Wimbledon 2023: Women’s history made as men’s game has a changing of the guard

By Sports Desk July 17, 2023

Wimbledon threw up a historic surprise in the women’s singles before Novak Djokovic’s long reign in the men’s tournament came to an end.

Czech world number 42 Marketa Vondrousova beat crowd favourite Ons Jabeur to become the first unseeded women’s champion in the competition’s history.

And a day later Carlos Alcaraz became the new King of Centre Court when he dethroned Novak Djokovic in a five-set thriller.

Here, the PA news agency looks back at the 2023 Championships.

Unseeded and undefeated

Vondrousova spent last year’s Wimbledon in a cast and her SW19 experience was just to watch best friend Miriam Kolodziejova in qualifying. She ended the 2023 edition as the first unseeded women’s champion in the event’s history.

The Olympic silver medallist beat four seeds to reach the semi-finals, where she ended the emotional run of Ukrainian wild card Elina Svitolina.

She was the underdog once more in the final against last year’s runner-up Ons Jabeur, but overcame early nerves to win in straight sets and lift the Venus Rosewater Dish.

The future is now

Djokovic had not lost at Wimbledon since 2017 and had not been defeated on Centre Court since Andy Murray beat him in the 2013 final. Enter Alcaraz.

The Spanish world number one overcame a wobbly first set to beat the seven-time champion in five epic sets.

The calendar Grand Slam continues to elude Djokovic, but he will still be heavily backed to win another major title in his career and match Margaret Court’s record of 24.

But Alcaraz’s progress on grass means the odds of equalling Roger Federer’s eight titles in SW19 will have lengthened.

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British interest in the adult singles competitions ended in the first week, with Liam Broady and Katie Boulter both losing in the third round.

Andy Murray’s hopes of a long run were ended by fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second round, while Cameron Norrie – who reached the semi-finals a year ago – also exited at the same stage to exciting American Chris Eubanks.

But it was not all doom and gloom for the host nation.

Wolverhampton’s Henry Searle won the boys’ singles final – the first British boy to do so since Stanley Matthews in 1961 – Liverpudlian Neal Skupski was victorious in the men’s doubles title with his Dutch partner Wesley Koolhof and Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid lifted the men’s wheelchair doubles title.

Russia and Belarus return

After being banned from the 2022 edition due to the war in Ukraine, players from Russia and Belarus returned this summer.

Generally, they were well received by the crowds but organisers would likely have breathed a sigh of relief when Aryna Sabalenka and Daniil Medvedev both fell at the semi-final stage, avoiding the possibility of the Princess of Wales presenting the trophy to a Belarusian or Russian player.

The only controversy came when Victoria Azarenka of Belarus was booed off court following her fourth-round defeat by Ukrainian Svitolina.

Azarenka, who put up her hand to acknowledge Svitolina knowing her opponent did not wish to shake hands with a player from the aggressor countries, branded fans “drunk” and unfair.

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