After a year’s hiatus, the world’s most prestigious tennis championships returned to SW19 in 2021.
The 2021 Championships turned out to be one of the most dramatic and thrilling tournaments in Wimbledon’s history.
Fans were welcomed back onto the grounds, players received rapturous applause as they returned to the show courts, and a great deal of strawberries and cream was eaten.
Here are our top 10 notable moments from the 2021 Championships.
10. Tributes to healthcare heroes
Boris Becker described it as one of the “most emotional starts” to The Championships he had ever seen.
Reigning champion Novak Djokovic walked onto Centre Court to take on 19-year-old Jack Draper in the opening match, but before play began moving ovations rang out around Centre Court for NHS staff. Captain Sir Tom Moore and Dame Sarah Gilbert also received a special ovation from the crowd.
It was a heart-warming tribute to those who have played key roles in helping the country through the pandemic.
9. The champion goes a set down
Play began on Centre Court with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic taking on British rising star Jack Draper.
The reigning champion would go on to win his sixth Grand Slam tournament on the grass surface, but there was immediate shock on Centre Court as Draper came out strong, beating Djokovic 6-4 in the opening set.
It certainly surprised the crowd who were in full voice for the British star. Draper battled hard against the World No. 1 but ultimately fell short, and Djokovic claimed the next three sets to win 3-1.
8. Strength and determination: Carla Suarez Navarro
In September 2020, Spanish tennis player Carla Suarez Navarro was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma, which put her playing career on hold for nearly a year.
But in April 2021, the former World No. 6 announced she was cancer-free and would be making her comeback at The Championships at Wimbledon later that year.
In a blockbuster opening-round affair between the 32-year-old and World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, Navarro forced Barty to three sets after winning a brilliant second-set tiebreaker.
And the Australian paid tribute to her inspirational opponent after the match, calling Suarez Navarro: “A hell of a competitor, a hell of a fighter. It was a privilege to be able to share that moment, share that court with her.”
7. Roger Federer returns to hallowed ground
There were doubts whether Roger Federer would recover in time to enter the 2021 Championships. The 40-year-old has struggled to overcome injuries in the past year.
But the eight-time Wimbledon champion returned in emphatic style to reach the Quarter-Finals of his favourite Grand Slam tournament, but was beaten in three sets by Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz.
6. Serena Williams’ injury
Seven-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams, had to cut her 2021 appearance at The Championships short. After playing just six games against Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the opening round, Serena had to retire with an injury.
While we’re sure this won’t be the last time we see the 40-year-old grace Centre Court, it was a shame to see one of the greats of the game withdraw in the opening round.
5. Upsets in the Men’s tournament
Middle (Manic) Monday saw all of Alexander Zverev, Roberto Bautista Agut, and Andrey Rublev exit the Tournament, with Daniil Medvedev following them the day after.
Felix Auger-Alaissimme dispatched Zverev in five sets in what was one of the matches of the Championships, with the Canadian holding out against a late fightback from the German to advance to the next round.
Over on Court No. 3, fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov continued to impress, and dispatched Bautista Agut in just three sets.
The Russian pair Andrey Rublev and Daniil Medvedev soon fell too, with Rublev succumbing to an excellent performance from Marton Fucsovics, while Hubert Hurkacz dispatched Medvedev via a hard-fought five-set thriller.
4. British players flourish on the grass
There was plenty to celebrate for British fans, with multiple players, including Emma Radacanu, Andy Murray, and Cameron Norrie, performing admirably to advance through the Singles Championships.
18-year-old Emma Radacanu dazzled to reach the Fourth Round of the Championships, but unfortunately had to retire with illness. Meanwhile, Andy Murray returned to Wimbledon for the first time in three years to reach the third round along with Cameron Norrie.
In the Doubles tournaments, three British players featured in the Mixed Doubles Finals, with Joe Salisbury and Harriet Dart being beaten by Brit Neal Skupski and his American partner Desirae Krawczyk.
3. Novak Djokovic defends his title for the third time
Novak Djokovic broke multiple records this year at Wimbledon, becoming only the fourth-ever player to win three consecutive Wimbledon Championships. Novak tied level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to win his 20th Grand Slam tournament.
In his 30th Grand Slam final, Djokovic again went a set down first but showed excellent mental strength to fight back to defeat Italian Matteo Berrettini, 6-7 6-4 6-4 6-3.
2. Ashleigh Barty reigns supreme and dedicates win to Australian icon
It’s been nearly 50 years since a female Australian tennis player has won the Wimbledon Ladies’ Singles Championships. The last was Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980.
This year, World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty ended the wait, storming her way to the Wimbledon Finals to defeat Karolina Plíšková 2-1.
The win was made even more incredible considering Barty’s inspirational rise to the top of the world rankings after the World No. 1 took an indefinite break from tennis in 2014.
Since returning, Barty has risen to the top of the game to achieve her dream to win at The Championships and did so while paying tribute to her idol Evonne Goolagong Cawley.
Wearing a FILA dress inspired by Goolagong Cawley’s 1971 Wimbledon appearance, Barty said after the match: “I hope I made Evonne proud.”
1. Murray defeats the odds
Yes, we know we have mentioned him already!
In January 2019, Andy Murray underwent major hip surgery. Defying those who suggested he would never play a Grand Slam tournament again, Andy Murray returned to Wimbledon in impressive form. Against all the odds and after seven gruelling hours of play over several days, Andy made it through to the Third Round ultimately losing to Denis Shapovalov.
Let’s look forward to many more fantastic moments next tournament, at The Championships, Wimbledon 2022.