Title for Vondroušová peak of Wimbledon to remember for Czechs

Markéta Vondroušová

Czech tennis has just enjoyed an unforgettable weekend. Markéta Vondroušová became the first ever unseeded champion of Wimbledon in women’s singles, while Barbora Strýcová lifted the women’s doubles titles in her last appearance at the All England Club.

Markéta Vondroušová | Photo: Tetsu Joko,  ČTK/AP

Markéta Vondroušová, who is 24, caused one of the biggest sensations at Wimbledon in years by lifting the women’s singles title on Saturday.

She was the first unseeded player to lift the title in the modern era. What’s more she had been dropped by her sponsor earlier in the year, had missed half of last season after wrist surgery – and felt she had zero chance on grass.

So her 6-4 6-4 final win over the favourite Ons Jabeur of Tunisia left Vondroušová reeling almost as much as the Centre Court crowd.

She spoke to Czech Radio after her stunning victory.

“I’ve got to say I would never have thought I had a chance here, also due to how I played here in the past. And I really didn’t have a good relationship with grass! That makes it all the more unbelievable to me. When I came here I said, Let’s see if I can make it through the first round – and now look what’s happening. It’s great how everyone is enjoying it so much.”

Martina Navrátilová  (1956) Czech tennis player  (and American citizen cince 1981). She won the Grand Slam tournament eight times. She dominated women's tennis in the 1980s and won every major tournament. | Photo: ČTK

Watching on as Markéta Vondroušová made history on Saturday was Prague-born Martina Navrátilová, who herself won in singles at Wimbledon a record nine times after defecting from communist Czechoslovakia to the US.

“Of course I was supporting her. I was also rooting for Ons Jabeur almost as much, but I was up for Markéta more. She kept her nerve better, she played her own tennis better than Ons did. Also she is left-handed, which helped her a bit.”

But why has Vondroušová – who has jumped to ninth in the world rankings – come good now, with her first ever Grand Slam title? Navrátilová offered this explanation to Czech Radio.

“She was frequently injured, so she didn’t have enough game time behind her on grass. Then she started believing in herself more and the results were good and maybe she said, Actually I can play on grass. Now she plays great on grass so hopefully she will have self-belief.”

But Vondroušová wasn’t the only Czech success at the weekend. At her last Wimbledon, Barbora Strýcová lifted the women’s doubles title on Sunday with Hsieh Su-wie of Taiwan.

The pair beat Storm Hunter and Elise Mertens 7-5 6-4 for their second title together at the All England Club.

It really was a fairy tale goodbye to the tournament for Strýcová, who had been out of the sport for more than two years after giving birth to her first child and is retiring this season.

Meanwhile a new generation of Czech talent also impressed at Wimbledon. Alena Kovačková and Laura Samsonová won the junior doubles, while Jakub Filip also lifted a doubles title in that age category.

Author: Ian Willoughby
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