By Alan Trengove, Australian Tennis, August 1991

What makes two-time Wimbledon champion Stefan Edberg the great player he is?
Many will nominate Edberg’s backhand as the one shot that distinguishes him from most of his rivals. Others will cite his graceful and usually very effective service, or his crisp, instinctive volley. How does the Swede himself perceive his main strength?

When the question was put to him during Wimbledon, he had no hesitation in saying that his mobility is the key to his success. Certainly, no player of comparable height (he is 6 feet 2, or 188cm) covers the court with so much speed and flexibility.

“This is the area in which I have improved the most in the last couple of years,” said Edberg. “I’m surely a yard quicker than I was two or three years ago.

“That means I have more time to hit my shots. I can stay in the back of the court if I want to, and it gives me more freedom to do other things.

“Movement is really the key to modern tennis. It doesn’t matter how hard you hit the ball – if you are not there you are not going to be able to hit it.

“That is my strength today, and also I have more experience now. I have just kept improving every year. That’s always been the strategy.”

Despite his triumphs, Edberg has never lost the characteristic he shares with some of the old champions – Tilden, Kramer, Rosewall and Emerson, for instance – of continually working on his weaknesses and building up his strengths.

Many players would have been content to stick with the beautiful service action that to Edberg, from the moment he picked up a tennis racquet, has come so naturally. But the stress he places on his back and stomach by such an excessive arching of the body has caused him to break down (twice at the Australian Open, for example). And he has not been able to avoid serving lapses like the one that cost him victory against Ivan Lendl at the 1991 Australian Open, when he put in a spate of double-faults.

During Wimbledon it was noticed that he has shortened his ball-toss. In addition, he threw the ball more to the right than in the past and did not try to make it kick so much. He opted more for flat or slice serves than kickers.

“I’ve found the timing on my serve. I feel a lot more comfortable serving now, and that helps my game,” said Edberg, “because really my game hinges on my serve.”

Though at Wimbledon Edberg served beautifully up to his semi-final with eventual champion Michael Stich, and even there did not drop his delivery in going down 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6, his half-dozen double-faults were a little reminiscent of his trouble against Lendl in their semi-final at Flinders Park.

Edberg’s serve is integrated into his court speed. Nobody moves faster to the net from the moment of impact with the ball.

“That’s always an advantage I have had, maybe because my toss is quite a way forward, and a lot of guys throw it just straight up,” said Edberg.

“The thing with coming quickly to the net is timing, and you have to be very quick with your first two or three steps. That’s something I’ve worked on for years.”

No youngster could do better than try to emulate most facets of Edberg’s style, including his calm demeanor. His forehand may not be as brilliant as his classical backhand, but it is only a relative weakness. Stefan hits numerous winners with his forehand, too.

His wonderful shot-making, his speed and strength of character were seen at their best in his match with John McEnroe, whose vile temper and tantrums (which cost him a $US 10,000 fine for the cowardly abuse of a linesman) did not throw Stefan off his stride one iota. He is very close to being the complete champion.

Billie Jean King

From Love Thirty: Three Decades of Champions, by Rex Bellamy (published in 1990)

Like Ashe, Billie Jean King had a pioneering zeal that made her an inspiring leader of many causes. If there was no crusade available, she invented one. They included her campaign for parity of prize money and draw numbers between men and women; the introduction of professional ‘team tennis’ and the concept’s expansion to other levels of the game; her famous ‘Battle of the Sexes‘ with Bobby Riggs, an occasion that had implications and effects outweighing the showbiz razzmatazz; her role in forming the Women’s Sports Foundation and re-enforcing the women’s liberation movement; and a maze of associated business ventures. For all that, King will most obviously be remembered for her supreme tally of Wimbledon titles during a span of 23 years. She began that Wimbledon saga as ‘Little Miss Moffitt’ and ended it as a self-styled ‘Old Lady’ who seemed to be part of the furniture. By that time she had graduated to the same class of all-time Grand Slam champions as Helen Wills and Margaret Court. But neither of these (nor any other woman, for that matter) matched King’s revolutionary status. consequently, because of her combined achievements on and off court, she became the most important figure in the history of women’s tennis.

King’s father, an engineer in the Long Beach fire department was an all-around athlete but had no interest in tennis. Her mother was a good swimmer and her brother Randy became a major-league baseball pitcher. When she first played tennis, at the age of 11, King used a racket borrowed from a friend. Then she popped spare nickels and dimes into a jar until she had $8, which was all she needed to buy a racket from the local sports shop. She made the most of the free lessons available in pubic parks at Long Beach and seized the chance to study celebrities in action at Los Angeles. King particularly liked the serve-and-volley style of Louise Brough and at 15 she spent three months receiving weekend tuition from another one-time US and Wimbledon champion, Alice Marble, who had a similarly aggressive game. Aspiring climbers are taught not to reduce the leverage of fingers and toes by getting too close to the rock. For different reasons, Marble warned King not to get too close to the ball.

Moffitt spent three years at Los Angeles State College, where she met a law student called Larry King. They were to marry in 1965. Meantime she was developing a liking for Wimbledon. In 1961, aged 17, the tomboyish Moffitt won the Wimbledon doubles with Karen Hantze, 18. King built rapidly on that early success and in 1963 she reached the Wimbledon singles final. But the road to full-time tennis was rather bump in those days and King as 21 before she could press the accelerator hard down and keep it there. Late in 1964 Bob Mitchell, the Melbourne businessman who had previously helped Margaret Court, offered to pay King’s way to Australia, where Mervyn Rose improved her groundstrokes and service and put her through a sharpening programme of training and practice drills. With a remodeled game and a total commitment to the circuit, King brought increasing confidence and intensity to her 1965 campaign. Court stopped her in an Australian semi-final and US final. Bueno stopped her in a Wimbledon semi-final. But King had beaten both in previous years, before Rose brought a bloom to her tennis, and thee could no longer be any doubt that the Court-Bueno duopoly of grass was not going to last much longer.
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Novak Djokovic with Wimbledon trophy

Djokovic sponsors took to Twitter to celebrate his third Wimbledon title, and given the low number of retweets for such big brands, some of them should hire new social media managers and rethink their sponsorship strategy. Let’s have a look at Djokovic sponsors messages on Twitter:

Uniqlo

adidas

Peugeot

Head

Seiko

Social media are a really powerful and cheap way to reach fans and consumers, but Uniqlo, adidas, Head and co failed to promote their champion and their product. The number of retweets and favorites is really low (only 3 retweets for Uniqlo UK!) and it’s not really surprising as these tweets share the same flaws:

bad timing: social media activity reaches his peak during the match and the trophy ceremony, so why wait the next day to react and engage with the fans? That’s what Uniqlo, Peugeot and Seiko did. Peugeot even shared a link to their online game, available only two days later; that really makes no sense.

bad use of hashtags: no hashtags in Seiko’s tweet, no #Wimbledon hashtag for Uniqlo UK and Head, no #NovakDjokovic hashtag or @djokernole mention by adidas, while Peugeot use #TeamDjoko in the picture but #NoleFam in the message…

no call to action: only Peugeot shared a link to their online game. Both Uniqlo and adidas should have added a link to their online store, to buy Novak’s outfit and shoes.

no storytelling: as you can see, Djokovic sponsors (except Seiko) chose a simple message and picture to congratulate their champion: no use of twitter video, vine or gif. Only adidas and Head put a little effort in the image used, while Uniqlo UK’s picture is of such a bad quality you can’t even see clearly the logo on Djokovic jacket. The texts are really bland and Peugeot’s message is quite confusing: “a great opportunity to play on grass”.

On the contrary, Nike did a really good job with their Serena Williams celebratory tweet:

The picture shows the swoosh, the “Just do it” slogan and the Nike Court logo, the green color suggests Wimbledon, while the text sums Serena’s Grand Slams wins. Only things missing are #justdoit and #Wimbledon hashtags as well as a link to buy Serena Williams dress or NikeCourt Flare shoes.
The result: 2,200 retweets and 2,700 faves; that’s more than Uniqlo, adidas, Head, Peugeot and Seiko’s numbers combined.

Also read:
adidas and Novak Djokovic: the one that got away
Social media, the star of Wimbledon 2014
Twitter and Wimbledon 2014: what have the players been up to?

Novak Djokovic, Wimbledon 2015

No problem for Djokovic who defeats reigning US Open champion Marin Cilic in straight sets 6-4 6-4 6-4. He’ll face Richard Gasquet for a place in final.

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Richard Gasquet, Wimbledon 2015

Richard Gasquet has never been known for his fighting qualities, but he proved everybody wrong with his come-from-behind victory over French Open champion Stan Wawrinka 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-4 11-9! He is through the semifinals of a Grand Slam for only the third time of his career after Wimbledon in 2007 and the US Open in 2013.

Richard Gasquet

Stan Wawrinka

Richard Gasquet

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Roger Federer, Wimbledon 2015

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Roger Federer

Roger Federer

Roger Federer

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