The global media has been only too happy to supply the back story, noting that Sharapova’s boyfriend, 22-year-old Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, had previously been linked to Williams. Dimitrov is a former pupil of Frenchman Patrick Mouratoglou, Williams’s current coach and presumptive new flame.
Williams informed reporters over the weekend that she had apologized to Sharapova in person for the remarks, which appeared in the same interview in which she questioned the judgment of a 16-year-old rape victim from Steubenville, Ohio.
Assuming both confine further remarks to tennis, the biggest fireworks at Wimbledon this year should come on the men’s side, which boasts four credible contenders for the championships.
Djokovic is the deserved top seed and has the easiest path to the final. But it’s unclear how he’ll rebound from a soul-sapping five-set defeat to Nadal in the semifinals of the French. Murray, the No. 2 seed, appears fully fit after a month’s break to ease an ailing back. And then there is Federer and Nadal.
The wrinkle in the seeding was caused by the hard-working David Ferrer, who recently vaulted ahead of Nadal in the world rankings. Though Wimbledon officials had latitude to tweak the seeding rather than slavishly adhere to the rankings, they didn’t. And that’s how Nadal was seeded fifth, placing him in Federer’s quarter of the draw and putting the two on track to meet earlier than they ever have in a Grand Slam tournament.
Nadal, however, is playing nothing like the game’s fifth-best player. He has reached the final of all nine tournaments he has entered since returning from a seven-month hiatus to address tendinitis in his left knee. And he won seven of those nine, including a straight-sets thrashing of Ferrer to claim a record eighth French Open title.
If Federer and Nadal advance to the final eight, it will surely be the most compelling quarterfinal in Grand Slam history. Nadal holds a 20-10 advantage in the rivalry and has won their last five Grand Slam meetings. But Federer has a way of defying time on Wimbledon’s Centre Court.
The victor’s path gets no easier. His reward would likely be a semifinal against Murray, with Djokovic, the 2011 Wimbledon champion, his probable opponent in the final.
Still, Nadal accepted his lot with grace, as did Federer.
“I like tough draws,” Federer told reporters at the All England club Sunday. “If you want to win the tournament here, you have to beat the best. That’s what I’m here for. I’m very happy to be back, no doubt about it. It’s always a privilege.”