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 Sabine Lisicki's dominance over reigning French Open champions between 2009 and 2013, culminating in a 2013 win over Serena Williams which spurred Lisicki onto her first Grand Slam singles final.
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
2009: Safina, Mauresmo christen Centre Court roof with Manic Monday thriller
2012: Immaculate Shvedova unlocks historic Golden Set
2015: Hingis, Mirza dominate at Wimbledon in historic triumph
2017: Returning Rybarikova stuns Pliskova in 2017 Cinderella run
2019: From qualifying to Centre Court, Gauff's star rises at SW19
THE MOMENT(S): Sabine Lisicki's enthusiasm for Wimbledon has been long-standing and unwavering.
"The first time that I was here, I don't remember when it was, but when I was here I fell in love with Wimbledon," Lisicki told the press at The Championships in 2013. "It was the place I always wanted to play at, because as a little girl you never know what's going to happen. It was always a dream to play on the Centre Court and win the tournament."
With aggressive shotmaking centered around one of the fastest first serves in women's tennis history, Lisicki's game is tailor-made for grass. The German loves the surface, and particularly the grounds at SW19, where the fans returned the favor.
"It's so nice to have the support of the crowd," she stated, during her 2013 Wimbledon run. "There is no better feeling in the world to have so much support on that beautiful Centre Court here. It makes it so much more fun."
By that year, Lisicki had already created a little bit of history for herself which endeared her to the Wimbledon regulars -- and made her a perilous opponent for anyone, no matter their seeding, her ranking, or their placements in the draw.
In her three Wimbledon appearances between 2009 and 2012, Lisicki defeated the woman who won the previous month's French Open in each of those years. In 2013, she would do it for a fourth time in her last four showings -- and that time, she took that upset and ran with it to her best-ever performance at a major event.
Lisicki's initial breakthrough at the elite level came alongside the first of those wins in 2009. After surviving a close call against Anna Chakvetadze in the opening round, Lisicki lined up against another Russian in the third round -- No.5 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, who had won at Roland Garros weeks before. Lisicki, though, had no issues claiming the upset of the French Open champion, 6-2, 7-5.
Another Top 10 win followed in her next match, over No.9 seed Caroline Wozniacki in the round of 16, and Lisicki was into her first-ever Grand Slam quarterfinal. Despite a subsequent loss to the recent French Open runner-up, No.1 seed Dinara Safina, Lisicki had already proven that she was a dangerous opponent for anyone on the lawns of SW19.
However, her rapid rise was stunted by an ankle injury, which kept her off the court for most of the 2010 season. Lisicki was unable to participate in that year's Wimbledon and attempt to defend her large haul of ranking points. By March of 2011, she had fallen outside of the Top 200 of the WTA singles rankings.
Once grass season returned, though, Lisicki was back in fine form. After winning the singles title in Birmingham, Lisicki came into 2011 Wimbledon as a wildcard recipient. That proved to be a well-measured decision by the All England Club, as the German repeated her magic once again, knocking out reigning French Open champion and No.3 seed Li Na in the second round, 3-6, 6-4, 8-6.
From there, Lisicki rolled into the 2011 Wimbledon quarterfinals with ease, matching her 2009 result. This time around, she went one further, earning another Top 10 upset over No.9 seed Marion Bartoli to advance to her first-ever Grand Slam semifinal.
Though she fell in the semifinals to Maria Sharapova, Lisicki had once again shown off her Wimbledon prowess, becoming just the second wildcard to reach the women's singles semifinals at Wimbledon -- a tremendous comeback from an incredibly difficult injury break.
"I can still remember when the doctor told me that I have to be on crutches the next six weeks," Lisicki reflected in 2013. "I was like, 'Okay, when can I get back?' That was my first question."
"That period made me such a much stronger person and player," Lisicki continued. "I know anything is possible after learning how to walk again. Coming back to play semis after dropping to 220 in the rankings, anything's possible."
By 2012, everyone saw Lisicki coming when Wimbledon rolled around. But even without the element of surprise, it was no matter -- the super server kept up her momentum at the major event. That year, Lisicki faced reigning French Open champion and top seed Sharapova in the round of 16, and she avenged her 2011 loss to the Russian with a compact 6-4, 6-3 upset.
At that point, Lisicki already knew what she had been accomplishing over the seasons. "I've beaten the French Open champion three times here," said Lisicki, during her post-match press conference after beating Sharapova. "In '09 I beat Kuznetsova, last year Li Na, and this year Maria. I guess they shouldn't be in my part of the draw!"
So, coming into the 2013 Championships, Lisicki had a streak to uphold. But would the draw cooperate? Moreover, would this time be one bridge too far for the German?
Magically, the draw did work out: for the second year in a row, Lisicki got her chance against the Paris victor and top seed in the round of 16. But the task ahead of her this year was particularly daunting: she would face World No.1 Serena Williams, who had at long last captured a second French Open title, 11 years after her first, and was on a tremendous 34-match winning streak.
Lisicki, though, started off their clash strongly, breaking Williams twice in the opening frame to build a 6-2 lead. However, the American superstar turned the tables to dominate in the second set, at one point clinching 14 points in a row. Williams was charged with zero unforced errors in that set as she romped to 6-1, leveling the match at one set apiece.
At the beginning of the decider, Williams continued her run, winning a ninth game in a row to take a commanding 3-0 lead. Lisicki, though, was undaunted, and claimed two breaks back as she reached parity at 4-4. In that game, the German watched as Williams fired an error long on break point, giving Lisicki five out of the last six games and a chance to serve for the match.
At 5-4, Lisicki let one match point slip away and gave Williams a chance to break back after a double fault. But the power game of Lisicki moved her back into pole position, and the German eventually converted her second match point with a forehand winner, exulting after a 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 triumph.
For the fourth time in her last four appearances at Wimbledon, Lisicki had both knocked out the reigning French Open champion and reached the quarterfinals or better, as she continued to build a legacy of excellence in London.
"I went out on the court to win the match," Lisicki told the press, after upsetting Williams. "That's my goal. That's every time I go out on the court.
"You know, [it] gave me a little more energy knowing that she won the French Open and I beat the French Open champion three times in a row in my last three appearances, so...good omen."
THE MEANING: It was the last of these four upsets which propelled Lisicki to a milestone moment in her career. After her defeat of Williams, Lisicki beat Kaia Kanepi in the quarterfinals, to reach the second major semifinal of her career at 2013 Wimbledon.
The German then outlasted 2012 Wimbledon finalist Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-4, 2-6, 9-7, to advance to her maiden Grand Slam final. Lisicki, who came back from 0-3 down in the third set, as she had also done against Williams, became the first German woman to reach a Grand Slam final since Stefanie Graf won the 1999 French Open.
"[Graf] wished me luck before the match," Lisicki told the press, following her semifinal victory. "She told me to go for it, and I'm just so happy. I was just fighting for every single point out there. Fought my heart out there."
On Championship Saturday, Lisicki fell in straight sets at the last hurdle, as 2007 Wimbledon finalist Bartoli avenged her 2011 loss to the German to win her first Grand Slam title.
"We're good friends," Lisicki said of Bartoli, after the 2013 final. "She deserves it. She's been on tour for so long. I'm happy for her. I'm disappointed, but I'm happy for her, as well."
"It's still been a great tournament," Lisicki stated. "It's been an amazing two weeks. I've played my best tennis here. I had to take out the champion and runner‑up from last year, so I think that's pretty big. This will help me to continue to play well and to get better. This tournament definitely made me a better player."
Despite the loss, Lisicki can look back on her 2013 run with pride, as she once again played the role of world-beater. All told, Lisicki collected seven Top 10 wins at Wimbledon between 2009 and 2013, including the four wins over reigning French Open champions during that stretch of time. Overall, she compiled an outstanding 19-4 win-loss record at the event during those years.