Feet of clay, slip on grass

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ROMY P. MARIÑAS

Their feet of clay proved to be no match o the fast, punishing grass of Wimbledon.

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Marian Cilic of Croatia and American Venus Williams would have been the bigger champions they could possibly be even if they did not win the men’s and women’s single titles in this year’s third Grand Slam tournament, or the All-England Lawn Tennis Championships, as this premier event held in southwest London is officially called.

They, however, blew it by being disappointingly ungracious in defeat in their respective finals late last week.

The big-serving Cilic lost to Switzerland’s Roger Federer, 6-3, 6-1, 6-4, and Williams bowed to the Spanish-Venezuelan Garbine Muguruza, 7-5, 6-1.

When the dust settled, the Croatian and the American spoiled it all for Roger the Great and Queen-in-Waiting Muguruza by making silly excuses.

Cilic, with whom this corner had encountered but only almost in Manila when the International Premier Tennis League stopped in the city last year, complained of “blisters,” short of saying he was outclassed by the Swiss maestro because he was, quite impossibly, in pain (paging Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, complainers both!).

Williams, on the other hand, was bitter, even sarcastic, in defeat, saying Muguruza played “better” than her, sweeping under the Wimbledon grass the glaring fact that she was bageled in the second set.

No wonder, Cilic remains a one-Slam wonder (he was US Open champion in 2014), perhaps because he gets himself stressed out by what was instead of what could have been in his career that seems to be nearing its end.

Williams was gunning for her 6th Wimbledon title and she could have been celebrated more by her possibly millions of fans if she accepted defeat like a lady that she has been perceived to be.

Where magnanimity in victory is concerned, the Croatian and the American apparently have not been looking around much for role models.

For Cilic, among others, there’s two-time Grand Slam winner Marat Safin, a tall (6’4”) Russian and also a big server like the Croatian.

For Williams, there’s another Russian, Elena Dementieva, arguably one of the most popular players on the WTA Tour who retired from the game a few years ago.

Dementieva, unfortunately, did not win any Grand Slam title but had hoisted major trophies in her heyday.

She also was one of the few players who was able to match the slugger Serena Williams shot by shot and winning some, losing some.

Serena is Venus sister.

Incidentally, this corner failed to interview Cilic when he came to town because this eager-beaver PR assistant who seemed to think that she was the long-lost mother of the Croatian stopped me and, boy, she was huge!

I do not regret not having talked with Cilic.

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