Welcome to Wimbledon Flashbacks, where wtatennis.com will take a look at some of the most memorable stories from The Championships in the past 20 years.
For more classic moments, check out our other Wimbledon flashbacks:
1999: The Dokic qualifier sends the best seed Hingis to the stunner in the first round
1999: Stevenson drops Raymond into the 1999 American thriller
2003: Navratilova shows her class at 46 to win the 20 title alongside Paes
2005: Venus, Davenport vie for the classic clash in the fascinating 2005 finale
2006: Mauresmo shows his courage to defeat Henin and win Wimbledon
2007: Bartoli arrives at the great moment with the amazing upheaval of Wimbledon
2009: Safina, Mauresmo christens the roof of the Center Court with the epic of Manic Monday
2010: Pironkova overcomes “impossible”, doubles on the magic of Wimbledon
2012: Immaculate Shvedova unlocks the historic gold set
2013: Lisicki’s upset peak reaches the 2013 Wimbledon final
2015: Hingis, Mirza dominates Wimbledon in the historical triumph
2017: Rybarikova’s return stuns Pliskova in 2017 to Cinderella
2019: From qualifying to Center Court, Gauff’s star rises to SW19
THE MOMENT: It’s one of the most told stories in the open era: Maria Sharapova wins Wimbledon at 17.
The Russian, who emigrated from Siberia to Florida a decade earlier, fulfills his destiny by siding in his first Grand Slam final as seed no. 13, passing the former world number 1 Lindsay Davenport in a semifinal interrupted by the rain, booking a championship game with Serena Williams’ top seed.
Williams was looking for a third Wimbledon crown and his first major title since a knee injury ended the 2003 season, a season that started with the first of the two “Serena” slams of the non-solar year. She also gathered from a semi-final set, surviving future Wimbledon champion Amélie Mauresmo in a 6-4 final set.
Sharapova last played at Williams at the Miami Open, where the American triumphed in consecutive streaks on the way to the title, but had started to climb the WTA rankings seriously later that spring, reaching her first quarter of final at Roland Garros and his first title of the grass season in Birmingham.
The young man led an 11-game winning streak in the Wimbledon final, and even against the best in the game, he did not lack confidence. At 17, Sharapova was not hampered by the shoulder injuries that would soon afflict her, and she could go for any serve with gusto – often opting for a second “first” serve that Williams struggled to read when the game started.
Center Court witnessed an almost perfect set of Sharapova, who broke the serve twice to move into six games of the Venus Rosewater Dish. Williams rebounded in his inimitable manner, taking the lead 4-1 in the second before the Russian gathered and the two fought in a titanic ninth game.
Williams saved the breakpoints and, with the ability to hold 5-4, moved smoothly to the net just for Sharapova to pull off a bold lob. “Usually my lobs suck,” said the teenager chuckling at Bud Collins after the game.
Breaking service with a brief return that left the future Grand Slam champion unbalanced 23 times, Sharapova entered three more powerful services to reach the championship point, ensuring victory shortly after, when a deep forehand forced the response of Williams to the network.
What happened next completes that often told story, the one that Sharapova herself remembers in her memoir, Unstoppable: my life so far. He kneels, runs to the stands to embrace his team – then led by Father Yuri, who had brought his daughter to the United States for only $ 700 dollars so she could enter a prestigious academy and one day become a champion. She tries to call her mother, who was prevented from making that first trip to Florida due to visa restrictions, only to be hampered by poor reception – later by signing an approval agreement with Motorola.
Her resemblance to the peasant Anna Kournikova made it wonder if she too would have difficulty winning singles titles. His victory in the All England Club showed that he was not only here to stay, but also, combined with Anastasia Myskina’s Roland Garros victory and the victory of the US Open by Svetlana Kuznetsova has yet to arrive, at the forefront of the Russian revolution.
THE MEANING: At the time, Kournikova was among the highest paid sports, only surpassed by the Williams sisters. Once Sharapova brought the Wimbledon trophy home, she would become – according to Forbes magazine – the highest paid female athlete for eleven consecutive years, setting a new standard for extrajudicial earnings with an enviable portfolio of specializations.
Her business prowess led her to launch Sugarpova, a premium candy line, in 2013; part of the proceeds support its namesake Maria Sharapova Foundation.
On the field, she closed her turn in 2004 with a victory at the WTA championships in Los Angeles, and would become the first from her country to rise to the world no. 1 the following summer.
The victories at the 2006 US Open and the 2008 Australian Open showed Sharapova at the height of her powers; A shoulder surgery in 2008 forced the Russian to reinvent himself in the main clay court specialist of the tour with two French Open titles that gave her a box of single Grand Slam trophies.
Undaunted by the defeat, Williams would never lose against Sharapova after 2004, winning a 2005 Australian Open semifinal which defined the rivalry in which the American saved the meeting points en route to the sixth Grand Slam title. They met again in three other important finals and Williams won all three consecutive series.
Williams and Sharapova played for the last time at the US Open 2019, with the Russian announcing her retirement from sport in February citing persistent injury.