© Ella Ling

Wimbledon - ball kid

Wimbledon: The return of Mirjana Lucic


Thought for the day – Mirjana Lucic.

Amid all the hullabaloo surrounding Lukas Rosol, his win, the spitting, the gamesmanship, and his revealing quotes, one story that got slightly lost in the midst was the tale of Mirjana Lucic, the former teen prodigy, who upset Marion Bartoli to reach the third round for the first time in 13 long years. The 30-year-old Croatian most famously reached the semi-finals here in 1999 when she was the world No.134, beating Monica Seles and Nathalie Tauziat, before eventually coming up short against Steffi Graf.

Her win over Bartoli at Wimbledon was her first over a top-10 player since that 1999 fortnight, her playing career plunged into tennis wilderness as she fled an abusive father and was swallowed up by personal and financial turmoil. But she returned to the game in 2008, determined to prove that the promise she had shown as a teen prodigy had not been lost along the way. Grinding it out on the ITF tour, her patience was rewarded with a title in 2010, and making it through qualifying here last year. This year, coming through qualifying again, she’s gone several better, the upset of Bartoli a seminal moment for a player once described by Graf as better than the German was at the age of 15.

“It took me a couple of years back on tour after not playing for a long time to kind of get adjusted…it takes a couple of matches, winning a couple of tough matches and being a little more consistent,”Lucic observed. “I feel like I’m able to do that now. So I’m hoping I’m going to keep improving. I always knew I had the game and the talent and the heart and the will. So it was just a matter of getting those opportunities, and now that I have them, I’m really excited.”