From disappointment to victory for Liu


American junior Claire Liu, 17, made it to the French Open junior final last month.

But in losing to countrywoman Whitney Osuigwe, two years younger, there was disappointment.

Liu got on the grass, and got on a roll. She won the tuneup event at Roehampton without dropping a set. And then she won the Wimbledon juniors, beating another American, Ann Li, in a three-set final.

Liu’s currently WTA Tour ranking is inside the top 300. But at this point she has a decision to make that faces most girls her age – college, or not?

Henin gets Hall of Fame ring


Justine Henin was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame last summer.

She finally got her ring this week at Wimbledon.

It was a little special, Henin said, because Wimbledon was the one Grand Slam she never won.

Henin’s countrywoman Kim Clijsters is set to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in a few weeks. Two from a small country like Belgium is the motherlode.

Clijsters is playing the Wimbledon legends invitational this week; they really need to get Henin on board for 2018.

Ladies’ legends go wild at Wimbledon


Some of the lady legends take the invitational event kind of seriously.

Others kind of get the point.

And so when a portly fellow from the audience Friday wanted to play, Kim Clijsters – who could barely talk, she was laughing so hard – obliged.

The players got the man all kitted out in white, so as not to have the Wimbledon underwear police out tut-tutting. And off they went.

It’s hard to know who enjoyed it more: the crowd, the man himself, or Clijsters. Probably a three-way tie.

Pre-match head banging for Rafa


It’s not funny, even if Rafael Nadal had a good chuckle about it with opponent Gilles Muller before entering No. 1 Court for their fourth-round match Monday.

In doing his usual pre-match jumping thing, Nadal misjudged his surroundings. (perhaps because he’s not played on No. 1 Court all that much in recent years).

He ended up banging his head – hard, on the top of the doorway.

Nadal quickly went out and lost the first two sets to Muller, the No. 16 seed and fellow lefty who is on a fine run of grass form.

Agassi talks Nole – and Lavazza


As it happens, Andre Agassi is a Lavazza (coffee) ambassador. And Lavazza is an official Wimbledon sponsor.

And so the super-coach of Novak Djokovic was happy to do an interview with the Wimbledon Channel, with the sponsor’s logo displayed in the background.

It’s all very synergistic. Agassi sponsor Longines also is a French Open sponsor. And he did similar things there when he first joined forces with Djokovic.

The American tennis icon is taking no coaching salary. But he’s maximizing his Slam sponsor opportunities, so it’s all working out.

Masters Green = Wimbledon Green


It’s not the first time Wimbledon and The Masters, golf’s pre-eminent invitational tournament and one of the four golf majors, have been compared.

There’s the perfect landscaping, the lush lawns, the hushed tones, the longstanding traditions, and the slightly snooty air both can have at times.

It turns out, too, that the two tournaments’ tastes in green are … identical.

Check out Masters champion Sergio Garcia, in the Royal Box Friday. Wearing his green jacket (did they ask him to wear it? You wonder), he practically blends into the green seats.

Konta wins, dispenses big hug


Johanna Konta isn’t necessarily the warmest, fuzziest one out there.

But after prevailing in a brilliant and sporting three-hour battle with Donna Vekic of Croatia Wednesday on Centre Court at Wimbledon, it was pretty clear her 21-year-old opponent needed a hug.

And so Konta gave her one. A pretty great one, actually, as Vekic burst into tears.

Vekic gave it everything before going down 10-8 in the third set on a very hot, very humid day. And then she played doubles.

Queue fun with Judy Murray


Those long hours whiling away the time in the queue until fans can enter the All-England Club are being made far more entertaining with the help of Judy Murray.

Andy and Jamie’s mum has been out on what they call Court 20 most days.

Thursday, she and former Brit star Tim Henman will be coaching 30 grade-school kids from a Wimbledon Foundation-supported charity.

Early Wednesday, she gave former Strictly Come Dancing (U.K. version of Dancing with the Stars) partner Anton du Beke a tennis lesson.

Venus’ Wimbledon debut – 20 years ago


Exactly 20 years ago Wednesday, a 17-year-old named Venus Williams made her debut at Wimbledon.

Williams, so good so young, never had to play the qualifying. She was ranked No. 59 when she went out to face No. 91, Poland’s Magdalena Grzybowska.

Grzybowska won, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Three years later, she won the first of her five titles. In the video, Venus said she would have “many more”. Who knew she would have 19 more – and counting?

Grzybowska, the 1996 Australian Open junior champ, reached a career high of No. 30. Still only 38, she’s been retired nearly 15 years after knee problems.

Brit Evans announces positive cocaine test (updated)


When Dan Evans, the No. 50 player on the ATP Tour and the No. 3 Brit behind Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund, announced a press conference for Friday afternoon, the first thought was that he was pulling out of Wimbledon.

That’s not normally grist for a full press conference. But a week before the big event, in London, it made sense. He had already pulled out of Queen’s Club this week and next week’s tournament in Eastbourne, allegedly due to injury.

But Evans had far bigger news to announce. 

He was found positive for cocaine during an anti-doping test back in April, at the Barcelona ATP Tour event.

He read from a statement at the Novotel Hammersmith, a hotel near where the Queen’s Club tournament is going on this week (via the Daily Mail)

‘This is a very difficult day for me and I wanted to come here in person and tell you face-to-face I was notified a few days ago that I failed a drugs test in April, where I tested positive for cocaine.

“It is really important that you know this was taken out of competition and the context completely unrelated to tennis. I made a mistake and I must face up to it. And I do not condone for one second to anyone that this was acceptable behaviour. I have let a lot of people down – my family, my coach, my team, sponsors, British tennis and my fans.

“I can only deeply apologize from the bottom of my heart. It is a sad and humbling experience. I hope you understand I will not be taking any questions and I thank you for your support of my career to date.”

Here is the statement from the ITF:


So Evans is only suspended as of Monday – which may well have been when the ITF planned to announce it. But, like Maria Sharapova before him, the Brit decided to get ahead of the curve and announce it himself.

Evans is only the second well-known player to test positive for cocaine and get the book thrown at him. He follows in the infamous tracks of Martina Hingis, the former No. 1 who, a year into a comeback as a singles player in 2007, also announced a positive test for a small amount of the illegal substance. The test occurred, as it happened, during Wimbledon. She was issued a two-year ban.

That seems to be the standard time frame. So it’s likely what Evans is looking at.

France’s Richard Gasquet failed a test for cocaine in 2009. But he was able to convince the independent tribunal of the “unique circumstances” (it’s a good story) and ended up being suspended just 2 1/2 months.

Hingis insisted she was innocent.

“I have tested positive but I have never taken drugs and I feel 100 per cent innocent. The reason I have come out with this is because I do not want to have a fight with anti-doping authorities,” she said at the time. “Because of my age and my health problems I have also decided to retire from professional tennis. … I have no desire to spend the next seven years fighting doping officials. I’m frustrated and angry. Accusations such as these don’t provide me with the motivation to continue.”

Hingis, of course, returned and later became No. 1 in doubles.

Evans did not deny it. And he does have some history

Early patterns changed – until …

Nearly a decade ago, he and fellow Brit Daniel Smethurst were caught out partying at a club at 3 a.m., the night (morning?) before their junior doubles match at Wimbledon. The censure wasn’t all that serious – a four-month suspension of his funding from the British Lawn Tennis Association. Although that was a record. It probably wasn’t the smartest move to hang at a club in the centre of Wimbledon village – where the population of tennis people swells to gigantic proportions during the Championships, and where he was sure to be seen by someone.

Then again, Evans made plenty of bonehead moves in his youth. But after years of seeming not to take his tennis seriously enough, he has come on and reached a career best singles ranking of No. 41 back in March.

The 27-year-old reached the fourth round at the Australian Open after reaching the final of the Sydney tuneup event the week before. Since then, he has won more than one match at an ATP Tour-level event only once.

Ironically, that came in Barcelona, where he failed the doping test.