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Serena Williams faces fellow mum Evgeniya Rodina in Wimbledon last 16

  • Posted: Jul 08, 2018
Wimbledon 2018 on the BBC
Venue: All England Club, Wimbledon Dates: 2-15 July
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, Connected TVs and the BBC Sport website and app; Live Radio 5 live and 5 live sports extra commentary; Text commentary online.

They are worlds apart in terms of titles and profile but 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams and qualifier Evgeniya Rodina, who meet in the Wimbledon fourth round on Monday, have one big thing in common.

Both are mothers – Williams’ daughter Olympia is just 10 months old, Rodina’s little girl Anna is five and a half years old.

And the number of women who have returned to the professional game after taking time out to have children is still small enough that the presence of two mums at this stage of a Grand Slam remains a relative novelty.

Rodina, whose surname means ‘motherland’ in her native Russian, is enjoying her best ever Grand Slam performance, having never previously got beyond the second round.

Williams, meanwhile, is chasing an eighth Wimbledon singles title and with just one of the top 10 women’s seeds left in the draw she is becoming a lot of people’s favourite to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish.

The 36-year-old American’s return to tennis has been to great fanfare – she has been the subject of a documentary, her daughter already has her own Instagram account and Williams’ every match has been scrutinised for signs that she can return to her best form.

Rodina, 29, meanwhile, has a two-and-a-half-line personal biography on the WTA website, which says she likes swimming, listening to music and reading Dostoevsky.

Williams’ form looks ominous for rivals

It would be an incredible comeback for Williams to win the Wimbledon title just 10 months after giving birth, a difficult delivery during which, she has said, she “almost died”.

“It’s amazing for me to be out here. A year ago I was still pregnant,” said Williams, who won the 2017 Australian Open while around eight weeks pregnant. “Then my delivery took a turn south fast, so that wasn’t fun.

“But it’s that that makes me appreciate that I’m out here, that I’m alive, that I’m able to be here and do well and to play well.”

She returned to competitive singles in March and reached the last 16 at French Open but withdrew from her scheduled match against Maria Sharapova with a pectoral muscle injury that affected her serving.

She did not practise any serves from then until she arrived at the All England Club but she has still delivered the second fastest serve of the women’s tournament so far at 119mph, second only to her sister Venus’ 123mph.

It is not just her serves that have improved; her movement around the court is quicker than in her slightly laboured first-round victory over Arantxa Rus.

And in her third-round victory over Kristina Mladenovic she showed she still had the mental strength and desire to fight back when she won six games in a row from 5-3 down in the first set.

It all looks a little ominous for the rest of a women’s draw in which only Czech seventh seed Karolina Pliskova remains of the the top 10.

More mums on Tour

Williams is asked about her daughter and being a mum at every news conference, so rare is it for a woman at the very top of the game to take time out to have a baby.

Only three mothers have won Grand Slam titles in the Open era – Belgium’s Kim Clijsters and Australians Evonne Goolagong Cawley and Margaret Court.

Williams has backed Victoria Azarenka’s call for more childcare facilities at tournaments and hopes that Wimbledon’s decision to give her a seeding despite her world ranking of 181 will also help players if they want to start families younger.

“I think it will be nice to see ladies live their life and not start having families at my age,” she said.

“I think Wimbledon did such a good thing with the seeding. It will be really nice for these women to take a year off, and have the most amazing thing in the world, then come back to their job and not have to start from the bottom, scrape, scrape, scrape. Still give them an opportunity to be out there for bringing life into the world.”

Rodina had her daughter when she was 23, a year after she had reached a career-high ranking of 74. She then dropped outside the top 400 and has been working her way back up since – she has climbed back to 120 in the world.

Of the six mothers in the singles main draw at Wimbledon this year, Kateryna Bondarenko, Tatjana Maria, Vera Zvonareva and Azarenka are out. But with Williams facing Rodina, there will still be one there in the quarter-finals.

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Wimbledon 2018: Roger Federer, Serena Williams & Rafael Nadal play on Manic Monday

  • Posted: Jul 08, 2018
Wimbledon 2018 on the BBC
Venue: All England Club, Wimbledon Dates: 2-15 July
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, Connected TVs and the BBC Sport website and app; Live Radio 5 live and 5 live sports extra commentary; Text commentary online.

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams will all be in action on ‘Manic Monday’ at Wimbledon.

With all of the men’s and women’s last 16 singles ties taking place, it is one of the most exciting days in the tennis calendar.

Defending champion Federer faces French 22nd seed Adrian Mannarino while two-time champion Nadal plays Jiri Vesely.

Seven-time winner Williams, the favourite for the women’s title, plays Russian qualifier Evgeniya Rodina.

Three-time champion Novak Djokovic will play Karen Khachanov while Gael Monfils meets eighth seed Kevin Anderson.

Karolina Pliskova, the only remaining women’s top 10 seed, plays world number 20 Kiki Bertens.

  • Why are so many seeds out of Wimbledon?
  • Live scores, schedule and results

Federer expecting ‘strategic’ match

Federer made serene progress through the first three rounds, extending his run of consecutive sets won at Wimbledon to 29 as he bids for a record-extending ninth men’s title.

The Swiss swept aside big-hitting Jan-Lennard Struff in one hour and 34 minutes in round three but said he is pleased at the variety of opponents he has played so far.

“It’s good that I faced different types of opponents I think in this first week, and was able to find a way to get through,” Federer said.

“I think it’s always helpful. He is a hard hitter. In the next round it will be a lefty. It will be much more of a strategic match, I believe.”

Nadal, another player who is yet to drop a set, plays another left-hander in Czech Vesely, the world number 93.

Williams has ‘nothing to lose’

The women’s singles event has seen a record number of shocks this year with only seven of the 32 seeds making it to the second week.

The pre-tournament debate surrounded whether Williams, now the world number 181, should have been seeded for this year’s Championships as she continues her return following the birth of her daughter.

The American was seeded at 25 and is now favourite to win an eighth title but she insists she has “nothing to lose” going into the latter stages.

“I have absolutely nothing to prove. Everything is a bonus,” she said.

“Every time I step out there, I know what I’m capable of. I know every Grand Slam, I’ve won them, I’m capable of just going out there and enjoying it.”

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Who poses the greatest threat to dethrone Wimbledon's king and queen?

  • Posted: Jul 08, 2018
Wimbledon 2018 on the BBC
Venue: All England Club, Wimbledon Dates: 2-15 July
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, Connected TVs and the BBC Sport website and app; Live Radio 5 live and 5 live sports extra commentary; Text commentary online.

Six days gone, seven to go – many seeds have fallen but the queen and king of Wimbledon remain standing.

Between them Roger Federer and Serena Williams have made it into the second week 31 times in total – and going by their form so far they both look a good bet to go all the way.

Add to the mix Federer’s old foes, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, and you still have a strong men’s competition.

However, only Karolina Pliskova remains among the top 10 players in the women’s tournament.

I think Serena has as good a shot as anyone to win this event – which is crazy to think

Former US player Chanda Rubin

Elsewhere, there are no Britons in the second week for the first time since 2007, with the two main hopes Kyle Edmund and Johanna Konta dumped out at the third and second-round stage respectively.

BBC Sport takes a look at the state of play at Wimbledon 2018 so far.

Federer looking better than ever – nailed on to defend his title?

The superlatives keep getting recycled for the Swiss player, who at the age of 36 seems to be enjoying a prolonged Indian summer.

It has been three matches and three easy wins so far this tournament, and the number one seed remains a short favourite to win his ninth title.

With the early departure of number three seed Marin Cilic and three-time Grand Slam winner Stanislas Wawrinka, the tennis great’s side of the draw has opened up.

However, former Wimbledon champion John McEnroe told BBC Sport that those remaining could still prove difficult opposition.

“After 22nd seed Adrian Mannarino, there’s the big-serving Kevin Anderson, or there’s the South African’s opponent Gael Monfils, who can provide excitement and seems to be playing at his best,” said the 59-year-old three-time champion.

“And in the semi-finals, he [Federer] could face John Isner, another player you cannot discount because of the way he serves, or maybe Milos Raonic, who would be the guy to take the racquet out of the hand.”

The players who could trip up Federer en route to the final – his record against them
Adrian Mannarino W5 L0
Kevin Anderson or W4 L0
Gael Monfils W9 L4
John Isner or W5 L2
Milos Raonic W11 L3

Serena easing back into elite as top seeds fall?

There were question marks over how the seven-time Wimbledon champion would perform on her return “home”.

Williams only started competing again in singles in March after more than a year out during which she gave birth to her first child.

Then there was the chest muscle injury she suffered at the French Open prior to her fourth-round match against Maria Sharapova.

But she has navigated through three matches here without dropping a set, and according to former American tennis player Chanda Rubin, Williams is getting stronger by each round.

“Williams appears to be physically OK, and worryingly for her rivals we are starting to see that big serve,” the 42-year-old former world number six told BBC Sport.

“Going into the second week, I think Serena has as good a shot as anyone to win this event, which is crazy to think.

“The last-32 match against Kristina Mladenovic was tricky, but she was able to come through it like she’s been playing all year. It was remarkable.”

French player Mladenovic later posted on Instagram her thoughts about Williams: “You are definitely a different league than anyone else.”

Next up for the 36-year-old American is Russian world number 120 Evgeniya Rodina – they meet for the first time.

Wonder Williams
Tied with Steffi Graf on seven Wimbledon singles titles – only Martina Navratilova [nine] has won more
Victory next Sunday would see Williams tie Australia’s Margaret Court on 24 Grand Slam singles titles
After her win against Mladenovic, Williams’ overall record across Slams is now 322-43 – the most victories by either women or men in the Open era

Can Djokovic go all the way?

Could Wimbledon mark the renaissance of the 31-year-old three-time champion?

By the summer of 2016 he was world number one and held all four majors – by the summer of 2018 he had dropped to 21 in the world and without an ATP Tour title since June 2017.

But during Saturday’s victory against Britain’s sole remaining competitor in the singles, Edmund, he showed glimpses of his best form.

The Serb went a set down and saw an umpire call go against him when he had break point in the fourth set, but still came through.

“I think this is admirable from Djokovic,” added McEnroe. “He kept his cool because it could have gone south really quickly. He has worked hard to keep his game up. This is why people feel he is a threat and getting closer to his best.

“I’ve been a bit surprised his comeback has been [staccato]. There were physical and mental issues – but this has now been two years [since he won a Slam]. It’ll be nice to see him do his thing in the way we are accustomed to.”

Djokovic faces Russian world number 40 Karen Khachanov in the last 16.

No Brits left – how significant is that?

Not too significant, according to former British women’s number one Sam Smith.

The 46-year-old said there is more to be excited about than downhearted.

“I was impressed with Harriet Dart, who had Pliskova on the ropes – a player who could end up as champion,” she told BBC Sport.

“Then there was Katie Boulter, Katie Swan and Gabby Taylor. A lot didn’t think Konta played very well during her loss, but the display by Dominika Cibulkova – you won’t see too many better on the Centre Court this year.

“I was impressed with Jay Clarke in the men’s competition, and then there’s Edmund, of course. Some of the guys lost because they lacked experience in big-match play.

“The British wildcards weren’t far from the main draw anyway. My worry was that nobody came through qualifying. I think that some who got wildcards might have benefited from coming through qualifying.”

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Wimbledon 2018: What do you know about middle Sunday? Take the quiz

  • Posted: Jul 08, 2018

Wimbledon’s middle Sunday is here – but what does it mean, when was the first one and who did presenter Des Lynam famously interview in 1997?

There is no play on Sunday this year as the sunshine has been beating down and so no matches have been delayed, with the action resuming on Monday.

Is your Wimbledon knowledge as pristine as freshly washed tennis whites? Find out by taking the quiz.

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Looking For Something To Do On Wimbledon's Day Of Rest?

  • Posted: Jul 08, 2018

Looking For Something To Do On Wimbledon’s Day Of Rest?

Federer joins celebrity adventurer Bear Grylls for a journey in the Swiss Alps

There might not be play on the hallowed lawns of the All England Club on Sunday, but Roger Federer will still be in action, sort of. For fans in the United States, Federer will appear on the small screen Sunday night in a heart-racing episode of Running Wild With Bear Grylls on NBC. The eight-time Wimbledon champion journeyed into the Swiss Alps with the celebrity adventurer early in 2017, with the episode not being released until now. 

While tennis fans have seen Federer do incredible things on a tennis court with a racquet in hand, this is a truly must-watch experience. From discussing funny memories of raising two sets of twins and a special game of ping pong to repelling down a treacherous waterfall and sampling fish eyeballs, you’ll get to know the 98-time tour-level champion in a whole new way.

Setting the scene at the beginning of the show, Federer says, “I really hope that my tennis skills are actually going to help me a little bit, with balance maybe, making sure I get through the snow and ice here in the Swiss Alps. I’m just a very normal guy that likes to do normal things besides playing tennis. So I think that intrigues a lot of people, to see the other side of the person. I’m sure it’s going to be an epic experience.

“I believe it shows another side to the person people might know. With me, maybe they see this very focused, strong tennis player who never cracks under pressure and it’s all nonsense at the end of the day. We’re all the same,” Federer said. “We all have our fears and I’m very scared of many things, especially when it comes to doing adventurous stuff.”

Fans in the United States can tune in to the episode Sunday at 7pm ET/PT, 6pm Central Time on NBC.

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