The longest, looniest Wimbledon in years has ended. Serena Williams is a champion again. So is Rafael Nadal (for more on that, visit my colleague Peter Bodo
). And tennis, as always, is moving—somewhere. Here are 15 things that (I think) we learned these past two weeks.
1. Rafael Nadal is every bit as complete a player as Roger Federer. And right now, he's better. By a good margin.
2. Age can be a benefit. Just ask Tracy Austin, 47, and Kathy Rinaldi-Stunkel, 43, who beat Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova, both 29, in the semifinals of the legends doubles tournament. (They lost in the final to Martina Navratilova and Jana Novotna.)
3. Serena Williams might lose at a Grand Slam tournament, but she won't do it in a final. She's 13-3 in major finals after her victory here. Two of those losses were to her sister.
4. The Czech Republic is a tennis hotbed. Tomas Berdych reached the final, Petra Kvitova reached the semifinals, and Kristyna Pliskova won the girls' singles tournament. Hey, wasn't there once a talented woman named Vaidisova from that country?
5. Roof? Who needs a roof? It never rains in London. Ever.
6. Aces are overrated. John Isner led the tournament with 113 aces. Nicolas Mahut was third with 103. All of those aces were hit in the first round.
7. Tennis is getting bigger. Marat Safin used to be an anomaly. Now we have multiple men in the Safin mold: Tomas Berdych, Juan Martin del Potro, Marin Cilic, Sam Querrey and on. The question is, will more of them win major titles?
8. Venus Williams is more unpredictable than ever. Now 30 years old, Venus had her worst Wimbledon since 2006, when she lost in the third round. This can only mean one thing: She's going to win the U.S. Open.
9. Roger Federer can't break every record. When the new rankings are released Monday, Federer will sit at No. 3. He's one week from tying Pete Sampras' all-time record for weeks at No. 1. Will he get there?
10. Maria Sharapova is back. I loved what I saw from Sharapova at this tournament. She couldn't beat Serena Williams, but she tested her. Most important, she served hard and fairly consistently. It seems that her right shoulder is healthy again. This is good news for the women's game.
11. Comebacks ain't as easy as they seem. Kim Clijsters won the U.S. Open last year, but she has struggled since then. Justine Henin is having an even more difficult time. The Belgian fell and injured her elbow at this tournament and won't return until after the U.S. Open.
12. Tennis players aren't soft. John Isner and Nicolas Mahut needed 11 hours to settle their first-round match. Andy Roddick said Isner's toes "looked like deli meat" after the marathon had ended. He still played his second-round match. Mahut played doubles and will play in Newport, R.I., this week.
13. Queen Elizabeth II likes tennis. Maybe we'll see her here in another 30 years.
14. Winning Wimbledon and the French Open back to back? Nothing to it. It's happened the last three years after not happening since 1980, when Bjorn Borg did it for the third consecutive year. As Rafael Nadal said, "So how crazy is the life?"
15. Serena Williams has the best serve in women's tennis. She hit 89 aces here, a Wimbledon record.
And here's one more for good measure: Tennis is unpredictable (Roger Federer lost two sets to Alejandro Falla in the first round; Vera Zvonareva won a close match). Yet it's also predictable (Rafael Nadal plays better than anyone on important points; Serena Williams doesn't tolerate defeat). The fact that both of these things are true is the reason we love tennis so much. If Wimbledon taught us anything this year, it's that the game is worth watching, because something astounding will happen—eventually (and maybe often). In all the years this game has been played, that's never changed. Here's hoping it never does.
Thanks for reading these past two weeks, and see you soon.