Marie Bouzkova enjoyed a thrilling conclusion to her 23rd trip around the sun, and will celebrate her 24th birthday on Thursday having finally made a breakthrough result at a Grand Slam tournament.

The former junior US Open champion has been one to watch since she took a set from Serena Williams in the semifinals of their 2019 Rogers Cup clash, but the affable Czech struggled to translate her all-court game to the sport’s biggest stages.

That all changed when she arrived at Wimbledon fresh off playing Serena for the second time—enduring another narrow loss, this time in doubles alongside good friend Sara Sorribes Tormo—and having recovered from a brutal bout with COVID-19.

Dealt a difficult draw, Bouzkova buzzed through the field with wins over No. 7 seed Danielle Collins, American hot shot Ann Li, and grass-court specialist Alison Riske to reach the second week of a major tournament for the first time in her career.


She maintained that momentum in sparkling form to defeat former world No. 4 Caroline Garcia and move into the last eight, where she bowed out in three sets to Ons Jabeur.

“Priceless, honestly,” she said of the Centre Court experience. “I enjoyed it so much. Yeah, never got a chance, you know, to play like at this kind of stage, other tournament, quarterfinals. I got the chance to play at Arthur Ashe and Rod Laver, those were like first-round matches.

“Now obviously playing quarterfinal, against an amazing player, was just a really big experience for me today. Honestly, I can just take positives from this match, from this week. You know, already looking forward to build on it.

“I just hope I will work hard again and hopefully get another chance to play at this level at this stage of a tournament.”

The notion of players “deserving” certain results is often bandied about in analytical circles, particularly after one has endured a great deal of adversity. But from every interaction with Bouzkova, it’s safe to say that few have been kinder in their climb up the ladder to success. If that doesn’t make her deserving of a Wimbledon quarterfinal and more, I don’t know what does.

And so, on your 24th birthday, here’s to many happy returns…of serve!