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The Wimbledon Epilogue: Alizé Cornet revisits Serena stunner after Andreescu upset, teases book release
Playing her 58th straight Grand Slam main draw, Cornet aims to release an English translation of her autobiography in time for a fourth Olympic appearance.
Published Jun 30, 2021
WATCH: Cornet first defeated Andreescu in Belin ahead of their Wimbledon clash
Making her 58th consecutive Grand Slam main-draw appearance, Alizé Cornet is on the verge of an Open Era record, but as her 6-2, 6-1 Wimbledon demolition of No. 5 seed Bianca Andreescu implies, the Frenchwoman isn’t playing for participation trophies.
“Of course, I’m aiming for more because I’m an ambitious player,” Cornet insisted after knocking out the 2019 US Open champion for the second time in three weeks.
“This year I feel particularly comfortable on grass. I don’t know why, maybe it’s because I had such a bad clay season! From my first steps on the grass in Berlin, I felt like I belong on this surface. This wasn’t the case in the past.”
There was a time when Cornet went two years without winning a match on the slick surface that not only claimed 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams but also her countryman Adrian Mannarino, both of whom retired on Tuesday after taking awkward tumbles.
“I used to slip a lot when I was younger because I didn’t know how to run on it,” she said in her post-match press conference. “Now, I think I’ve found the thing; I’m much lighter in my steps, though I saw on TV that many players are struggling. For my part, I was fine with it today, so I’m just happy I didn’t find myself on the ground this time.”
Experience also aided in ousting Andreescu, whom she beat in Berlin to kick off her successful grass-court swing.
“I’m the kind of player that needs to know where I’m going,” she muses. “I watched some images from this match with my coach, to see what I did well and also what she was struggling with on grass. I definitely used this match to play even better than I did in Berlin, much more solid. I think it’s important to use your previous experiences to make good tactics.”
With a wealth of experience from which to draw, the 31-year-old made her Grand Slam debut at Roland Garros in 2005 and officially began her streak two years later in Melbourne. Very few players remain on tour from that time, a fact Cornet credits to a combination of good health and consistency.
“I think the secret to playing 58 Grand Slams in a row is that I don’t get injured that much,” she tells me later, “which is a miracle because when you think of what you put your body through the whole year: the travel and practices and suffering.
“I’ve also managed to maintain a very consistent level over the years. I’ve never been out of the Top 100 and most of the time I’ve been Top 50. This is a prize for me.”
My socks had a few blue lines on them, so the umpire asked if I could wear another pair for the next match. After I won I told her, ‘Now they’re lucky charm socks, so I’m not sure I want to change!’ Alizé Cornet
Bigger prizes—chief among them a maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal—have been as yet elusive for a fan favorite who achieved cult status when she shocked Williams at SW19 to reach the fourth round in 2014. Over the course of her streak, she has reached the second week at a major tournament five times; though she came closest to the last eight at the 2009 Australian Open, the epic three-setter on No. 1 Court is undeniably her signature result.
“That was definitely not like today,” she said when asked to compare that moment to Wednesday’s Andreescu upset. “Serena is one of the best players in the world—especially on grass—and it was a heck of a match with a lot of intensity and drama. I think Bianca needs more time to adapt her game to the surface. I think it’s only her fourth match on this surface, and I’ve been playing on grass for 15 years, so my experience definitely helped me today.
“Still, a Top 10 victory at Wimbledon is always a thrill, and I’m very happy that the journey continues.”
Cornet immortalized most of that journey in an autobiography titled Sans Compris, which she is currently translating into English for a projected Olympic release. Set to make a fourth appearance at the Summer Games, the former world No. 11 admits much has changed since she first wrote the book in 2019.
“It was a pre-COVID world, so some things sound very crazy in the past. I enjoyed writing it so much. It took me four months and I wanted it to be more like a diary than a real autobiography, something that chronicles my life and experiences; good and bad; victories and losses. The style is very easy to read, so I think you’re going to enjoy it.”
The book unsurprisingly meditates on her 2014 Wimbledon campaign, a moment that has to this point played a defining role in both life and career.
“My favorite moment has to be match point, when I won and turned around to my team, who were like this [shrug] and jumping up on their feet. They knew what I’d been through in the couple of days before the match. It was such a relief, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt emotions as strongly as in that moment, before or since.”
Cornet has already enjoyed a novel-length life on tour. Still alive at the All England Club, she now aims to write an unforgettable epilogue.