It’s that time of the year, even though we’re basically already into the Round of 32, but it’s Wimbledon time. The greatest tennis tournament and possibly the most exciting sporting event of the summer, excluding the World Cup this year and the Home Run Derby depending on who participates, is in full swing as we begin July.
I’ve never been obsessed with tennis, but every year when tennis’s best take to the grass courts of Wimbledon, I make sure to keep my eyes glued to the TV.
Wimbledon is unlike any sporting tournament, even the Masters. There is the long, illustrious history, the clapping after points are scored or when a player challenges a line call, strawberries and cream, Henman Hill and the all-white dress required for all players.
There is something so elegant about Wimbledon, something so timeless. It’s the one tournament where some of the greats of the game could be upset by an unseeded player on Centre Court and it’s viewed as normal. All of that is great, but there’s one problem: I’m an American.
While the Williams sisters have dominated the women’s game, the men have been ghosts since Andy Roddick fell out of relevancy.
The men are like the Washington Nationals. They have such high expectations, but year after year, they fall short and no one is surprised. Expectations and reality are two different things.
There are no household names in American men’s tennis anymore. You don’t hear people talk about John Isner, Sam Querrey or Jack Sock, even though all three were seeded in the top-20.
I didn’t even know Sock lost until I checked the singles draw on the Wimbledon website while writing this piece, which is really bad since he was seeded 18th.
Luckily for America, the ninth-seeded Isner and eleventh seeded Querrey did advance to the round of 32.
I can also guarantee that if I polled 100 sports fans, less than 10 would know who Sam Querrey is and maybe one would know he reached the semi-final of last year’s Wimbledon, defeating top seeded Andy Murray after trailing two sets to one.
Why don’t they know him or any American men’s singles player?
It’s because there was a period of time between 2009-2017 where no American men’s singles player reached the semi-final of a Grand Slam tournament, and between 2011-2016, no American men’s singles player reached the quarterfinal of Grand Slam.
Essentially, for almost a decade, the Americans went dark.
But I kept rooting for them because I love a good underdog story. It’s fun to root for a 6 ft. 10 in. tennis player from Tampa who can serve a tennis ball 130 mph and record 60+ aces in a single match. Isner, the tall man, is also the winner of the longest match in Wimbledon history.
Now, there are the fresh faces, like Frances Tiafoe, a 20-year old born in College Park, Maryland, who has risen to No. 52 in the ATP rankings, the fourth-youngest player ranked in the Top 100, who reached the third round of Wimbledon.
It seems like there is so much hope, but yet, there is always that grim reality that somehow, someway, an American man will never win a Wimbledon singles title, or and Grand Slam title.
To be honest, as much as Serena has dominated the women’s game over the past decade and more, you get to a point, much like Patriots fans, where either reaching the final or winning the championship for these tournaments is normal, and nothing less is expected.
Maybe, just maybe, they’re going to be the ones that save me. Shoutout the timeless classic “Wonderwall” by Oasis.