Seed exodus: And on Day 4, the seeds began to fall en masse. Eight of the Top 10 women remain in the draw but French Open champion Garbiñe Muguruza bowed out to Jana Cepelova in straight sets and No.7 seed Belinda Bencic was forced to retire with a left wrist injury to Julia Boserup. Bencic said she began to feel pain in her wrist a few days ago.
The seeds to fall on Thursday included Karolina Pliskova, Johanna Konta, Sam Stosur, Elina Svitolina, Sara Errani, Jelena Jankovic, Caroline Garcia, Kristina Mladenovic, and Andrea Petkovic.
Venus Williams’ rallying cry for equality: When Thursday’s order of play came out on Wednesday night, social media was a’Twitter with the sight of five-time Wimbledon champion and No.8 seed Venus Williams on Court 18. Don’t let the number fool you. Court 18 is arguably the No.5 court at the All England Club. But was it disrespectful to put such a great champion there instead of one of the bigger show courts?
The question was put to Venus after her three-set win over Greek qualifier Maria Sakkari, and she made it clear that she’s not about special treatment. She’s about equality.
“I wasn’t unhappy to play on Court 18,” Venus said. “I just want equality for men’s and women’s matches. That’s what I’m unhappy about. I have no problem where I play. I’ll play on the practice courts if I need to. I have no problem with that.”
Venus said this wasn’t about whether she should be bumping other women off the bigger courts. The question is whether the men were ever put in a similar situation.
Q. Could you imagine a five time male champion being on an outside court?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I haven’t seen that in the scheduling yet (smiling).
“It’s not the ideal schedule for the women,” Venus continued, referring to the fact that men still hold a majority of the slots on Centre Court and No.1 Court. “We’d like to see equal amount of matches. We don’t want more, just the same amount, that’s all.
“I’m sure that the WTA supervisors have done their best to try to make the schedule equal. But also the All England Club has to have a culture where they want to have equality, as well. They need to want to pursue that. I would love to see where we don’t have to talk about this any more in the press conference.”
Venus plays her third round match against No.29 seed Daria Kasatkina on No.1 Court on Friday.
Jana Cepelova cements her big match reputation: Two years ago it was beating Serena Williams in straight sets at the Volvo Car Open en route to the biggest final of her career. Last year, here at Wimbledon, she ousted Simona Halep in the first round. And on Thursday, Jana Cepelova stunned No.2 Garbiñe Muguruza 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the third round.
“I like to play against biggest stars, of course, against the champions,” Cepelova said. “And I try to keep winning against these champions player.”
The 23-year-old from Slovakia had four good wins under her belt before playing Muguruza, having come through qualifying and winning her first round match. A former Top 50 player, she is current ranked at No.124. Last year she came down with pneumonia right before the Australian Open and had to spend six days in the hospital. It took her more months to fully recover but she hopes Thursday’s win will be a springboard for a return to the Top 100.
“It’s tough because if I’m in the rankings around 120, you have small points and it’s not easy to be back,” she said. Her next challenge will be Lucie Safarova, who beat Samantha Crawford in straight sets.
Garbiñe Muguruza needs some rest: One of the biggest challenges to completing the so-called Channel Slam is the emotional balance of celebrating your win in Paris while being ready to fight in London. Muguruza did not have much of a break after Paris and that may have been her undoing on Thursday.
“Well, I think my energy was missing a little bit today,” Muguruza said. “From yesterday I felt already a little bit tired, I think is the best word. And today during the match, and after the match, I’m like, It’s a tough day today. I feel empty a little bit, and I start to be sick.
“But I think it was a little bit of combination. I think she played great, with no fear. She was trying a lot of stuff that was working. My energy was not really there. I was trying, but didn’t work at all.
“I think I will have to rest more, not keep practicing the same hard to prepare another Grand Slam because it’s very fast. I think I will have to take more careful those days where you have to rest. Even though you want to play, I don’t want to miss a day, but sometimes it’s better to rest because it’s going to make you play better. You don’t think, like, practicing 10 hours a day is going to make you play better after you don’t have energy.”
Eugenie Bouchard puts on a performance: The 2014 finalist beat No.16 seed Johanna Konta 6-3, 1-6, 6-1 to move into the third round. “I think it’s my best performance of 2016,” Bouchard said afterwards. Next up is a tough match against Dominika Cibulkova. The Canadian has never lost to Cibulkova, but both their matches went the distance, including last summer’s third round at the US Open.
Agnieszka Radwanska’s great escape: The No.3 seed avoided the rash of seeds bowing out, saving three match points to beat Ana Konjuh 6-2, 4-6, 9-7. Konjuh took an ugly spill at 7-7 in the third set after she chased down a short ball and missed, only to step on the ball and twist her right ankle. It was incredibly bad luck for Konjuh, who served for the match twice and was playing the best match of her young career.
Julia Boserup’s Grand Slam debut: The 24-year-old American is into the third round after Bencic retired. The California native, ranked No.225, is playing in her first major and she’ll play Elena Vesnina for a spot in the second week. And Boserup is keeping the Danish press busy. Her parents are Danish and she still has family in Copenhagen, and much to the delight of reporters she’s fluent in Danish. Click here for an Insider profile on Boserup.
Karolina Pliskova’s Grand Slam struggles continue: Seemingly in form after making the final of the Aegon International, the World No.17 has still yet to make the fourth round of a major.
That’s just stats: The scoreline in the Bouchard-Konta match was deceptive, especially in the first two sets. The games repeatedly went to 30 or deuce, and it was so intense that Bouchard completely lost track of things.
Q. Did it feel strange to have that many break points in the second set yet lose it 6-1?
EUGENIE BOUCHARD: I had a lot of break points in the second set?
EUGENIE BOUCHARD: Really? Yeah. (Laughter.) Well, I didn’t know that. Thank you. Now that you tell me, yeah, that’s not an ideal statistic.
All photos courtesy of Getty Images.