British fans were forced to wait two years for The Championships after the coronavirus pandemic cancelled the 2020 edition but they have not been disappointed by the return of top-tier tennis to the All England Club.
There has been drama, tears, injuries and controversy throughout the tournament. Oh, and some pretty good tennis, too.
But as the tennis world moves onto the next week, we at Metro.co.uk take a look at what the future holds for some of the most impressive stars of this tournament.
What next for Emma Raducanu?
Emma Raducanu’s rise to prominence has been the story of The Championships.
While the likes of Dan Evans and Cam Norrie have established themselves as top-30 pros, they are yet to make a splash in the national psyche quite like Raducanu.
Even Johanna Konta, who has reached three Grand Slam semi-finals and been as high as world No. 4, hasn’t generated the buzz quite like the 18-year-old from south-east London.
Raducanu fever captured the imagination of the nation to the point that Wimbledon – no doubt under pressure from broadcasters – were scheduling her Manic Monday match in a primetime slot, despite not putting a woman’s match last on that day for at least 12 years.
Of course, it was a bit of a flat finish. Raducanu quit her last-16 tie with Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic after falling a set-and-a-break down and admitted the occasion got to her.
It’s totally understandable. While 18 is not exactly old in women’s tennis – Coco Gauff, after all, raced to the fourth round here at 16 – Raducanu is far less tour hardened than many of her peers who enjoy a teenage breakthrough.
She is simply, incredibly inexperienced in top-tier tennis. Schoolwork has played just as important role in her life compared to many athletes of the same age who abandon their education to pursue their sporting dreams.
Raducanu’s focus now will totally turn to tennis and her surprise fourth-round sprint will open the doors of possibility.
She is expected to head out to the States for the hardcourt swing and there should be opportunities to qualify for WTA Tour events that clash with the Olympic Games.
Her ranking will rise to world No. 179 on Monday, which means she will comfortably get into qualifying for the US Open and it’s vital she gets as many matches under her belt before then.
The time has come to regularly test herself against top opposition, against the different playing styles and mentalities that bless a varied and fiercely competitive women’s tour.
Raducanu has shown the future is potentially very bright but now she’s got to show she can put in the work and cope with the tennis tour grind.
Novak Djokovic will pass Margaret Court
What to say of Novak Djokovic?
Utterly dominant. Utterly brilliant. Simply, the best.
A four-sets win over Matteo Berrettini on Sunday has put the Golden Slam – where a player wins all majors and the Olympic Games – firmly in his sights as he prepares to travel to Tokyo and New York.
While the Calendar Slam feels a near-certainty, given his track record of managing best-of-five sets matches, he will be more vulnerable in Japan when the event is best-of-three before the final.
Still, you’d be a brave person to back against the world No. 1 once again going where his greatest rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have not been able to before. His case to be considered the greatest male player of all-time is now stronger than ever and the reality is he may leave them both in his wake.
Indeed, the chase will surely turn to Serena Williams’s Open Era Slams record (23) and Margaret Court’s all-time one (24).
I’ve long believed Djokovic will pass both and leave his name firmly etched in the history books as the greatest, whether people like it or not.
At this rate, he could hit the magic 30 and put Federer and Nadal firmly in his shadow.
Ash Barty the real deal but more rivalry needed
This remains a hugely exciting time for the women’s game.
There are high-quality, dominant stars starting to regularly win big tournaments.
Naomi Osaka has established herself as the hard court queen, while newly-crowned Wimbledon champ Ash Barty is now firmly the queen of the natural surfaces.
This has the potential to be one of the strongest women’s eras in history, should all these young athletes fulfil their potential but, for now, there is one key ingredient missing.
There is a distinct lack of rivalries at the top of the sport. That’s down to a lack of top-level meetings in the latter stages of Slams – and hasn’t been helped by Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open and Wimbledon.
It will hopefully come but rivalries are what make this sport tick.
As Bianca Andreescu – one of the players who should be able to put herself in many positions to win majors – put it in a column for Metro.co.uk before the tournament: ‘I think the rivalries we’ll develop will be super important.
‘I think we can change the game. We can change the world. We all come as a collective. Especially since we’re super, super young and are doing very well. It will be really cool to have that rivalry.
‘I can say like it’s like the new: Nadal-Federer or Serena-Maria, you know? I don’t want to compare myself to them but it’ll be cool to see if that can be a thing. I think it will be.’
Let’s hope she’s right. With Barty, Osaka, Iga Swiatek, Gauff, Raducanu, Sofia Kenin, Aryna Sabalenka, Andreescu and so many more capable of being dominant forces, we should be treated to some golden rivalries to last the ages.
Joe Salisbury Britain’s best chance of Olympic medal
Two-time gold medalist Murray may be targeting a third singles medal at the Games – let’s be honest, we’d bite your hand off for a bronze – and Evans may even have half a chance of doing the same given the weakened field but really the best chance for success will come in doubles.
Salisbury is one of the sport’s best. He is a regular in Grand Slam finals – both men’s and mixed.
A Salisbury-Murray pairing is mouth-watering but Joe is the key player in the team.
After back-to-back runs to mixed doubles Grand Slam finals in Paris and London, he should also be a formidable force in that format.
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