got clearer.
On Monday, Serena was knocked out of the tournament in the fourth round by 2007 Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli. Venus crashed out later on in the day to Bulgaria's Tsevtana Pironkova. And no. 1 player Caroline Wozniacki was ousted, too.
Will Wilander's picks turn out to be correct? Watch Wimbledon to find out!
#376; Lenore Adkins covers Carpentersville, Huntley, the Dundees and Hampshire. To reach her, send her an email at email@example.com or call (847) 608-2725. You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.