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Best Wimbledon quotes: “I've had a big X on my back since '99"


World No.1s Novak Djokovic and Ash Barty, Wimbledon legends Roger Federer and Serena Williams and two-time champions Andy Murray and Petra Kvitova were among the stars of the sport to chat to the media ahead of the 2021 Championships.

Here are the highlights from what they discussed over the weekend.

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Djokovic arrives at the All England Club looking to win his third straight major tournament, and 20th overall, while aiming to keep alive his bid for the calendar-year Golden Grand Slam.

“The level of confidence is pretty high. Obviously winning the two majors this year, playing very well in Roland Garros. That tournament took a lot out of me I think mentally and physically and emotionally. It also granted me with an incredible amount of positive energy and confidence that created a wave that I'm trying to ride. I love being here. It's the dream tournament. Has always been a dream tournament for me when I was a seven-year-old dreaming to win the Wimbledon. It always gives me goose bumps walking onto these courts and inspires me to play my best."

Another player who loves the tournament is 2013 and 2016 winner Murray, who after a multitude of setbacks is playing at Wimbledon for the first time in four years. 

“I've had lots of issues in the last few years, lots of injury problems, (so I wonder) how hard should I push on the couple of days and the build-up to the match at Queen's, how much should I practise and prepare. If I get hurt this week and then I have to miss Wimbledon, I'm desperate to play here. That's the thing I found hardest in terms from a mentality perspective. When I get on the court and play, I think it will be pretty different. I'll just go out there and I'll compete for every point. If my body hurts afterwards, fine. It's more the build-up that's the hard part, knowing how much to push, having the mentality to really go for it in training.”

Federer, who trained with Murray a few days ago at the All England Club, is also coming into the tournament with a limited build-up following physical issues.

“I think I got to take the positives out of these last few weeks that I'm actually here at Wimbledon right now and I have a chance. I know if I get rolling, I get into the second week, which is the goal here right now, that I get stronger and stronger as every match goes by, I believe it's very much possible. I come here feeling mentally strong rather with the last set I played in Halle, which was clearly not the standard I like.”

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Roger Federer Wimbledon pre-tournament press conference
Roger Federer: "I know if I get rolling, I get into the second week, which is the goal here right now, that I get stronger and stronger as every match goes by." (Getty Images)

Federer’s fellow 39-year-old Williams is chasing a record-equalling 24th major singles title, and although top-three stars Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep are absent, she is still wary of an ever-strengthening women's field.

“I think that the women's draw is so deep, regardless to who you play. You really have to show up now. There's no longer matches that are going to be a sure walk-through. You just have to really have your head in, have your game on. I've had a big X on my back since '99, since I won the US Open. When players play me that hard every single tournament, every single match, every single Grand Slam, it just doesn't matter where, you just get better. It's been difficult mentally when someone might beat you and they lose directly in the next round almost every time. At the end of the day that's why I'm Serena.”

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One young player who would no doubt love a shot at facing Serena is Iga Swiatek, but it's unclear if that will happen at Wimbledon given her limited experience on grass.

“I just try to learn as much as possible. I'm just aware that I haven't been practising on grass for a long time because I played finals of doubles on Roland Garros. You just need experience on grass basically. Actually it's kind of nice because I can play without any expectations. After all that fuss that was around during clay season, during Roland Garros, as I was playing as the defending champion, it's just easier actually. I'm enjoying it.”

In a similar position to Swiatek is Barbora Krejcikova, who was a huge focal point of the clay-court season as the eventual Roland Garros champion, and is another with limited experience on this surface.

“About this tournament and playing for the first time, not really having experience, switching fast from clay to grass, all of this is new, all of this is different. Play on clay, I grew up on clay, so I like to play on clay. I didn't really have that many matches playing on grass. I've never played here the main draw. Everything is new. But I just try to have fun. I just try to enjoy it. I just try to, as I said, improve. I just feel that so far I really don't know what to do on grass yet. I just feel that I don't really know how to use my shot. I still have some time to find out.”

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Daniil Medvedev might also be inexperienced on grass, but last week’s Mallorca champion is loving it.

“I like to feel being on grass. You can lay down, you can jump for the ball, you can sit on the grass. You don't need to sit on the chair. It's actually relaxing to be on the grass, especially when it's good weather, the sun is shining. Of course, it suits my game very well … for my strokes, for my serve, even for my return, the grass suits me very well. What is not easy with the grass is you have to adapt a lot to it. That's what I managed to do. Hopefully that's what can help me."

Petra Kvitova, Andy Murray and Daniil Medvedev speak to the press ahead of Wimbledon.
(L-R) Petra Kvitova, Andy Murray and Daniil Medvedev spoke to the press ahead of the 2021 Wimbledon championships. (Getty Images)

Barty also loves the lawns and will open the Centre Court schedule on Tuesday in defending champion Halep’s absence, thankfully healthier after her injury withdrawal from Roland Garros.

“Straight after Paris, obviously there was some time where we needed to digest what was going on. We needed to get a full diagnosis. We were able to do that, which is a really crucial part of my rehab. Now I feel like I'm fit, I'm ready to play I'm excited to play. To have an opportunity to again play main draw here at Wimbledon is certainly something that excited me and really drove me to do everything as best as I possibly could with my team to make sure we're fit and we're here playing.”

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Kvitova, also rebuilding after an injury sustained in Paris, was asked about drawing Sloane Stephens in what is the pick of the first-round matches at Wimbledon.

“Actually no reaction. I think I was so exhausted after my two matches on Friday (in Bad Homburg), when I founded out after my press conference after the matches, I was like, okay, it's not easy, but that's how it is.”

Speaking of first-round matches, Stefanos Tsitsipas has come a long way since losing his at Wimbledon in 2019.

"I was disappointed. I was also miserable that time of the year. Didn't feel really well. I wasn't really enjoying what I was doing out there. It took me a while to kind of readjust and understand what's the reason I'm out on the court, what's the reason I'm out there playing the sport that I love, playing the sport that I have dedicated most of my life to. I can tell you that right now I'm feeling happy every single day. I'm grateful that I'm able to do what I love, that I'm able to be with people that I most certainly want them to be there. It's been a beautiful journey."