In the midst of the doom and gloom of England –Prime Minister David Cameron resigning, the English football manager resigning after a humiliating loss to Iceland, and financial markets nosediving as the UK breaks away from the EU – Marcus Willis was providing the feelgood factor.
Ranked 772, he’s the lowest ranked qualifier since 1988 to win a match at a tennis major and now faces the grandest opponent on the grandest stage: Roger Federer on Centre Court at Wimbledon.
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) June 29, 2016
Describing himself as “a bit of a loser”, he had never played an ATP level match prior to Wimbledon. He developed the nickname ‘Cartman’ based on the character from South Park because of his comedic ways and for being overweight.
His girlfriend, Jennifer, almost missed watching his first-round win because she was at work. However, an equipment malfunction at the dentist she works at turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
Willis will be the second-lowest ranked player Federer has met at a grand slam after Devon Britton, ranked 1,370, whom Federer beat in the 2009 US Open first round.
“I think it’s one of the best stories in a long time in our sport. This is the kind of story we need in our sport.” remarked Federer, highlighting how tennis has been in the doldrums of late after match-fixing and doping allegations had the sport in the headlines for the wrong reasons.
Willis on himself: “I was overweight. I just looked myself in the mirror and said ‘you’re better than this’. Played a few years in Romania, losing. I lost a lot of confidence. Went out too much. Lifestyle wasn’t good. I didn’t have the drive.”
On the court, Serena Williams started the defence of her title with a 6-2 6-4 win over Switzerland’s Amra Sadikovic.
Rain cut short Tuesday’s play at 6pm but there was still enough time for Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, Nick Kyrgios and Juan Martin Del Potro to all advance to the second round. The Scot, seeded second and champion in 2013, prevailed over Liam Broady 6-2 6-3 6-4.
Argentinian Del Potro got his first win in a grand slam since the 2014 Australian Open after a wretched run with wrist injuries. His win sets up a cracking second round showdown against Wawrinka.
Under the roof, in one of the best matchups of the first round, 13th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Caroline Wozniacki 7-5 6-4.