Did the rash of upsets, which saw top-ranking players drop like flies, diminish Wimbledon 2013? Those who believe so have probably failed to appreciate the message in the madness. Obscured in the wild uncertainties of this year’s tournament were subtle signs of a shift in tennis’s old order and the emergence of a breed of bold new challengers. This is true of both draws, but particularly so in the women’s. The fall of the likes of Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova was accompanied by the emergence of a raft of fresh talent, including the reflexive Sabine Lisicki, the thoughtful Angeiszka Radwanska, and the aggressive young British and American hopes, Laura Robson and Sloane Stephens. It may have been the 28-year-old Marion Bartoli who finally won the day, but the future of women’s tennis is now so wide open that upsets and surprises may well extend beyond this year’s Wimbledon. As for the men, there is no discounting the emergence of aspirants such as the alarmingly powerful Pole Jerzy Janowicz, who showed he has all the attributes for future greatness, and the Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro, whose brutal epic against top-seeded Novak Djokovic was one of the best matches in recent memory.
But this tournament also signals some more subtle shifts at the top of the men’s order with an ageing Roger Federer and an increasingly injury-prone Rafael Nadal. The emergence of a new Wimbledon champion in Andy Murray, who held his game to defeat Novak Djokovic in straight sets, could mark the beginning of an era in which the Murray-Djokovic faceoff replaces the Federer-Nadal contest as the principal one in men’s tennis. Murray’s victory comes on the heels of performances that suggest that he is ready to finally live up to his talent, which seem almost otherwordly on some points. The narrative of Murray’s progress as a tennis player seems to have changed with his U.S. Open victory last year and his record since then speaks for it. After signing on Ivan Lendl as coach, there has been a marked change in the attitude of the British player on court. The fog of sullenness, which resulted in outbreaks of self-defeating anger, seems to have lifted to reveal a quieter and more determined intensity. He seems less discouraged when down, less upset when luck turns against him and far more trusting of himself to overcome adversity. It is possible that Djokovic, who played immaculate tennis for most of the fortnight, may have been handicapped by the after-effects of a physically and emotionally draining semi-final against Del Potro. But it was Murray’s resolve and confidence that won himself and Britain the Wimbledon crown after a gap of 77 years.