Marion Bartoli’s second Wimbledon final was considerably more successful than the first, as she wiped the highly fancied – in every sense of the word! – Sabine Lisicki off the court in ninety minutes, finally claiming the Wimbledon women’s singles trophy that she’d wanted for over a decade of her career. It was ironic that the scoreline, 6-1, 6-4, was a mirror image of her previous final against Venus Williams, as the match itself was the polar opposite of that occasion, with Bartoli overpowering the maiden Grand Slam finalist Lisicki, much as she was summarily dispatched by Williams six years ago.
This year’s women’s singles tournament was notable for many British observers, though, for the emergence of Laura Robson as a credible Grand Slam contender. Robson had already signalled indication of this in New York last year, when she beat former Grand Slam winners Kim Clijsters and Li Na, and former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in Australia.
But you’ve never truly arrived on the British sporting stage as a tennis player until you do it at Wimbledon, so Robson’s immensely impressive first-round victory over the number 10 seed Maria Kirilenko, and gutsy run to the fourth-round, gave the British public the first opportunity to acclaim the teenager’s already impressive ability, and seemingly limitless potential. It already seems clear that after Andy Murray’s historic Wimbledon triumph, Britain will have two serious contenders for Wimbledon singles titles in the coming years.
The shock of the tournament was the exit of the tournament favourite Serena Williams at the quarter-final stage. Williams had been odds on to carry off the Ladies’ Singles trophy long before she reached the last eight with routine ease, and it has been automatically assumed by virtually every observer that she would progress as serenely as her name to a seventeenth Grand Slam title.
Few people counted on the almost superhuman performances that Sabine Lisicki produced to beat her. Lisicki was so overwhelmed by her achievement that she was moved to tears, for far from the last time in the tournament. The German was really the player of the tournament, and quite possibly deserved to have her name etched on the trophy, after back-to-back titanic efforts to triumph over Williams and the fourth seed Agnieszka Radwańska. Lisicki had also beaten Francesca Schiavone and Sam Stosur in the earlier rounds, meaning that the German had beaten four former Grand Slam champions on the way to the final.
Unfortunately, her thank was seemingly empty by the time she faced Bartoli, and Lisicki struggled to cope with the enormity of the occasion, being visibly distressed throughout the second set, and bursting into tears on more than one occasion. It was fitting that Lisicki managed a mini recovery to at least make the scoreline respectable, having trailed 6-1, 5-1 at one stage, but ultimately Bartoli was a deserved recipient of the Venus Rosewater Dish trophy.
The Venus Rosewater Dish is a unique Wimbledon trophy, not least because it has a distinct name! The men’s singles title bears no such moniker, but the ladies singles trophy has a much more idiosyncratic appearance and history. The trophy was first presented to the winner of the Ladies' Singles at the Wimbledon Championships in the 19th century, with Blanche Bingley Hillyard being the first woman to receive the trophy way back in 1886.
Unlike most sporting trophies, the Venus Rosewater Dish does not depict sporting excellence, instead depicting scenes from Greek mythology. The central portion of the trophy, depicts the figure of Sophrosyne, considered to be the personification of temperance and moderation within Greek mythology. The figure is seated on a chest with a lamp in her right hand and a jug in her left, surrounded by various implements such as a sickle, fork and caduceus. Elsewhere within the trophy, the four reserve sections held on the boss of the dish each contain a classical God, while the reserves around the rim depict Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom presiding over the seven liberal arts: astronomy, geometry, arithmetic, music, rhetoric, dialectic and grammar. This is a truly distinctive and unique trophy, which only helps contribute to the reputation and image of the Wimbledon championships.
The trophy measures 18 3/4 inches in diameter, and is a sterling silver salver, which was originally constructed in 1864 by Elkington and Co. Ltd of Birmingham. In common with the men’s’ singles trophy, Ms. Bartoli will not be lucky enough to take the trophy home with her; the Venus Rosewater Dish is permanently situated within the museum at the All-England tennis club. All champions received a three-quarter replica of the trophy beating the names of all the previous Ladies’ Singles champions.
With the emergence of Robson, British tennis fans will have serious hopes that for the first time in decades a British woman’s name can be added to the trophy. After the feat of Andy Murray, anything seems possible.