July 30, 2021

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Wimbledon ’19 Flashback – The Eve of the Big Dance

2019

Remember 2019? That's when tennis players were all on top of each other. A lot has changed.

Wimbledon begins on Monday.

Can you believe it’s been almost exactly two years since the grass at the hallowed All-England Club was trod upon by the professional players?

So much is the same.

But so much has changed, irrevocably.

When Paul McNamee Tweeted this photo of a sparse and quiet Aorangi, on the eve of the championships, it reminded me of the last Wimbledon, when the Sunday before the start of play was so very different.

The first thing you notice is just the mass of humanity. The piles of players grouped together on the hour at the court changeovers.

The sheer number of relatives, friends, agents and other people who can get credentials. They hang out at the practice courts to … hang out at the practice courts.

A few moments stand out from this tour of the practice area on June 30, 2019 – the day before Day 1.

I’ll highlight some of those below. First, here’s a photo slideshow that contains many of your favorite players.

These were the last moments before the stress hit the fan two years ago.

It’s the best time. Everything is possible. And no one has lost yet.

Enjoy.

Suárez Navarro makes the second week

June 30, 2019 was more than a year before Carla Suárez Navarro received her Hodgkin’s diagnosis.

She was ranked No. 31 at the time. And she didn’t know it then, but in 2019 she would make Manic Monday for the third time in her career.

Two years later, having successfully battled the cancer, she comes to Wimbledon for the final time and gets to open Centre Court Tuesday with world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty.

Stella Stepanek a big hit

The tennis merger of Nicola Vaidisova and Radek Stepanek – Part II – produced a little beauty named Stella in early July 2018.

Stella was just about to celebrate her first birthday two years ago. Papa was at Wimbledon in a rather unlikely coaches/player marriage with Grigor Dimitrov and Andre Agassi.

Let’s say the adorable baby make quite an impression

Prez Djokovic and Vice-Prez Anderson hit the practice courts

There’s been a lot going on this week as the PTPA officially launches.

So it’s worth remembering that this is exactly two years after the big Wimbledon drama.

Just 36 hours after Jamie Murray, Robin Haase, Sergiy Stakhovsky and Dani Vallverdu resigned from the ATP Tour Player Council after a contentious, seven-hour meeting on the Friday night, then-president Novak Djokovic and vice-president Kevin Anderson were perfectly civilized as they hit the practice court together.

Just 36 hours after a contentious ATP Player Council meeting, president Djokovic and vice-president Anderson – on opposite sides of the debates – discuss on the practice court.

Many familiar 2019 faces not back in 2021

Flashback? Victoria Azarenka and Wim Fissette. No longer a thing.

Alison Van Uytvanck and Greet Minnen? Engaged.

And there are many featured in the photo gallery who are NOT at Wimbledon in 2021.

Raonic, Bernard Tomic and Tomas Berdych. Monica Puig, Ernests Gulbis, and Mischa Zverev (except as part of Team Zverev). Steve Darcis and Janko Tipsarevic.