How unlikely was Marketa Vondrousova to play in Saturday’s Wimbledon Championships? Well, her husband stayed home to tend the cat instead of flying in for the semifinals, and her coach happily agreed to get a tattoo if Vondrousova somehow won the title.
Now both men begin to sweat. Vondrousova’s husband has to pack something.
“[He] coming tomorrow with my sister,” Vondrousova said. “We texted the cat sitter to come to our home.”
They are not the only ones surprised by Vondrousova’s run.
Even she didn’t see it coming. Vondrousova used the word “crazy” five times to describe her performance Thursday during her press conference. The 24-year-old former junior No. 1 has always struggled to implement her style of play on grass, but everything has clicked for her this year.
On Saturday, Vondrousova meets Ons Jabeur in the Wimbledon final. The winner becomes the newest Grand Slam champion for the first time.
Here are five things to know about the world No.42:
Wimbledon: Scorer | Draw | Playing order
She has made history at Wimbledon
After defeating Elina Svitolina on Thursday, Vondrousova became the first unseeded Wimbledon finalist in the Open Era.
Vondrousova stops Svitolina at Wimbledon to reach second Grand Slam final
At No. 42, Vondrousova is the second-lowest ranked player to reach the Wimbledon final since the WTA rankings were introduced — only Serena Williams in 2018 was ranked lower (No. 181).
Despite having a losing record at Wimbledon before this year, Vondrousova has been an absolute lawnmower at the All England Club. She beat four seeds in a row just to reach the semifinals. Beats No.12 Veronica Kudermetova, No.21 Donna Vekic, No.32 Marie Bouzkova and No.4 Jessica Pegula.
“When I saw the draw, it was not easy. I thought: “Let’s try. I beat Kudermetova, Vekic.” They’re great on grass. I thought, “OK, maybe I’ll get better and I can do something here.”
“For me, it’s really crazy that this is happening. But I think anything can happen in tennis.”
This time last year she was in London as a tourist
If you’re looking for Vondrousova’s 2022 Wimbledon results, you won’t find one. This time last year she was still in a cast after undergoing surgery on her left wrist. But she came to London anyway to support her best friend, Swedish player Miriam Bjorkland, who was playing in the qualifiers for the first time.
“With my sister we went to see her in Roehampton, then we stayed for a week just to see London and stuff like that,” Vondrousova said. “I had a cast. It was after the surgery. Yeah, I didn’t play for almost six months, so it was very hard.”
Healthy and happy, Vondrousova looks dangerous again
Injuries have been the story of the Czech’s career. A former junior No. 1, Vondrousova won her first and only title on the Hologic WTA Tour as a 17-year-old in 2017. That win came on the indoor hard courts of Biel, Switzerland, beating Anett Kontaveit.
Vondrousova has posted big results since, most notably her runner-up finish at the 2019 French Open and Olympic silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics, but consistency has eluded her due to injuries.
She was sidelined for six months three times because of her left arm. Most recently, a left wrist injury kept her out of competition after Stuttgart last year. Her first event after that came at the beginning of this year, in Adelaide. She was ranked No. 92.
She still has a losing record on grass
Vondrousova’s run at Wimbledon hasn’t come completely out of nowhere. She has been slowly building and posting increasingly solid results as the year has progressed. Even before this tournament, she achieved three Top 10 wins this season. She has reached the Round of 16 at three of the five WTA 1000s this year, including back-to-backs at Indian Wells and Miami.
That said, grass has never been Vondrousova’s surface. Despite possessing a game full of variety, touch and feel, she had a sub-.500 record on grass before this year. Even with her six wins, she still enters the final with a losing record on grass of 10-11.
But two weeks before the tournament, Vondrousova quietly broke new ground on grass. She made her first quarter-final on the surface in Berlin, beating a Top 10 player along the way. But even Vondrousova is shocked by her Wimbledon fortnight.
“I mean, here on the grass it was almost impossible [to believe I could make the final] because I didn’t play many matches on grass before,” she said. “My best [result] was the second round.
“For me, when it was clay or hard, maybe I’d say yes, maybe it’s possible. But grass was impossible for me. It’s even crazier that this is happening.”
She comes from a strong tradition of Czech excellence
Another Slam, another Czech in the final. Just over a month after Karolina Muchova’s effort to make her first major final at Roland Garros, Vondrousova continues where Muchova left off.
Vondrousova is the fourth Czech woman to reach the Wimbledon final and third in the past 10 years, joining two-time champion Petra Kvitova and former No. 1 Karolina Pliskova.
“I spoke to Barbora Krejcikova before [semifinal]” said Vondrousova. “She is here. I also texted Karolina Muchova. We are from the same club. I feel like we just support each other.
“I also spoke to Karolina when she played Paris. I cried so much after the final when she lost. It was really sad.”
A win on Saturday and Vondrousova would become the first player to beat five seeds to win a major title since Barbora Krejcikova at Roland Garros in 2021 and the first at SW19 since Petra Kvitova won her first Wimbledon title in 2011.
“In Czech, we have so many great players,” Vondrousova said. “We also support each other. It’s very nice to see.”
She is undefeated against Ons Jabeur this season
Vondrousova will face Jabeur for the third time this season, this time with a Grand Slam title at stake. Vondrousova is 2-0 against Jabeur this year. She beat Jabeur at the Australian Open and Indian Wells. Overall, their head-to-head record is locked at 3-3.
“I feel like we’re the same in some things,” Vondrousova said. “We play drop shots. We play slice. We were also supposed to play in the Eastbourne first round, but I pulled out.
“She played the final here last year. She also played the US Open final. She’s used to playing the final in a Grand Slam. It’s a final, so it’s going to be a tough match no matter who’s there.”