Roger Federer's potential last real shot at a major title dominated the headlines entering Wimbledon this year. However, the number of first-round upsets in the women's draw quickly stole away the media attention. In just the first two days alone, four of the top ten seeds fell to unranked opponents. Among all 32 seeded players, eight fell in the first round alone. The women's draw has always tended to be more prone to upsets than the men's side, but this was still out of the ordinary.
Serena's devastating injury
Serena Williams is not just one of the most dominant women's tennis players; she is one of the most dominant athletes of her generation, and maybe all time. While she hasn't won a Grand Slam since 2017, she is still one of the best players on tour. She is only one win shy of tying Margaret Court's record for career Grand Slams, set in 1975. However, on Tuesday at Wimbledon, she had to retire after slipping and injuring her hamstring.
The score was still tied early in the first set when she got hurt. However, having already borne a child and now at age 39, people have to start wondering if Williams will be able to make it back to the pinnacle of the sport. However, she has shown few signs of letting up, and so it is premature to start counting out one of the greatest of all time.
Andreescu's disappointing performance
Bianca Andreescu is one of the most promising young players on the women's tour. The 21-year-old Canadian is a rising star and had claimed the fifth seed at Wimbledon this year. However, she did not just lose in the first round; she was dominated. It was never even close, as France's Alize Cornet rolled to a 6-2, 6-1 victory. Andreescu is still young and is bound to lose some matches. However, a first-round exit had to sting. Nonetheless, she showed grace and respect in her post-match press conference, giving credit to Cornet.
I tried to stay positive the whole match. I tried to figure it out how I can play her better. But honestly, she played really well.”-Bianca Andreescu on her match against Alize Cornet
Other notable first-round exits
Andreescu and Williams were the biggest names to fall early, but other highly ranked players joined them. Ninth-seeded Belinda Bencic fell to 20-year-old Kaja Juvan, and tenth-seeded Petra Kvitova fell to the up-and-down American Sloane Stephens. Bencic's defeat was a shocker, as Juvan has never made it past the second round of a Grand Slam before. Stephens won the 2017 US Open in Kvitova's defense, so she is still a fearsome player, although she is unranked.
A wide-open field
This presents an opportunity for the rest of the field. With many of the biggest names already eliminated, perhaps we will see a new or at least unexpected champion this year. The women's draw has always had a layer of unpredictability that the men's game lacked. Since Serena Williams' dominant 2015 Grand Slam run, the women's game has seen 14 different Grand Slam champs. In that same time span, the men's game has seen just five. This year could provide a chance for someone new to join the ranks of Grand Slam champions, although the top two seeds, Ash Barty and Aryna Sabalenka remain. However, with fourth-seeded Sofia Kenin falling in the second round, the upsets show no signs of slowing down. The first round of Wimbledon 2021 has reminded us of the basic premise of sports: anything can happen.