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Marketa Vondrousova Is 1st Defending Women's Wimbledon Champ Out in the First Round Since 1994
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By Associated Press
Published 2 weeks ago on
July 2, 2024

Jessica Bouzas Maneiro of Spain celebrates after defeating Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic during their first round match at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, Tuesday, July 2, 2024. (AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

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LONDON — Marketa Vondrousova became the first defending women’s champion at Wimbledon to lose in the first round the next year since 1994, eliminated 6-4, 6-2 by Jessica Bouzas Maneiro at Centre Court on Tuesday.

Vondrousova was a surprise title winner at the All England Club 12 months ago, the first unseeded woman to claim the trophy at the grass-court Grand Slam tournament.

Historic Loss for Vondrousova

Now she enters the books in another — and less-wanted — historic way. The only other time in the sport’s Open era, which dates to 1968, that a woman went from a championship at Wimbledon to an immediate exit a year later was when Steffi Graf was defeated by Lori McNeil 30 years ago.

“I was happy to be back on the Centre Court,” Vondrousova said. “It just didn’t go as planned today.”

Vondrousova was seeded No. 6 this time, but the left-hander, who was the runner-up at the 2019 French Open and a silver medalist at the Tokyo Olympics three years ago, was never quite able to demonstrate her full game Tuesday. She appeared to still be suffering after-effects from a fall during a tuneup tournament on grass in Berlin last month that hurt her hip.

“I was a bit slower, maybe. I was a bit scared,” Vondrousova said. “But credit to her. She was playing a good match, too. I didn’t feel at my best, (but) she didn’t gave me many points for free.”

Victory for Bouzas Maneiro

How big a deal was this for Bouzas Maneiro?

She is competing in a Grand Slam tournament for only the third time and came into the day with an 0-2 record at those events. Bouzas Maneiro also had never won a match at a tour-level grass tournament and never beaten an opponent ranked in the top 10.

“This is one of the most important moments in my life, in my career, here in this sport. This is amazing,” said Bouzas Maneiro, a 21-year-old from Spain who is ranked 83rd this week, equaling her career high.

“I was like, ‘I have no pressure. Just enjoy the moment, enjoy the tournament.’ Just trying to be free playing, and I did it, so I’m happy for that,” she said.

Other Major Title Winners Drop Out

Vondrousova added to the series of past major title winners dropping out of the singles brackets within the first 30 hours of action at Wimbledon this year — although others did so without playing a point.

Earlier Tuesday, Andy Murray pulled out of singles because he decided he wasn’t able to compete a little more than a week after having surgery to remove a cyst from his spine. His final appearance at Wimbledon, which he won in 2013 and 2016, will come in doubles alongside his older brother, Jamie.

Two seeded women who both have been ranked No. 1 and own two Australian Open championships apiece, No. 3 Aryna Sabalenka and No. 16 Victoria Azarenka, withdrew on Monday before their first-round matches because of shoulder injuries. Sabalenka was the pre-tournament favorite to take the women’s title, according to BetMGM Sportsbook.

Intermittent rain delayed matches on the outside courts more than once Tuesday, and the retractable roofs at Centre Court and No. 1 Court were shut to allow play in those two stadiums. Early winners included 2022 champion Elena Rybakina and No. 5 seed Jessica Pegula among the women, and No. 7 Hubert Hurkacz among the men.

Signs of Trouble for Vondrousova

The initial signs of trouble for Vondrousova on Tuesday came right away: She double-faulted three times in the very first game and got broken to trail 1-0.

“My serve wasn’t so good today,” Vondrousova said. “Overall, I think, I wasn’t at my best.”

She would wind up with seven double-faults, part of her total of 28 unforced errors, twice as many as Bouzas Maneiro in a match that lasted only a little more than an hour.

“I’m surprised with myself, honestly. At the beginning, I was a little bit nervous, but then … the atmosphere was so nice,” Bouzas Maneiro said. “I was comfortable here playing, and I was like at home. I don’t know why.”

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