Tennis Prose




Jul/21

6

Remembering Alexandra Stevenson’s Magical Wimbledon Run

In 1999 at Wimbledon, Alexandra Stevenson accomplished one of the most memorable runs in Grand Slam history. Just 18 and two weeks out of high school, the Californian entered Wimbledon qualies as the no. 1 seed.

Stevenson defeated Sandra Cacic 63 75 in her first professional grass court match (she played the junior even in 1998). Then she beat Annabel Ellwood 63 64 and Haruka Inoue 61 64 to qualify for the Wimbledon main draw.

In the first round Stevenson met American veteran Amy Frazier and escaped with a 61 36 63 win.

In round two would be a clash against Belarus’s Olga Barabanschikova. Again Stevenson won a three setter 62 67 63.

11th seed Julie Halard- Decugis would be next in the third round and Stevenson dominated the French veteran 63 63.

Round of 16: Stevenson met American veteran Lisa Raymond, who was fresh off beating former Wimbledon champion Conchita Martinez and two-time finalist Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. Raymond was a dangerous force on grass with her slice backhand and net attacking style. Raymond had reached Wimbledon semis the year before in 1998. Again, Stevenson’s mighty serve and forehand would overpower Raymond in a thriller 26 76 (8-6) 6-1. Stevenson saved a match point in the second set.

In the quarterfinals another teen phenom awaited Stevenson – the Yugoslavian Jelena Dokic who had stunned the 1997 Wimbledon champ Martina Hingis in he first round. Dokic crushed Hingis 62 60 and Mary Pierce, the 9 seed in the round of 16, 64 63.

Stevenson managed to defeat Dokic 63 16 63 to set up an All-American semifinal showdown with Lindsay Davenport, the three seed. Davenport performed a near perfect match, dismissing Stevenson 61 61. Davenport would beat Steffi Graf in the final 64 75. For the 23 year old Davenport it was would be her second Grand Slam singles title – her first came at US Open in 1998. Davenport would win one more Grand Slam in singles in 2000 in Australia.

Stevensonmania and her 120 mile an hour serve attracted Nike co-founder and chairman Phil Knight to London, where he personally signed Stevenson to a three-year contract.

Stevenson reached her career high singles ranking in 2002 at no. 18 in the world. But her tennis career never reached the heights of the summer of 1999 – she never won a WTA singles title and she would lift just one champion trophy in doubles (with Serena Williams 2002 in Leipzig, Germany). After the semi run at Wimbledon her best effort at a major would be to the second round, which she did four times. Her final Grand Slam main draw appearance was at US Open in 2004.

Stevenson suffered a major shoulder problem in 2003 and could never regain the form she showed in 1999, though she would continue to compete professionally until late 2018. Stevenson’s final pro tournament was a $60,000 ITF in Toronto, a first round 67 46 loss to Nadia Gilchrist.

Today Stevenson is 40 and works as an ESPN tennis analyst during Wimbledon and US Open.

Along with her historic Wimbledon semifinal run, Stevenson also holds another unique distinction: Stevenson graduated from the University of Colorado┬áin December 2007, with a Bachelor of Liberal Arts, Sociology degree. She graduated on the Dean’s List and is the only final-eight member to have graduated from college while playing professional tennis.

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1 comment

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 6, 2021 at 12:34 pm

    Stevenson’s 1999 SF run was matched by fellow teen Mirjana Lucic who made semis in the bottom half, she lost to Graf 76 46 36.

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