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 the Manic Monday epic between Dinara Safina and Amelie Mauresmo, the first to make use of the newly-built Centre Court roof.
For more classic moments, check out our other Wimbledon Flashbacks:
1999: Qualifier Dokic dispatches top seed Hingis in first-round stunner
1999: Stevenson topples Raymond in all-American 1999 thriller
2003: Navratilova shows her class at 46 to win title 20 alongside Paes
2005: Venus, Davenport contest classic clash in enthralling 2005 final
2012: Immaculate Shvedova unlocks historic Golden Set
2017: Returning Rybarikova stuns Pliskova in 2017 Cinderella run
2019: From qualifying to Centre Court, Gauff's star rises at SW19
THE MOMENT: For the first fortnight in decades, the Brits prayed for rain. Inclement weather long interrupted action on SW19's famed Centre Court, that is, until, the longed-for roof was completed in time for the 2009 Championships. The likes of Stefanie Graf and Kim Clijsters were unofficially the first to play under the roof for a mixed doubles exhibition alongside Andre Agassi and Tim Henman - the preparation famously inspired Clijsters to make her comeback later that summer - but the latest Grand Slam innovation went unused through a dry first week.
All of that changed on an especially memorable Manic Monday, one that saw then-World No.1 Dinara Safina take on 2006 champion Amelie Mauresmo. Safina came to Wimbledon looking to shake off the bitter disappointment faced at the French Open, where she fell in the final for a second straight year despite an inspired clay court swing. Playing on her least successful surface, she managed through three straight-set affairs - though each included a 7-5 set. Safina dismissed future semifinalist Kirsten Flipkens to ease into the second week, where Mauresmo was waiting.
The former World No.1 was in search of a breakthrough after following up her stellar 2006 season - where she at last hoisted major trophies in Melbourne and Wimbledon - with a tumble out of the Top 10. Despite an encouraging run to the Mutua Madrid Open semifinals, the Frenchwoman hadn't been past the fourth round at a major tournament in nearly three years, making an ostensibly struggling Safina appeared to be the perfect opponent.
Mauresmo made the most of the opportunity early on, seizing the initiative to take the opening set before Safina, no stranger to three-set tussles, began to impose her thudding ground game and move within two games of leveling.
It was then that the skies open and the pair were forced off the court, but unlike past years, it took less than an hour for resumption as the roof made its first official close. Re-emerging for the major's first-ever indoor grass court clash, Safina closed out the second set but found herself on the back foot early in the decider. Mauresmo broke first and was within five points of victory when the Russian pulled off an audacious escape, reeling off the final three games as her shots broke through the din of the indoor arena.
"I have been missing these kind of matches, you know, for while," Safina said after the 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory. "She really pushed me to play my best tennis. I won the match playing my best, not winning the match by fighting, you know, or outrunning somebody. I played my best to win this match so I'm really happy."
Even in defeat, a clear-eyed Mauresmo managed to break down how the conditions differed under the roof.
"I was trying to do that from the first moment, trying to see what was different. The ball was flying a little bit more, and when the ball is in the air it is bright. It's a feel, a little bit of feel.
"It's definitely a plus. We have not seen bad days in this tournament, and there have been a number of editions of Wimbledon where we have really needed it."
Emboldened by success against a grass court expert, Safina continued battling once into her first Wimbledon quarterfinal. She rallied from another set down to defeat a young Sabine Lisicki in just her second Championships appearance. Her luck ran out in the semifinals, as two-time defending champion Venus Williams held court in imperious fashion, dropping just one game against the 22-year-old Russian.
THE MEANING: For both Mauresmo and Safina, it would ultimately prove their final appearance at Wimbledon. The former played her final match at the US Open, bowing out to Aleksandra Wozniak and announcing her departure from tennis at the end of the season.
Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2015, the Frenchwoman came to Newport the following summer to receive the honor, and has since turned her attention to coaching, working with Marion Bartoli through her 2013 Wimbledon win, Andy Murray, and Lucas Pouille. Back in 2009, Murray followed Mauresmo and Safina onto Centre Court to play the first match from start to finish under the roof.
That Safina wouldn't play Wimbledon again came as a bigger surprise. That summer, she picked up what would prove to be a career-ending back injury, one that ended her season with a withdrawal from the WTA Finals in Doha and force her into a limited schedule for the following 18 months. The Russian made her retirement official in 2014, and has similar coaching aspirations.
"Sometimes I think about being in one place and having a group of players I could work with," she mused while working in Tournament Relations at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy. "I would like to make a player, not exactly from scratch. I would prefer to have someone around 15 or 16. At that age, they’re starting to mature and about to turn pro. For me, I might either make a small group and work with them or I might have someone on tour, which would mean traveling full time."