With its storied history and romantic obsession with tradition, Wimbledon holds a special place in the hearts and minds of tennis players. It's the Slam you win if you want to be a sporting legend, a national icon, a conversation-starter.
Marketa Vondrousova has never wanted to be any of those things. Who else would casually rock up to her Wimbledon Champion photo call in high-waisted denim, sneakers and a hot pink button-up shirt?
So it should surprise no one that Vondrousova never dreamed of winning Wimbledon. Or perhaps, she did in the most traditional sense. The idea was simply not based on reality.
"I think for me, it was the most impossible one because I grew up on clay," Vondrousova told WTA Insider after beating Ons Jabeur in the Wimbledon final. "I'm playing good on hard courts.
"But the grass was very strange for me and a very tough surface to play on. I played semis in juniors, but that was it. I played a couple of matches here in previous years, and that was it. When we came here, I thought,' OK, I'm going to try to win a couple of matches and just try.'
"I mean, this is amazing."
Amazing is selling it short. Before this year, Vondrousova had played Wimbledon four times and won a combined total of one match. She was considered a clay-court stalwart, as evidenced by her first major run to a final at 2019 Roland Garros. She's also a menace on hard courts. Two years ago, she came within a set of winning Olympic Gold in Tokyo.
But something clicked for her at SW19. She mowed through five seeded players to win the title, the first to do that at Wimbledon since her compatriot Petra Kvitova more than a decade ago. After playing a nervous final at Roland Garros four years ago, she was steely and unshakable against Jabeur, winning in straight sets. When all was said and done, she had a good time. And that was the goal from the start.
Vondrousova spoke to WTA Insider to break down her surprising run to the Wimbledon title.
WTA Insider: When did grass-court tennis start to click for you?
Vondrousova: So we practiced on a grass court near Prague but it's very different. It's not the same, but I feel like for the movement it really helped.
Then in Berlin, I played a couple of good matches, and I was like, 'OK, it's not going to be so bad maybe.'
Here, when I saw the draw, it's not easy. Kudermetova and Vekic, were playing amazing on grass, they were amazing players. So I was like, 'OK, just give it a shot, you know?'
WTA Insider: What were the key adjustments you made on grass this year?
Vondrousova: You have to just be OK with the serve. It's very important. It's a very mental game and you have to hold. Then the return, it's not so easy.
I feel like the most important thing was my movement because I move very good on clay and I can slide on the hard courts, but I felt like on grass I'm so slow. I don't know, it just changed so much in this tournament. So I felt like I can just put the ball back one more time in.
WTA Insider: What does winning a Grand Slam title change for you?
Vondrousova: I feel like if you have the Grand Slam, nobody can take it from you. You are a bit calmer that you have it. But I feel like everybody wants more.
I'm going to be the target now. I'm going to be Top 10, so I feel like everybody's going to watch you. I think the girls want to beat you, so it's having a target on your back. But I think that's a good thing to have.
WTA Insider: You talked a lot with Karolina Muchova throughout her run at Roland Garros. Did that help you at all?
Vondrousova: We spoke before Roland Garros and she said 'Clay, it's going to be so bad,' like me before the grass season. It's so funny.
She made the finals and she was so close also. She did double fault on match point and I was really crying so much. It was so sad. We saw each other in Prague, we chatted a bit, and we practiced here.
WTA Insider: Did talking to her about your experiences from your first Slam final at Roland Garros help you?
Vondrousova: The first final, I was really a young girl, so it was just too much for me. I think Ash [Barty] played without nerves and she just crushed me. I didn't even enjoy the moment. Finals when I was 19? It's an amazing thing. But I was so sad.
I was crying so badly and I was thinking to myself if this happens again, then I want to enjoy the moment. Even if I had lost, I would still celebrate because it's a huge thing. I spoke to Karolina before the final, I told her just go enjoy. It's such a big thing. I felt like she did it. So it's a great thing.
WTA Insider: So what do the celebration plans look like for you?
Vondrousova: I feel like we're going to see it tonight. We have a house here, so I think we'll go there and have some beers.
WTA Insider: You got so many nice messages of congratulations and support from other players.
Vondrousova: It's so nice to see. I feel like in tennis, it's very tough to have relationships with other players. This support, it means so much, just to see that people care. So many people wished me good luck before the match.]
I know Ons is very popular, and she is a great player and such a great person. I was a bit sad when I saw her crying out there. But I feel like she has many more to come.