Wimbledon 2024: Let The Journey Commence

Wimbledon (photo: Florian Goosmann)

WIMBLEDON/WASHINGTON, June 29, 2024 (by Michael Dickens)

With the draw of the 137th edition of the Wimbledon Championships completed on Friday, it provides both players and fans with a roadmap in which to follow during the upcoming British fortnight. The Championships begin fresh on Monday – and like past years, there’s plenty of intrigue and excitement in store. The women’s singles final is Saturday, July 13; the men’s singles final is Sunday, July 14.

Wimbledon is the most prestigious event in professional tennis. It is rich in history and tradition, dating back to 1877 for the men and 1884 for the women. This is the 56th Wimbledon of the Open Era, which began in 1968, and saw the introduction of prize money. Due to the pandemic, Wimbledon was dark in 2020. In 2022, the Championships became a 14-day tournament with play added on Middle Sunday, which long had been a day of rest. The strawberries and cream tradition is ageless.

Monday’s Wimbledon Championships order of play

This year’s Wimbledon has World No. 1 Jannik Sinner of Italy as the men’s top seed as he goes for his second major crown after winning this year’s Australian Open. Last year’s winner, current World No. 3 Carlos Alcaraz of Spain, is in Sinner’s half of the draw and they could meet in the semifinals. Meanwhile, No. 2 Novak Djokovic of Serbia, who has won Wimbledon seven times – most recently in 2022 – is seeded second but enters the competition recovering from an injury; Alcaraz is No. 3 and Alexander Zverev of Germany is No. 4. Djokovic and Zverev could meet in the semifinal round.

The women’s top seed is Poland’s Iga Swiatek, who a year ago reached the quarterfinals. A winner of this year’s French Open, the No. 1-ranked Swiatek is chasing after her second straight major title in a month and sixth overall. She has yet to win Wimbledon but remains the player to beat. Last year’s titlist, Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic is seeded sixth. Reigning U.S. Open champion Coco Gauff of the United States is seeded No. 2, current Australian Open titlist Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus is No. 3 and 2022 Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan is No. 4.

There will also be enduring super stars like two-time Wimbledon champion and British icon Andy Murray, whose passion to compete on grass — despite trying to recovery quickly from spinal cyst surgery earlier this month — is unquestioned. On what could be his final British fortnight before he retires, the 37-year-old’s first-round opponent is Tomas Machac of the Czech Republic. He’s also been given a wild card to compete in doubles with his brother Jamie Murray.

While a lot can happen over the next two weeks to bust both the men’s and women’s brackets, for now, Sinner’s path to his first Wimbledon title begins with a first-round match against Yannick Hanfmann of Germany Monday on No. 1 Court, and could include matchups with: Matteo Berrettini of Italy, No. 27 seed Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands, No. 14 seed Ben Shelton of the United States, No. 5 seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia (quarterfinal), No. 3 seed Alcaraz (semifinal), and No. 2 seed Djokovic (final).

Meanwhile, Swiatek’s path to a first Wimbledon title begins with a first-round match against Sofia Kenin of the United States on Tuesday, and could include matchups with: Petra Martic of Croatia, No. 27 seed Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic, No. 13 seed Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, No. 6 seed Vondrousova (quarterfinal), No. 4 seed Rybakina (semifinal), No. 2 seed Gauff (final).

A year ago at the Championships

Last year, Carlos Alcaraz (at age 20) became the youngest Wimbledon men’s champion since Boris Becker in 1986 and the third Spaniard champion in tournament history after defeating seven-time titlist and defending champion Novak Djokovic in five sets contested over four hours and 43 minutes.

Alcaraz overcame a near-perfect start by Djokovic and outlasted the Serbian, 1-6, 7-6 (6), 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, in a final that included a nearly-27-minute, 13-deuce fifth game in the third set won by Alcaraz. It was the third-longest men’s final in Wimbledon history.

In the 2023 women’s final, unheralded Marketa Vondrousova defeated No. 6 seed Ons Jabeur to become the first unseeded Wimbledon women’s champion of the Open Era. She won the title 6-4, 6-4 in just 80 minutes.

The tradition of Czech-born women’s champions at the Wimbledon Championships got richer. What began in 1978 with the excellence of nine-time champion Martina Navratilova, continued with the emotional 1998 victory of Jana Novotna and evolved into this century with two-time winner Petra Kvitova in 2011 and 2014, now includes the unlikely Vondrousova as the latest Wimbledon Ladies’ champion.

Looking ahead to this year’s Wimbledon

While Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz are generating plenty of buzz in the men’s draw, it’s worth noting that Novak Djokovic – a seven-time Wimbledon champion – holds an 92-11 match record lifetime at SW19.

Additionally, as Djokovic begins his 19th Wimbledon campaign, should he win an eighth title in two weeks, it would draw the 37-year-old future Hall of Famer even with Roger Federer for the most Wimbledon gentlemen’s singles titles. It would also be his 25th career major title, which would further distance himself from Rafael Nadal (22) and Federer (20). Nadal opted not to compete at this year’s Wimbledon Championships in order to stay home and train on clay for the upcoming Summer Olympics in Paris.

On the women’s side, Marketa Vondrousova will try to prove that winning last year’s ladies’ singles crown was no fluke. However, most everyone’s attention will be on Iga Swiatek, who has won 19 straight matches and recently won her fourth Roland-Garros title on clay.