August 16, 2016
Wimbledon has many reasons to love the Spanish. For a start, you helped to create our own champion, Andy Murray, who went to Barcelona’s Sanchez-Casal Academy aged 15 and came away, 18 months later, ready to take on the world.
Then of course there is the greatest match Wimbledon or indeed the world has ever seen – won by one of the best-loved Spaniards in human history, Rafael Nadal.
Yes, it will be hard for tennis ever to beat the 2008 Wimbledon final, which stretched over seven hours and saw Nadal beat the great Roger Federer 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-7 (8-10), 9-7 in near darkness.
Even taking away the two rain delays, that delicious epic still lasted for a record-breaking four hours and forty-eight minutes – and no one will ever forget it.
Thanks again, Spain!
No wonder we so readily forgive one of your great champions for trying to tell us that “grass is just for cows.”
Manolo Santana’s temporary error of judgement was soon exposed by the great man himself. Santana beat Dennis Ralston 6-4, 11-9, 6-4 to win Wimbledon in 1966, the year he was also world number one. Suddenly grass wasn’t just for cows after all!
The plucky Manuel Orantes came close to emulating Santana in 1972 when he reached the semi-final, but it was Conchita Martinez who finally covered Spain in glory once more in 1994, when she beat the great Martina Navratilova 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to become the first Spanish woman ever to win Wimbledon.
Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario came close the next two years, only losing out to the legendary Steffi Graf in successive finals.
Since then David Ferrer has charmed Wimbledon with his sportsmanship and passion, reaching the quarter-final in 2012 and 2013..Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez have also regularly captivated Wimbledon fans for their elegant tennis and their enviable ability to be…well…just cool.
But the inimitable Nadal’s victories of 2008 and 2010 have made him one of the most adored sportsmen London has ever hosted at any venue.
Rafa is never far from the Wimbledon headlines, and even in 2017 he was arguably part of the tournament’s best match, going down 13-15 in the fifth set to Gilles Muller.
And of course Spain gave us a great Wimbledon champion in 2017, even though Nadal didn’t quite achieve his own dream. Garbine Muguruza played some of the most scintillating tennis a Wimbledon final has ever seen to overpower the formidable Venus Williams and take the crown she had previously been denied in a final by Serena.
Who will grab our attention next time? Will a resurgent Rafa Nadal storm back once more to wow the crowds? Will Muguruza now go from strength to strength to create a new era of domination in the women’s game?
One thing’s for sure: grass isn’t just for cows. The Spanish have demonstrated that beyond all doubt and we’ve loved every moment.
You can be confident that, whatever happens at Wimbledon this year, the Spanish will have some part to play in the most dramatic action.
Viva Espana! Come and enjoy Wimbledon! The great moments of the tournament are as much yours as ours!
And for all the joy you have given us so far, we say a heartfelt “Gracias!”