(originally published on June 17th, 2011)
Like most true sports lovers, tennis fans are passionate and vociferous about the game and its players. And when the major championship tournaments come around, they get very serious. In fact, the qualifying rounds for Wimbledon are happening this week. Are your tennis loving-friends active on Facebook lately? Probably not.
The Wimbledon Championships get underway on June 20 and run through July 3. Then, tennis fans will have to wait about six more weeks until the U.S. Open comes around to round out the 2011 Grand Slam.
Going into Wimbledon after the first two Grand Slam events – the Australian Open and the French Open – it’s anybody’s game. Novak Djokovic and Kim Clijsters were the singles’ victors in Australia, with Rafael Nadal and Li Na winning in France. Both men are front-runners for Wimbledon, along with Roger Federer, Andy Murray, and Robin Soderling.
On the women’s side of the net, the good money is on Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. Although, Serena and sister Venus Williams are on opposite sides of the draw, so a Williams v. Williams final is always possible, as witnessed four times previously.
Once those trophies are awarded, all eyes will turn to the Open. This year, both the men’s and women’s championship play-offs will be on August 18-21 with the mixed doubles championship on August 24-27. From there, players will go on to compete at the U.S. Open beginning on August 29.
Nadal and Clijsters took the titles in 2010 in the 22,000-capacity Arthur Ashe Stadium. Nadal had to get past Djokovic in the finals to win his first Open, and his third Slam title of 2010. The victory put him alonside Andre Agassi as the only two players to have a Golden Slam consisting of all four Grand Slam titles plus an Olympic Gold Medal, all won in singles play.
Not to be too outdone, Clijsters trumping Vera Zvonareva for the Open title made her the first female player to win back-to-back Opens since 2001 when Venus Williams pulled a repeat.
In men’s doubles play, the noteworthy Bryan brothers (Bob and Mike) have been pretty tough to beat over the past few years. They have won five of the past six Australian Opens, and two of the past three U.S. Opens.
Ahead of Wimbledon, those already looking at the U.S. Open give Djokovic a very slight edge over Nadal with Federer and Murray trailing behind them. Clijsters, Serena Williams, Sharapova, and Caroline Wozniacki top the women’s leader board odds.
In the end, to the victor go the spoils. And, in the case of the U.S. Open, those spoils add up to more than $1.5 million each for the singles’ victors. Second-place finishers earn about half that with semi-finalists coming in around $400,000. Just making it into the first round warrants a pay-day of about $20,000. The total player compensation tops $20 million. That’s a pretty good sum for whacking a ball around.