Wimbledon 2019: Belinda Bencic - the matured prodigy
It's the story that tennis has written so often: early successes, over-expectations, the struggle to come back. It is also the story of Belinda Bencic, who is now at the age of 22 at Wimbledon among the favorites for the title. The Swiss grew up with a father, whose focus was early on the success of the daughter. Already as a child she trained with Melanie Molitor, the mother of Martina Hingis. At the age of 16 she became junior winner in Wimbledon - that was 2013.
Two years later, in August 2015, Bencic won in Toronto, beating four top ten players within a week. Including Serena Williams, who had won the first three Grand Slam tournaments of the year at this time, but had to bow to a Bencic this summer evening, the 18 years not only as the future, but even as the presence of tennis looked.
The heavy legacy of Hingis
"The success came a bit too fast," said Bencic the SPIEGEL. Even then their game seemed like an optical illusion. How she often played the ball in front of her body, despite the extravagant swings, the unexpected changes of tempo and creative changes of direction. There were days when Bencic seemed to have hacked the tennis, as it was the advancement of her compatriot Hingis, who had dominated the tennis in the late nineties and whose legacy Bencic should now carry on.
But because in sports success stories are rarely linear, Bencic stormed not directly to the world rankings top and won not even as a teenager a Grand Slam tournament. Instead, there were crises and injuries, the temporary separation from the coaching father, the cooperation with other coaches and the return to Papa Ivan.
Eight victories against top ten players
Unrest, a life turned upside down: What is part of the development of many young people quickly equals a perceived permanent crisis in result-oriented professional tennis. But last time, two days before the start of the tournament in Wimbledon, Bencic was tidy. She can look back on a first half of the year with a big title and eight wins against top ten players. Most recently, she defeated Wimbledon defending champion Angelique Kerber at the grass-preparation tournament in Mallorca, which she had just lost against here in London a year ago.
"I think it took such a moment that I just had to find myself a bit, also next to the court," Bencic said of the years when she was struggling more with injuries than with opponents in which she did but also could live the everyday life of a young adult. But then she noticed "that tennis is missing most of all."
"Tough lot for the others"
What has happened since then, in the past year and a half, looks like a breakthrough. Bencic has an improved serve, is again among the 15 best players in the world and is, as she says, very happy with the things on and off the pitch.
In the afternoon in Wimbledon, her first opponent is Anastassiya Pavlyuchenkova (from about 2 pm), she is number 46 in the world. Bencic is the favorite in the duel.
And she knows her strength: when she was approached for her extremely demanding draw - in her quarter of the tableau alone, there are four Grand Slam winners and world number one Ashleigh Barty - Bencic said: "I think the others also find it a tough fate for them to see me in this quarter of the draw. " Due to a lack of self-confidence, a successful Wimbledon appearance should not fail.