Sports: Big Weekend For Tennis

Jul 7, 2012
Originally published on July 7, 2012 6:57 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: And it's a huge weekend on tennis' hallowed ground. Serena Williams has won her fifth Wimbledon title. She defeated Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, 6-1, 5-7 and 6-2 in the final. And on the men's side, Andy Murray is the great Scot hope, as he tries to win his first Wimbledon title. We spoke with Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN the magazine from Wimbledon shortly after Serena Williams won.

HOWARD BRYANT: Leave it to me to rush off of the court and get down here. They are right in the middle of the championship trophy presentation. It was a pretty remarkable, remarkable day. It looked very early as though Serena Williams was going to finish this match in about a half an hour. She pretty much destroyed Agnieszka Radwanska in the first set 6-1. And then, all of a sudden, Rawanska played incredible defense, showed an amazing amount of heart, and proved why she is number three in the world.

And it was a terrific match. It went three sets and Serena finally closed it out with a 6-2 win in the third set.

SIMON: This is kind of a signal that Serena Williams is back after a couple of years of health problems. Kind of a signal, yes, winning Wimbledon is a signal.

BRYANT: But also, I think the thing to remember here, Scott, more than anything else, is that this is an amazing dynasty that you're watching with the Williams sisters. They are also later this afternoon, going for a doubles championship as well. I think you're looking at probably the most accomplished, most successful siblings in American sports. It is remarkable what these two women have done.

SIMON: On the men's side tomorrow, Roger Federer, who practically owns a condo at Centre Court in Wimbledon...

(LAUGHTER)

SIMON: ...is going to be in eighth Wimbledon final. Andy Murray is going to be the first British gentleman to play for the title since Fred Perry defeated Gottfried von Cramm in 1936, and I sure wish we had more athletes with names like that these days. Is there a home-court advantage in tennis?

BRYANT: Yeah, it's huge. It's huge. Even for Roger Federer, even against Roger Federer, who was beloved pretty much everywhere he goes, this place has gone crazy for Andy Murray. He's got history on his back and he's trying to get rid of it. You've got an unbelievable groundswell of support here for him to win his first major. Great Britain hasn't had a champion here since 1936. They haven't had anyone play for the championship here since 1938, with Bunny Austin. As you know, Scott, Bunny Austin was the man who introduced shorts to the game.

And so, with all of this, Andy Murray has gotten an amazing amount of pressure against the 16-time grand slam champion, but I think he can win this match. I think he can win and I think it's going to be a terrific match tomorrow.

SIMON: Boy, I want to ask you about the NBA before we close out the week because, of course, there've been just a dizzying array of free agent moves over the past week...

(LAUGHTER)

SIMON: ...while you've been enjoying yourself at Centre Court there, Howard. So...

BRYANT: There's point guard galore. Everyone's changing teams.

SIMON: Well, I mean, for example, Ray Allen will be going from the Celtics to the Miami Heat. Now, this, this just seems unfair.

BRYANT: It seems unfair, except for a couple things. One, we all know that the NBA is - it's a multi-billion dollar business. And Ray Allen, he doesn't really play that well. And I think that the Miami Heat know that they need another player, and this is what free agency is all about, because one of the reasons why people love the game, and then this is also one of the reasons why people don't feel so close to it, is because every winter or every summer, you've got a revolving door of players, and it doesn't seem like loyalty mean a whole lot. However, money talks, and $8.9 million is going to make Ray Allen go play in South Beach.

SIMON: And what about Steve Nash going to the L.A. Lakers, 'cause this to me...

BRYANT: Nash going to the Lakers. And I respect that, actually. Steve Nash and his wife divorced, and Steve Nash wants to be next to his kids. And if he was going to go to the East Coast to go play for the Knicks, I like what he said: I would rather see my kids three or four times a month than three or four times a year. That's completely 100 percent worth it to me.

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: And how are you going to argue with that logic?

SIMON: Is it enough to put the Lakers back in the game?

BRYANT: Well, the Lakers are always in the conversation. One, because they've got the second-best player in the game in Kobe Bryant. And they're also the Lakers. They can always attract players. Were they a point guard away from winning the championship? I don't think that they were. But now that they have Steve Nash, you've got two Hall of Famers on that team, absolutely. They're going to contend, they're back in business, like they always are.

SIMON: Howard Bryant of ESPN and ESPN.com, the magazine also. Thanks for being with us from Centre Court, Wimbledon, Howard.

BRYANT: My pleasure, Scott Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.