Welcome to Wimbledon Flashbacks, where wtatennis.com will take a look back at some of the most memorable narratives from The Championships over the past 20 years. After recapping Birmingham's best battles and excellent Eastbourne encounters, our retrospective heads to the lawns of SW19. Next up is Magdalena Rybarikova's career-defining run to the semifinals in 2017.
For more classic moments, check out our other Wimbledon Flashbacks:
1999: Qualifier Dokic dispatches top seed Hingis in first-round stunner
2003: Navratilova shows her class at 46 to win title 20 alongside Paes
2019: From qualifying to Centre Court, Gauff's star rises at SW19
THE MOMENT: Long considered a natural fit for grass courts, with a willingness to impart classic strategies centered around a knifed slice backhand and a willingness to serve-and-volley, Magdalena Rybarikova's short resumé at Wimbledon proved befuddling to many of the most attentive tennis fans.
In addition to possessing a game that succeeded for others on grass, the Slovak had the pedigree to match as a junior. Seeded No.6 in the girls' singles event in 2006, Rybarikova reached the final before losing to Caroline Wozniacki in three sets.
Three years later, she announced herself on the tour by winning her first WTA singles title on the lawns of Birmingham at age 20 in 2009, beating top seed Zheng Jie in the third round, and No.4 seed Li Na in the championship.
The one gap in her achievements on grass, however, was at the All-England Club. In her first eight trips to Wimbledon as a professional, beginning with a first-round qualifying loss in 2007 after having been awarded a wildcard thanks to her junior prowess, Rybarikova went winless.
While some of that futility could've been explained due to tough draws, the rest was a series of almosts. In four of those seven years from 2008-14, she drew a player ranked ahead of her - including then-World No.5 Victoria Azarenka in 2011, and then-World No.3 and eventual finalist Agnieszka Radwanska 12 months later - with four three-set losses in all.
So ultimately, while it was not surprising that the Slovak's promise finally delivered in a Cinderella run to the semifinals in 2017, the road that she took to get there certainly was.
On her ninth visit, Rybarikova earned a first main-draw win at Wimbledon in 2015, beating World No.8 Ekaterina Makarova in the opening round en route to a third round showing which matched, at the time, her best-ever Grand Slam result - having first done so at the 2008 and 2009 US Opens.
Two years later, however, she arrived at Wimbledon having recently returned after a seven-month absence due to knee and wrist surgeries in late 2016 through early 2017, which saw her ranking dip to outside the world's Top 450. Upon her return in March, Rybarikova claimed four ITF titles, two of which came on grass at the prestigious $100,000 events in Surbiton and Ilkley, to put her ranking back at World No.87.
After a first round win over Monica Niculescu, Rybarikova advanced to face World No.3 Karolina Pliskova, who'd won Eastbourne the week prior and was tipped by many as the tournament favorite, on Centre Court.
Prior to the match, Pliskova, who was set to rise to World No.1 after the tournament, was aware of the dangers that Rybarikova posed.
“I think it's the toughest draw in the second round so far for me on the Grand Slams,” Pliskova said before the match. "For [me] being seeded, I think it's very tough, tough round.
“I know she can be really dangerous. Especially now, she was coming back from injury, she had some good wins. Definitely, she's ready to play. On grass, I think she can be dangerous with her game. She can play a lot of slices, drop shots, serving well, also good at the net."
And in the end, Rybarikova showed off the full range of her talent after trailing by a set and a break. Serving six aces, matching Pliskova's famed serve in that department, the Slovak hit 30 winners, ventured to net 35 times - winning nearly 70 percent of the points - and ultimately pulled off a 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 upset.
After her dramatic victory over Pliskova on Centre Court, Rybarikova's run continued on a comparably smaller stage: Court 18. Two days later, she followed up her monumental upset with a 6-2, 6-1 defeat of Lesia Tsurenko in the third round, and returned to that court for a 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 win on Manic Monday over Petra Martic in the round of 16.
"I had a very good grass season. I was quite confident about maybe first round, and I was not thinking more. I mean, when I saw the draw, I was thinking that I can make it and I could be in the second round, but I didn't have some pressure or something," Rybarikova said after beating Martic.
"Then when I saw the second round, I was like, 'Okay, that's going to be very difficult, because I think Karolina was the favorite to win this title here.' I know she won recently just Eastbourne.
"So I knew it's gonna be amazing, tough match. I mean, somehow I won that match. And then obviously it was more open. But I had to beat such a player like her."
In the last eight, Rybarikova returned to Centre Court and beat American No.23 seed CoCo Vandeweghe - who was a surprise quarterfinalist herself in 2015 - 6-3, 6-3, before her run was ended by eventual champion Garbiñe Muguruza in the semifinals.
THE MEANING: As the 17th consecutive women's singles Grand Slam event to feature a first-time semifinalist, Rybarikova's run also earned her the distinction of being the first Slovak woman to reach the last four at Wimbledon.
Needing a protected ranking to enter the tournament, Rybarikova left Wimbledon ranked World No.33 - just two spots off of the previous career-high she'd set in 2013.
Her resurgence did not stop there. After returning to the third round of the US Open for the first time in nearly a decade, the then-28-year-old broke into the Top 30 for the first time, and qualified for the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai thanks her stunning efforts over seven months of play.
Though she fell in the round robin stage, Rybarikova nonetheless achieved a career-best year-end ranking of World No. 20, but would soon again be adversely affected by recurring injuries after peaking at World No.17 in March of 2018, and reaching her last WTA singles final to-date in Birmingham in June of that year.
Returning to Wimbledon two years on from her career-defining run last summer, having dropped out of the Top 100 in the middle of 2019, Rybarikova scored a Top 10 victory over Aryna Sabalenka in the first round. However, she played just two more matches for the year after losing to American teenager Coco Gauff.
Having not taken the court at all in the first two months of 2020, Rybarikova announced her intentions to retire from professional tennis in early March, shortly before the tour's hiatus due to the global coronavirus pandemic, at the next Fed Cup Finals. Originally slated for April of this year, the ITF announced the event's rescheduling to 2021 last week.