Wimbledon 2017: The last 16 women, with No1 on the line, in their own words
No better time than after Middle Sunday to review who is left standing in the women's draw at Wimbledon, with some comments from a few of them
A still-baking Wimbledon Championship gears up for its busiest and most thrilling day, Manic Monday.
No other Major enjoys a no-match Middle Sunday to allow players and the grass courts time to rest. But no other Major packs every fourth-round match, men and women, into a single show-stopping day.
The women’s last 16 includes six who have won at least one Major: Venus Williams (who is the only remaining Wimbledon champion here); Victoria Azarenka (here on a protected ranking but unseeded); Angelique Kerber (runner-up last year and defending her No1 ranking), Garbine Muguruza (a former Wimbledon finalist); and Jelena Ostapenko (the most recent and youngest Major champion here).
On top of that, Johanna Konta remains in contention for the first women’s title here since Virginia Wade—40 years ago.
No better time, then, to review who is left standing, with some comments from a few of them.
Angelique Kerber, No1 seed, plays Garbine Muguruza, No15 seed
Garbine Muguruza on not finding grass particular comfortable:
“I never feel that comfortable in grass. You know, every time I start the grass season, I’m like, How the hell I did I make that final? This kind of feeling. For sure, the experience I have now playing matches helps me. But it’s tough. Everybody knows it’s tough.”
Kerber, on the contest to retain No1 at Wimbledon:
“You know, right now it feels a little bit different than it was before. Now I really trying to going out there not thinking too much. At the beginning, you have a little bit more things in your mind. It’s a little bit different because you feel more pressure and more expectation from everybody around, but also from yourself. You need time. You need experience. You need a few up and downs in your career to know how it is and to feel it… But at the end for me, it’s more important going out there, playing good tennis, winning matches.”
Victoria Azarenka, protected ranking of No6 but unseeded, vs Simona Halep, No2 seed
Azarenka, on her form six months after giving birth:
“Well, I’m happy to be here. I’m still very ambitious and focused. I’m not on a Cloud 9 for making it to the second week, but I do appreciate everything that I have been able to achieve right now, and I don’t take anything for granted. You know, I’m still in the tournament. I can’t be too happy. I’m never really satisfied until it’s done.
“I don’t like to call it a comeback, because I feel like it’s just a new chapter in my life. It’s kind of like a second career a little bit, that’s how it feels to me. I feel like whatever happened in the past is really in the past, and I have those achievements and all those titles and stuff, but now I feel like a new me, in a way. I just want to continue to improve.”
Halep, who has a chance to reach No1 for the first time:
“I don’t take the match like a test. I take it very important. It’s open always when I go on court. Anyone can win the match from both of us. So I’m just trying to stay focused, to do my job as good as I can, and just trying to win.”
Jelena Ostapenko, No13 seed, vs Elina Svitolina, No5 seed
Jelena Ostapenko, French Open champion
“I mean, after the French, I rested a little bit, and I went to Eastbourne. Then I was just preparing for this tournament, just to play every match, just enjoy every match, because I won the Grand Slam at the French. I kind of just tried to play free, not to think too much. Because then I think is easier to play. I think after French I’m more confident, so I’m playing every match better and better.
“I like to play on grass. Every year is getting slower and slower, so it’s more difficult to play, because players have more time. But otherwise I really like because, if I can serve well and I return well, it’s the surface that I can play good.”
Svitolina, winner of most matches on tour this year, on Manic Monday:
“Well, definitely [fans] will see a lot of competition, because everyone is very hungry for the title. Everyone is smelling the winning, smelling the amazing feeling of being in Wimbledon’s quarter-final. It’s something very special. So everyone is trying to be 100 percent ready, healthy, and be there winning.
“It’s a big day, I think.”
Coco Vandeweghe, No25 seed, vs Caroline Wozniacki, No6 seed
Caroline Wozniacki on the pressures of being No1:
“I think everyone wants to be No1. I think there’s pressure on you whether you’re No1 or No5 in the world. You know, you have pressure. It’s all about how you handle it. I enjoy it. I enjoy having a target on my back because it means you need to keep playing better and improve and keep working hard because everyone is looking forward to beating you. You know, it’s what [Angelique] trained for.”
Coco Vandeweghe on confidence:
“I think my game runs on confidence more so than maybe somebody else. But I’m not going to be able to hit my shots if I’m thinking, Oh, my gosh, I’m going to miss, I haven’t made this forehand in four tries, I’m going to miss this next one.
I think that’s where my confidence kind of just rides a little bit… I go into matches thinking that I can win every match I play, because if I go in thinking I’m already going to lose, you’ve already lost before you even have played the first point.”
Johanna Konta, No7 seed, vs Caroline Garcia (No22 seed)
Konta on being touted as favourite for the title:
“I believe every single woman in the draw is a threat to everybody. I don’t think necessarily someone more than the other… A lot of it also comes down to the day and the matchup of the two styles of play.
“I think I’m playing some good tennis. I don’t think I’m playing unbelievable tennis. I think I’m playing with the mindset of just trying to get better, like I have done every other match I’ve played in my career.”
Caroline Garcia on the pressure of playing in front of a home crowd:
“I mean, there is a pressure and there is also the support. Doesn’t matter what you are doing. They are behind you and they are supporting you. Sometimes they give you more energy to go through some problems on court. I’m not going to say it’s positive every single time. French Open has been difficult for me in the past… it can be difficult, but it can be also a lot of help, for sure.”
Ana Konjuh, No29 seed, vs Venus Williams, No11 seed
Venus Williams, the oldest woman in the draw, on retirement:
“I’ll be fine because I played so many times. It will be nice to get a life, I guess, so…
“There’s always other chapters in your life. I definitely lived this chapter. I’m still living it. I love this game. So I think I’ll have an opportunity not to miss it, I imagine. I don’t know how I’ll feel. I think I’ll always in my heart be a tennis player. There will be something missing always without the competition. But I’m not there yet.
Agnieszka Radwanska No10 seed, vs Svetlana Kuznetsova, No8 seed
Radwanska reflects on bouncing back from injury and illness:
“Well, of course it’s great to be back. Especially that I have really rough couple of weeks before I came here. You know, I think every match that I can win makes me happy.
“I was really struggling this year with foot and I have couple viruses on the way, as well. So yeah, it wasn’t really a great couple of months. I’m struggling pretty much with myself than with opponents. So, every match matters. Of course grass is the surface [where] I really feel good. Hopefully I can really do good here even without the preparation.”
Magdalena Rybarikova, No87 ranking, vs Petra Martic (qualifier, ranked 135)