Wimbledon’s first day of competition began today in the wake of the historic “Brexit” decision, with Novak Djokovic looking to win his third title in a row.
Djokovic, who has won Wimbledon each of the last two years, was out to an early lead over James Ward of the United Kingdom. Djokovic, from Serbia, has won both the Australian Open and Roland Garros events this year, and is looking to add a Wimbledon title for his third Grand Slam victory of the season. Roger Federer, who lost to Djokovic in the finals last year, is looking for his eighth Wimbledon victory as he takes on Argentina’s Guido Pella.
Djokovic has already won all four of the sport’s major events in his career, but he could complete the season Grand Slam with a victory at Wimbledon and at the U.S. Open in New York in September. He has won 12 Grand Slam titles, including winning Wimbledon each of the last two years.
“The situation this year is quite different because I’m coming in with a Roland Garros title for the first time. That gives me a lot of confidence.”
Women’s defending champion Serena Williams, who has won Wimbledon six times, faces off later today against Switzerland’s Amra Sadikovic. Assuming they both keep winning, Serena could ultimately face her sister, Venus, who currently holds a 3-2 lead over Donna Vekic of Croatia. Venus, who has won Wimbledon five times, lost to Serena in the finals in 2012 and 2013.
2004 Wimbledon champion, Maria Sharapova, was suspended for two years recently after testing positive for a banned substance. Sharapova is appealing the decision, but she is not at Wimbledon. “I cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension. The tribunal, whose members were selected by the ITF, agreed that I did not do anything intentionally wrong, yet they seek to keep me from playing tennis for two years.”
Much of the discussion at Wimbledon involves Britain’s recent decision to leave the Eurpean Union (“Brexit”). Wimbledon players are largely staying out of it.
Scotland’s Andy Murray, 2013 Wimbledon champion, wouldn’t be drawn into the discussion.
“I’m not discussing that today. I have followed it very closely. Yeah, stayed up pretty late on whatever night it was, last night into the morning. But, yeah, I’m not discussing that today, unfortunately.”
Britain’s Johanna Konta recently pointed out that it wasn’t a discussion that was getting in the way of her Wimbledon training.
“The thing is, with the tour, you’re very much in your own little bubble. I haven’t really watched much news.”
Federer, who has won Wimbledon seven times, offered reporters little to go on by acknowledging the gravity of the situation.
“Of course, I followed it. It’s an historic day. I don’t even want to think about the negotiations that go into it now. For you [British] guys, it’s going to be years of negotiations. It’s definitely interesting times ahead. It’s nice to have democracy here, that you have an opportunity to vote. It’s a beautiful thing. Many people went out and did that. They took a decision. Now you have to make necessary steps.”
Wimbledon players hail from all over the world, but the Brexit news has crept into this event regardless of home country.
Wimbledon kicks off today and lasts for two weeks. Though Wimbledon is usually a large enough attention-grabber in its own right, Brexit has brought the spotlight of the world along with it, making this year’s event especially unique.
[Photo by Alastair Grant/AP Images]